Japan 2012 - Tokyo Imperial Palace
I visited the Kyoto Imperial Palace and was really impressed with the elegance of the architecture, so I thought I shouldn't miss the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Like the Kyoto Palace, entrance is free but a reservation need to be made either online or at the Imperial Household Office. On the day, I got out at the wrong subway station and had to walk much longer then expected. To make matters worse, I went to the wrong entrance which was about 1 km from the designated entrance. By the time I got there I was already 30min late, and thought for sure I was going to miss the tour. Luckily the tour hasn't started and they let me in.
The wrong entrance.
The right entrance is down there.
Like in Kyoto, there was a video briefing in a large hall before the tour starts. There were around 50 people, about half from China. The tour started with a walk around the outer gardens. It was pleasant enough, but what we really wanted to see was the Palace. That was when we heard the bad news - we weren't going to see the Palace. The Royal Family actually lives there and it is not open to visitors. What a disappointment !
If you are rushed for time, you could probably give the Imperial Palace a miss. Visiting the Palace will take about half a day.