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Kyoto Imperial Palace

Kyoto Imperial Palace

The Kyoto Imperial Palace (Kyoto Gosho) served as the Imperial Family's residence from 794 until 1868 when the capital moved to Tokyo.

Throughout the years, when the emperor's residential palace buildings burnt down, he would temporarily reside in mansions provided by the aristocracy. The Palace has been on its present site since 1331, after initially being a temporary residence ( the Satodairi Tsukimikado Higashinotoin-dono mansion). The current buildings date back to 1855.

None of the Palace's buildings are open to the public.

Kyoto Imperial Palace

Opening times and admission

Open from 9 am to 4 pm from Tuesday to Sunday.

Closed on Mondays (or Tuesdays instead, if a National Holiday falls on a Monday) and from the 28th of December to the 4th of January.

Entry is free.

There are free guided tours which start at 10 am and 1.30 pm. They take 1 hour and 15 min, but prior registration is required to take part.

Kyoto Imperial Palace

How to get there

The Palace is located inside the Kyoto Gyoen National Garden

  • From Kyoto Station take the Karasuma Line to Marutamachi Station (7 minutes, 4 stops, 260 yen) then walk for about minutes to reach Kyoto Gyoen's Ainomachi Entrance.

  • Another option is to take the 205 City Bus (21 minutes, 10 stops, 230 yen) and then walk for 4 minutes to reach Kyoto Gyoen's Teramachi Gomon Gate.

Address: 3 Kyotogyoen, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, 602-0881, Japan

Kyoto Imperial Palace


Kyoto Imperial Palace, Okurumayose

As you walk in through the Seishomon Gate, past the gift shop, rest area and toilets and following the marked route, the first significant structure you will see is a Carriage Porch reserved for high-ranking officials/ court nobles.


Kyoto Imperial Palace, Shin-mikurumayose

A bit further from the Okurumayose, you will see the New Carriage Porch which was built in 1915 for the enthronement of Emperor Taisho.

Gekkamon and Nikkamon Gates

Following the route, you will reach the Shinshinden with two long vermillion-coloured corridors to its left and right and one opposite. Each corridor has a gate in the middle. The Gekka-mon and Nikka-mon Gates are to the left and right of the Shinshinden, while Jomei-mon is the one facing it.

Jomeimon Gate

Kyoto Imperial Palace, Jomeimon Gate


Kyoto Imperial Palace

The Shishinden is a highly significant building used for enthronement ceremonies. To its right and left, you will see a cherry blossom tree and a mandarin orange tree (Ukon-no-tachibana and Sakon-no-sakura).


Kyoto Imperial Palace

Opposite the Jomei-mon is the Kenrei-mon which was also used during enthronement ceremonies.


Kyoto Imperial Palace

As you follow the route, after the Shinshinden, you will see Shunkoden, which was built in 1915 for the enthronement of Emperor Taisho.

Walking past the Shunkoden, there are a few other buildings used as the living quarters of the emperor or for ceremonies and imperial audiences.

Oikeniwa Pond Garden

Kyoto Imperial Palace

Opposite the building complex, there is a large pond and a beautiful strolling garden.


Kyoto Imperial Palace

Walking straight ahead, past the garden you will reach the Imperial Residential Palace. This large building has 15 rooms which are used for rituals, living quarters of the emperor and imperial audiences.

Gonaitei Garden

Kyoto Imperial Palace

Opposite the Otsunegoten you will see the Gonaitei - a beautiful garden built in 1855.

As you exit the garden, the route will take you past the Otsunegoten and the Odaidokoro-ato (the site of the kitchen buildings) and back to the Seishomon Gate, where the tour starts.

Kyoto Imperial Palace

How long does a visit to the Kyoto Imperial Palace take?

Walking at a leisurely pace you can see everything the Imperial Palace has to offer in roughly an hour but I would suggest setting aside a tiny bit longer to spend some time in the gardens (they were easily my favorite part of the palace)

Kyoto Imperial Palace

Have you ever been to the Kyoto Imperial Palace? If so, I would love to hear about your visit there, in the comments below.

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I hope life is treating you well.

Take care.

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