Monday, 9 February 2015

JVlog #6: Tokyo Imperial Palace

Good Day Everyone,

A couple of weekends back, hubby and I went into Tokyo to the Imperial Palace Gardens. The Imperial Palace is the main residence of the Emperor of Japan. It is a large park like area located near Tokyo station. The park area contains a number of buildings including the palace, a museum, administrative buildings as well as beautiful gardens, and is surrounded by moats and large stone walls. We naively thought that we might be able to get a view of the palace itself and I was hoping to get some photos of it. However, once we got there we soon realised that we weren't even going to get close to it.
Tokyo Imperial Palace
We were only able to walk around the outer gardens and look at some of the buildings on the grounds from afar. Members of the public can book to go on a guided tour of the inner gardens but that has to be booked in advance via the Imperial Agency. You have to submit an application form and apparently the wait can be several months on some occasions. Even with the guided tour you don't actually get to go inside the palace as it is closed to the public. Every New Year on January 2nd and on the Emperor's birthday, members of the public are allowed to enter the palace grounds where the Imperial Family appear on a balcony before the crowd and the Emperor gives a short speech.

I actually couldn't tell you which building is actually the Imperial Palace (i.e. where the Imperial Family resides), although I think it maybe the one in the above photo. It's not like Buckingham Palace in London where when you search for it on Google Images the same image comes up repeatedly. Searching for Tokyo Imperial Palace on Google brings up a number of different buildings, including the Nijubash Bridge below which I've read online, leads to the inner Palace Grounds.
Nijubashi Bridge
I wonder whether Tokyo Imperial Palace refers to a collection of buildings rather than a single building - who knows. Walking around the gardens, it felt as though there was an air of secrecy and mystery about the place as there were so many walls, barriers, guards and areas that you couldn't access or even peer into. There were police cars patrolling the grounds and we saw several guards cycling around the gardens that are open to the public.
Security guard cycling around the East Gardens
As we walked around the gardens, we came a cross a couple of interesting buildings. One of these was the Tokagakudo Music Hall, which is octagon shaped. The music hall was built in 1963 in commemoration of the 60th birthday of Empress Kojun. The eight outer walls of the hall are decorated with different mosaic tile designs.
Tokagakudo Music Hall

We also saw our first cherry blossoms of 2015. Whilst the cherry blossom festival doesn't officially start until the end of March, the last couple of months have been relatively mild and so some cherry blossoms have started to bloom.
With it being winter we didn't see the gardens in all their glory but I can imagine that once the flowers start to bloom in the spring, the gardens and the park area will be absolutely beautiful to walk around.
Tokyo skyline from the Imperial Palace Garden grounds
After walking around the gardens for a few hours we headed to Ebisu for some pizza. We went to a restaurant called L'Antica Pizzeria da Michele. This is the second, and only branch outside of Italy, of this particular pizza restaurant. The original Naples restaurant was propelled onto the global stage by the movie Eat, Pray, Love, starring Julia Roberts. The restaurant only serves two types of pizzas and the Naples branch has been making these for over 140 years. You can see this and more in the vlog below :o)

I hope you enjoyed this vlog and peek into our life in Japan.

Love Sheen xxx
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