The Palaces of Kyoto: Home of the Emperor

Along with the futuristic megacity of Tokyo and the foodie heaven of Osaka, no trip to Japan would be complete without visiting its cultural capital, Kyoto.

Home to the Japanese imperial court for over a thousand years, Kyoto is full of palaces, temples, shrines, and gardens; which thanks to not being targeted by Allied bombing during World War II, has been preserved in all its authenticity. This is Part 1 of our Kyoto Series: Palaces.

Kyoto Imperial Palace



* From 794 AD to 1869, Japan was ruled by its Emperor from his Imperial Palace in Kyoto.



* The Emperor of Japan is considered by the Japanese to be a literal demi-god, and he is worshipped as one! Other titles include: Japanese head of state, highest authority of the Shinto religion, and symbol of Japan.


* The Imperial House of Japan is the oldest continuing monarchial house in the world, with there being 126 monarchs since the reign of Emperor Jimmu (660 BC).


* The fact that it has not been broken for all these centuries is an astonishing feat! For reference, the current royal family of the United Kingdom, the Windsors, has only been around since 1917.


* The current Japanese Emperor is Naruhito, who ascended the throne last May 2019.


* The previous Emperor, Akihito, is still alive though. Currently referred to as Emperor Emeritus, Akihito abdicated, in favor of his son, to take better care of his health.


* Visiting the palace reminded me of one of my favorite PC games from back in the day, Shogun Total War.


* As well as the Playstation game, Tenchu, where you play a ninja who must overcome the odds using stealth.


* No way to stealthily get past this bridge, except by going under!


* After 1869, the Imperial Court relocated to Tokyo, where it still reigns to this day.


* Think of all the incredible stories of shoguns, daimyos, and samurai that must have actually gone down here back in the glory days of medieval Japan.


* No ninjas allowed!


* Looks like a level in the old NES game, Ninja Gaiden.


Nijo Castle



* Another Palace in Kyoto, is the Ninomaru located entirely within the fortification of Nijo Castle.


* Ordered built in 1679 by the head of the Tokugawa Shogunate, Nijo Castle was to be the official Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa shoguns; conveniently located a stone's throw away from the Imperial Palace.


* Somehow I'm reminded of the adage, "keep your friends close, and your enemies closer".


* Now THAT is a zen garden!


* Perfect for meditation, sword fighting, and balancing on rocks!

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