The Grand Imperial Palace of Kyoto
The imperial palace is located at what was before the capital of the city, Kyoto. It serves as the imperial residence and the administrative center of Japan for most of the Heian Period (from 794 to 1185). In 1868, when the capital was moved from Kyoto to Tokyo, the Emperor and his family also moved there, and it then became their official residence, and where state affairs were conducted.
The palace was built in 794 A.D to 1227 at Heian-kyo, the capital city, and now known as Kyoto. It is situated inside a large rectangular walled enclosure where several ceremonial and administrative buildings including government ministries are found. Inside, was the residential compound of the emperor and residences of the imperial consorts. It also consists of several gates, halls and gardens. When Emperor Kogen was crowned, the main ceremonial hall then became the permanent location of the palace.
In 1788, a great fire destroyed the palace, and over the course of its history, it suffered several other fires and disasters, and was rebuilt many times. This version of the palace that’s currently standing now was completed in 1885, and the reproduction of the architecture and style during the Heian Period was done perfectly.
Within the Palace Grounds are buildings that include the Imperial Residence. The northern building is the Sentou, where the residence of the retired Emperor is found. The main building includes halls, the Shishinden or the “Hall for State Ceremonies;” the Seiryoden or what is literally called a “cool and refreshing hall;” the Kogosho or the “court room;” the Ogakumonsho or the “Imperial Library”, and a number of residences for the Empress, high-ranking aristocrats, and government officials.
In terms of its architecture, shinden-zukuri, or simply "shinden" was the style used for the palace, buildings and gardens. Everything was built according to Chinese Feng-shui rules of geomancy. The shinden is always oriented to face south, with a staircase opening onto a garden with a hill and pond and reachable by a garden bridge.
The Imperial Palace has three majestic gardens; those of Sento Imperial Palace (Sento Gosho), the Katsura Detached Palace (Katsura Rikyu), and the Shugakuin Detached Palace (Shugakuin Rikyu) that brought great beauty to the place. Within these gardens are historic sites and ruins from the Heian and Nara periods. The care and maintenance of the beautiful gardens are now under the “Ministry of Environment” while the buildings, temples and other architecture found within in the palace are administered by the “Imperial Household Agency.”
Today, the grounds are open to the public, and the Imperial Household Agency hosts tours of the buildings to show an important historical site, as well as the tradition and culture of Japan.
***All Images used are from Google Images