Misadventures with Miso

Misadventures with Miso

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Where there is a Western Palace in Japan

During my trip to Tokyo last August I spent time up in the Roppongi Mori Tower getting a good look at Tokyo. I was intrigued by a large green roofed building set in a sea of trees. Later I discovered it was the Akasaka Palace, the sole Neo-Baroque style building in Japan. So on this trip off I was to see it for myself. I and a number of other people walked down a long avenue of trees to the impressive front gates.

Gates fit for royalty. Regent Crown Prince Hirohito that is. It was constructed starting in 1899 ending in 1909 as the Tōgū Palace but the Crown Prince only lived there for five years. Following that it has served as government offices and currently is the State Guest House. Thus the reason for all the security.

I was lucky with my timing because right before my visit the King of Saudi Arabia was in residence so the Palace and grounds were closed. When it's not you walk through a long line of security and more to get a ticket to tour the inside and the grounds. A young woman was very eager to assist me getting through the line. Turned out she did a home-stay in Portland, Oregon. Small world sometimes. While the tour inside is limited, the decor with carved moldings, hand painted ceilings and more is amazing. Sadly no photos allowed inside but they can be found online.

Once outside you are free to walk around the building and in some other areas. But as inside, security and cameras were everywhere. I was careful not to photograph much of that but I didn't realize there were people even up on the roof.

Just part of the side of this immense building with a guy up on top peering down at everyone.

I have no idea what they were doing up there. They look like construction workers but could be security wearing clothing to blend into the building. Here is a good look at that copper roof. The exterior walls are granite.

One of the two circular towers. The building was designed by a team of architects including Tokuma Katayama who created several western styled buildings in Japan.

Just a few photos from the back of the Palace.

One can get an idea of the size of this building. The grounds in the back have flowering trees and more, including an amazing fountain that will get it's own blog post.

For now, here are a few details from the back of the Palace.

After some time in the back I walked around to the front of the Palace. This is where state guests would arrive at.

Just one of the side entrances.

The pastel paint on many things gives a real French feeling.

Apparently the ostentatious ornamentation was even too much for the Crown Prince who chose to live elsewhere once he became Emperor. 

Still it is impressive to see. It is good they are making use of this building in some form.

The Imperial Chrysanthemum seal or mon along with two figures of Japanese samurai armor. 

If I remember correctly these are phoenix birds to represent the Crown Prince. 

Reminds me of the Nihonbashi Bridge.

The main entrance doors with the Imperial mon along with paulownia flower mon which may represent the Office of the Prime Minister of Japan.

And the doors next to it which do not have the Imperial mon.

 A look back at the Palace as I began the long walk back to the front gate.

But of course there was another ostentatious gate to go through.

 Part way on the long walk are two fountains off to the sides. Slight reminders of Versailles except for the pruned Japanese pine trees.

 And another look at that amazing front gate, from the inside. Interesting to note that one side the lamp glass is blue and the other side is white. I have no idea why but I'm sure there is a reason for it.

It was definitely worth it to see Akasaka Palace. Even if you don't understand Japanese, viewing the place was enjoyable if you like architecture or history. It definitely took me to another time and felt good to get out of the Tokyo crowds.

The Government website for visiting Akasaka Palace is here. It's important to check because it is not always open along with the rules for visiting.

There are also photographs of the inside of the Palace at the Government website here. I spent a good amount of time staring up at the ceilings, especially in the Hagoromo-no-Ma room. There one sees the sky with flowers floating down from above.

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