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Tokyo Travel Guide

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Imperial Palace and Government District

The Imperial Palace was built by the order of Ieyasu Tokugawa, who chose the site for his castle in 1590. The castle had 99 gates (36 in the outer wall), 21 watchtowers (of which 3 are still standing), and 28 armories. The outer defenses stretched from present-day Shimbashi Station to Kanda. Completed in 1640 (and later expanded), it was at the time the largest castle in the world.


district is the core of Japan's government. It is primarily comprised of Nagata-cho, the Imperial Palace (Kokyo-gaien), the Diet (national parliament building), the prime minister's residence (Kantei), and the Supreme Court. The Imperial Palace and the Diet are both important to see, but the Supreme Court is nondescript. Unfortunately, the prime minister's residence is only viewable from afar, hidden behind fortified walls and trees.

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