Edo castle became the Imperial palace
The samurai Ota Dokan built Edo Castle in 1457, in the area where there was nothing but forest in those days. In 1590, Tokugawa Ieyasu entered Edo and renovated Edo Castle when he was ordered to move his main castle to Edo. In 1603, when Ieyasu became shogun, Edo Castle became the headquarters of the shogunate. After the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate, Emperor Meiji transferred the imperial capital from Kyoto to Tokyo and moved the Imperial Palace to Edo Castle in 1869. The buildings of this palace were destroyed by air raids in 1945 and the present palace was completed in 1968.
Major ceremonies are conducted in the Sei-den
The present Imperial Palace buildings were erected in 1968, after the
old Meiji Palace was lost in a fire caused by air raids in the Second World War. There are seven main buildings, including the Chowa-den, where the imperial family make personal appearances on January 2 for New Year, and December 23, to mark the birthday of Emperor Akihito; the Sei-den, where major ceremonies are conducted; and the Homei-den, where official receptions are held. Their majesties the emperor and empress do not live in the palace building, but in the imperial residence in the Fukiage area of the palace grounds.
Main Entrance of the Imperial Palace (Double Bridge)
The main entrance of the palace, commonly called Niju-bashi or Double Bridge, is open to the public at New Year on January 2, and on the birthday of the emperor on December 23, as well as for official visits by special foreign guests. The entrance is near Double Bridge, a name which many mistakenly believe refers to the two nearby bridges. In fact, however, it is the name of the bridge that is closer to the palace and was formerly a two – tiered structure, the lower span having served to reinforce the whole.
Questions From Foreigners
Busy days of the emperor
Q what is the role of emperor ?
A The status of the emperor is defined in Article 1 of Japan’s Constitution as “the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people.” His role is to officiate at such state events as the appointment of the prime minister designated by the Diet. His status is similar to that of the queen of England.
Q How many people live in the vast grounds of the Imperial Palace ?
A There are only two people living there, the emperor and the empress. Many other members of the family live in a compound at the Akasaka Imperial Palace, including the crown prince and his brother Prince Akishino and their families; most of the other princely families, including the family of Prince Mikasa, the Emperor’s uncle; as well as the family of Prince Tomohito and that of the late Prince Takamado, the emperor’s cousins.
Q Has Japan ever had a female emperor ?
A There have been eight female emperors in Japan, of whom two ascended the throne on two occasions. In the past, an emperor’s wife would generally temporarily become an empress in the event that the emperor died young and his son was not of a sufficient age to assume the position of emperor. Moreover, were the emperor to have had no sons, a daughter would ascend the throne. Such has been the case on four occasions. However, at those times, the empress with the same status as that of an emperor.