Kyoto Gosho (Kyoto Imperial Palace) (京都御所)

Kyoto Gosho is an imperial palace located in Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture. Since the Emperor's visit to Tokyo in Meiji Restoration, the Emperor has resided in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo (the former Edo-jo Castle) and thus the Kyoto Gosho has been preserved since 1877. Since the Meiji period, the Kyoto Gosho has also been called Kyoto Kogu.

Originally, the official imperial palace in Heiankyo was Dairi, situated nearby the center of Heiankyo, but after being devastated by wars, the imperial palace was moved to Satodairi (a temporary palace). Tsuchimikado-Higashinotoin Dairi, one of the temporary palaces, was the imperial palace in which successive imperial families of Jimyoin-to, later called North Imperial Court, resided. The imperial palace for imperial families of Daikakuji-to, later called South Imperial Court, was Nijo-Tominokoji Dairi. The current Kyoto Gosho is not the original Tsuchimikado-Higashinotoin Dairi itself, but was expanded based on it.

The Kyoto Gosho is usually open to the visitors by application and to the public in Spring and Fall.


The Kyoto Gosho was a residence and an office for the successive Emperors until the Emperor's visit to Tokyo in 1869. The existing (the 21st century) Kyoto Gosho is a national property and classified as "Properties for Imperial Household Use" under the jurisdiction of the Imperial Household Agency. Adjacent to the Kyoto Gosho lie Kyoto Omiya Gosho and Sento Gosho, and to the north, across Imadegawa-dori lie Doshisha University and Doshisha Women's College of Liberal Arts (both Imadegawa Campus). Today, the Kyoto Gosho, the Kyoto Omiya Gosho, and the Sento Gosho are maintained by the Imperial Household Agency, and Kyoto Gyoen, which is the national park around the imperial palaces, is maintained by the Ministry of Environment. Usually, the citizens of Kyoto refer to the Kyoto Gosho including the Kyoto Gyoen simply as "Gosho." Unlike castles in foreign countries, walls surrounding the Gosho are not very high, which is viewed as the difference in how the people of the East and the West feel toward their rulers (Imperial Family and the Emperor). This consideration is based on the example of the French Revolution in which the crowd broke into the Palace of Versailles, which was the palace of the ruler (king), whereas such an event has not occurred in Japan.

The original Dairi (the imperial palace) in Heiankyo was located to the west of and far from the current Kyoto Gosho, at the northeast of the intersection at Senbon Maruta-machi nearby the Nijo Station of West Japan Railway Company. The existing Kyoto Gosho was originally one of the temporary palaces and called Tsuchimikado-Higashinotoin Dono, which was initially used by the Emperor Kogon of the North Imperial Court (Japan) in 1331. During the Edo period, the Dairi was reconstructed eight times (six of them were caused by destruction by fire), and the existing building is called Ansei Dairi, which was reconstructed in accordance with the Heian style in 1855. Emperor Meiji, who had been living in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo for nearly ten years after his visit to Tokyo, visited Kyoto in 1877 and regretted to find the Kyoto Gosho being devastated; he ordered the preservation of the Kyoto Gosho to maintain its original scenery.

The main buildings in Kyoto Gosho inclulde Shishinden (Ceremonial Hall), Seiryoden, Kogosho, Gogakumonjo, Tsunegoten, Koshun, Osuzumisho, and Kogo Goten.

Sokui no Rei (Ceremony of Enthronement)

For generations, Ceremonies of Enthronement were held at Shishinden in Kyoto Gosho, and even after the Emperor moved to Tokyo in Meiji Restoration, under the former Imperial House Code as established in 1889 it was prescribed that the Ceremonies of Enthronement and Daijosai (the Great Thanksgiving Festival) should be held in Kyoto, thereby having the Ceremonies of Enthronement of the Emperor Taisho and the Emperor Showa in the Kyoto Gosho.

