By Crystal Branco If you’re looking for a glimpse into European architecture at its finest, look no further than Akasaka Palace in Moto-Akasaka, Tokyo. Built in 1909 as the Imperial Palace for the Crown Prince, this Neo-Baroque French style building […]
By Crystal Branco
If you’re looking for a glimpse into European architecture at its finest, look no further than Akasaka Palace in Moto-Akasaka, Tokyo. Built in 1909 as the Imperial Palace for the Crown Prince, this Neo-Baroque French style building and its vast grounds full of gardens is open to the public. Over the years, the use of the building has changed and it now serves as a meeting place for diplomats, guests of the State, and committee gatherings such as the G7 and APEC. This is the only western-style Guest State House in Japan.
Aside from the site having significant Japanese importance, to include multiple registered “Japanese National Treasure” spots, Akasaka Palace has been visited by many American Presidents and other delegates as part of their continued close partnership with Japan. The first American President to visit the Palace was Gerald Ford in 1974 and the most recent visit was from Donald Trump in 2019.
The Front Gate
Although you cannot enter the Palace this way, I feel this is the best visual introduction to the property itself. Not only is is beautiful, but it is reminiscent of Versailles in Paris, France. There are two guard shacks on either side to take photos in. (I personally couldn’t pass up the photo-op!) Once you’re done gawking at the gate, take a right and walk along the fence to reach the entrance.
Main Garden (Back of the Palace)
Once in, you will take a right to go to the back of the Palace where the fountain is. This fountain is European in design through and through– and besides the Japanese Umbrella Pines that surround the fountain and the Palace itself, I had a very difficult time remembering I was still in Japan and not back in Europe. The fountain is listed as a Japanese National Treasure.
In addition to the fountain in main garden are the Commemorative trees that were planted by different world leaders over time. In fact, Gerald Ford’s tree is right next to Mikhail Gorbachev’s tree. Queen Elizabeth also has one that she planted in 1975. What a blast from the past!
This goes without saying, but the Front Garden and view of the Palace is truly stunning. The craftmanship is top notch. If you go in the evening during a public event, the entire property is lit up to the level of a cinematographic scene straight from a period piece.
The space in front of the Palace is quite vast and allows for a couple of food/coffee trucks. Sit at one of the many umbrellaed iron tables and enjoy the view. I bought an orange infused iced tea and it was delicious!
Also in the front of the Palace are the guard houses, seasonal flower beds, Japanese Black Pines, and even a giant Castanopsis tree that’s over 200 years old.
As you look at these gardens, you will notice that walking through will eventually lead to the exit. Keep in mind that once you are out of the gate, there is no readmission so if you stored things in the lockers at the entrance, it would be best to retrieve them before reaching the gate.
How to get there: Hop on the Ome Express Line at the Fussa Train Station. Get off at Yotsuya Station. Take a left once exiting the station and it will be straight ahead. Honestly can’t miss it.
Daily from 10:00am to 5:00pm. Final admission is 4:00pm
(Cash and card OK)
Main Building and Garden:
Adults: 1500 yen
College Students: 1000 yen
Junior/Senior High Students: 500 yen
Children Elementary School age and younger: free
General: 300 yen
University Students and younger: free
*There are more admissions options avaiable for additional buildings on the property. Please reference further information on their website: geihinkan.go.jp