|Name||京都御所 / Kyoto Inperial Palace|
|Adress||Kyotogyoen3, Kamigyo-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 602-0881|
|Hours Open||Advance reservation is required|
The Kyoto Imperial Palace (京都御所 Kyoto-gosho) is the former ruling palace of the Emperor of Japan. The Emperors have resided at the Tokyo Imperial Palace since the Meiji Restoration in 1869, when the preservation of the Kyoto Imperial Palace was ordered in 1877. Today, the grounds are open to the public, and the Imperial Household Agency hosts public tours of the buildings several times a day.
The Kyoto Imperial Palace is the latest of the imperial palaces built at or near its site in the north-eastern part of the old capital of Heian-kyō after the abandonment of the larger original Heian Palace (大内裏 Dai-dairi) that was located to the west of the current palace during the Heian Period. The Palace lost much of its function at the time of the Meiji Restoration, when the capital functions were moved to Tokyo in 1869. However, the Taisho and Showa Emperors still had their enthronement ceremonies at the palace.
The palace is situated in the Kyoto-gyoen (京都御苑), a large rectangular enclosure 1,300 metres (4,300 ft) north to south and 700 metres (2,300 ft) east to west which also contains the Sento Imperial Palace gardens. The estate dates from the early Edo period when the residence of high court nobles were grouped close together with the palace and the area walled. When the capital was moved to Tokyo, the residences of the court nobles were demolished and most of Kyoto Gyoen is now a park open to the public.
The Imperial Palace has been officially located in this area since the final abandonment of the Daidairi in late 12th century. However, it was already much earlier that the de facto residence of the emperors was often not in the Inner Palace (内裏 dairi) of the original Heian period palace, but in one of the temporary residences (里内裏 sato-dairi) in this part of the city and often provided to the emperor by powerful noble families. The present palace is a direct successor—after iterations of rebuilding—to one of these sato-dairi palaces, the Tsuchimikado Dono (土御門殿 Tsuchimikado-dono) of the Fujiwara clan. The palace, like many of the oldest and most important buildings in Japan, was destroyed by fire and rebuilt many times over the course of its history. It has been destroyed and rebuilt eight times, six of them during the 250-year-long peace of the Edo period. The version currently standing was completed in 1855, with an attempt at reproducing the Heian period architecture and style of the original dairi of the Heian Palace.
The grounds include a number of buildings, along with the imperial residence, or dairi (内裏). The neighbouring building to the north is the sento (仙洞), or residence of the retired emperor, and beyond that, across Imadegawa Avenue, sits Doshisha University. The Imperial Household Agency maintains the building and the grounds and also runs public tours.