The present Imperial House Code as established after the World War II does not prescribe the place (e.g., Kyoto) for Ceremonies of Enthronement, and in 1990 for the first time in history, the Ceremony of Enthronement of the current Emperor was held at Seiden in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Takamikura, a formal imperial chamber used at the enthronement ceremony in which an Emperor seats himself to symbolically represent his Imperial Throne, is located in Shishinden in Kyoto Gosho, and thus, at the time of the Ceremony of Enthronement "Seiden no Gi" for the current Emperor (corresponding to "Shishinden no Gi") the Takamikura was temporarily relocated to the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

Kenrei-mon Gate

The main gate on the front entrance of the Gosho. The Gate is made of unpainted natural wood with a Kiritsuma zukuri style and Hiwadabuki style roof and is supported by four pillars that are 1.82 meters apart. The Gate is opened only for special events such as welcoming of the Emperor and foreign dignitaries as well as on the limited days for public viewing. Tsuiji-bei Walls on the left and right sides have five lines (horizontal lines), which represent the highest status as a wall. Past this Gate is the Jomei-mon Gate with a Ninuri kawara roof, leading to Shishinden on the front.


On the right is Sakon no Sakura (a cherry tree).

The Shishinden is the main building with the highest status in the Gosho, where the most important ceremonies such as Ceremony of Enthronement of the Emperor and Rittaishi no Rei (Ceremony of Investiture) were conducted. The Shishinden faces toward the south, facing Dan-tei (Courtyard) with white sand. The Shishinden is the Takayuka style imperial architecture with an Irimoya zukuri style and Hiwadabuki style roof, and is 33 by 23 meters in dimension. Latticed shutters are used as door fittings. Though the size of the building is large, the Shishinden is simple and less decorative. The Shishinden has Moya (an enclosed main room) in the center and a hisashi (an unenclosed veranda) to the north, south, east and west of the Moya. There is a wide space with a wooden floor inside the Shishinden with the Takamikura (Throne for the Emperor) in the center and Michodai (Throne for the Empress) to its east. Both the Takamikura and the Michodai are octagonal in shape and about 5 meters above the floor with a chair inside and tobari (a curtain) between pillars. In the back of the Takamikura and the Michodai lies fusuma (a sliding door) called Kenjo no Shoji, on which images of 32 ancient Chinese sages are painted. This has been the traditional subject of paintings since the Heian Period. The current Takamikura and Michodai were built at the time of the Ceremony of Enthronement of the Taisho Emperor, conforming to the old rule. At the time of the Ceremony of Enthronement of the current Emperor, they were taken apart once and then transferred to the Imperial Palace in Tokyo to be used. On either side of the Shishinden's main stairway lie trees, Sakon no Sakura (a cherry tree) on the left and Ukon no Tachibana (a mandarin orange tree) on the right.


Behind and to the west side of the Shishinden lies the Seiryoden, facing east. The Seiryoden is the Shinden zukuri style architecture with an Irimoya zukuri style and Hiwadabuki style roof, and the use of latticed shutters as door fittings is similar to the Shishinden. Originally, the Seiryoden was a residence and an office of the Emperor but it was used as a ceremonial hall after the Emperor's residence moved to the Tsunegoten. Inside the building is more partitioned than in the Shishinden, a reminder that this palace was originally used a residence. The Seiryoden has Moya in the center and Michodai inside of it, an area where the Emperor would rest. In front of this (the east side) lies "Hi no Omashi," an area of two tatamis. This was used as an office for the Emperor to conduct official affairs. On the north side of the Moya (i.e., on the right side viewed from the front of the building) is "Yon no Otodo" surrounded by walls. This was used as a sleeping room for the Emperor, but later became a room only in form after the Emperor's residence was moved to Tsunegoten. On the west side (i.e., behind) are Oni-no-ma, Daibandokoro (kitchen), Asagarei-no-ma (Emperor's room for eating breakfast), Ochozu-no-ma (Emperor's morning purification room), and Oyudono (Emperor's bathroom), while on the south side is Tenjo-no-ma (courtier's room). These rooms have paintings on the wall by Tosa school, the official painters at the Imperial Palace. In the garden in front of the front of the building, Kawatake Bamboo and Kuretake Bamboo are planted.

Image Kyoto palace garden01| Oikeniwa Garden
Image Kyoto palace garden02| Gonaitei Gar

External links

Wikimapia Satellite imagery

[Original Japanese]