Long walk. No reservation. Light drizzle. That is our visit to Kyoto Imperial Palace in a nutshell.
Formerly the residence of Japan Imperial Family before moving the capital to Tokyo in 1868, Kyoto Imperial Palace has since then been used only for ceremonial purposes and imperial enthronements. It is located in a vast Imperial Grounds called Kyoto-gyoen (京都御苑) together with the residences of other high nobility. The gravel covered grounds is said to measure 1.3 km north to south and 0.7 km east to west. That is quite a walk considering the hikes we have had the previous days in this lovely city.
Sadly, hubby and I did not research enough to know that the Palace Grounds is open to public BUT not the palace itself which can only be entered through a guided tour held by the Imperial Household Agency. Oops. No reservation, no entry.
So we decided to heed our way out of the palace grounds and it drizzled a bit. Apparently, running is not an option when it rains on a vast ground unless one is a triathlete, and certainly not with a slightly blistered feet. Luckily it stopped, providing us the chance to breathe in the aura of the palace grounds. Ah, the smell of royalty and aristocracy in the air. It also gave us the opportunity to see more of the Imperial Grounds other than the palace like the beautiful Magatamanoike pond garden at the south end of Kyoto Imperial Palace Park. The pond garden is highlighted by the Shusuitei villa or a tea ceremony room of Kujo family.
It is perhaps not my favorite day but the 300 year old tree at the Kyoto Imperial Ground which is said to be the tree where a Choshu samurai warrior died a heroic death is interesting. I wonder if this is related to the “Last Samurai” movie. Any guess?
Apply for a permit to visit Kyoto Imperial Palace days ahead at http://sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/order/index_EN.html
Check on Google Street View below for an additional information and perspective on Kyoto Imperial Palace: