[ Jan.2020 ] During our stay in Japan this time, we visited Akasaka Palace, the State Guest House in Tokyo.
A friend of ours invited us to go together because they were exhibiting the open-top car which had been used for the parade of the new emperor.
Because it was early in the new year, the palace itself was closed, though.
We met up at the Yotsuya station and walked up to the palace and found that there was a very long queue in front of the front fence.
We were astonished to see that as we did not expect that at all.
When we stood at the end of the queue, the person in charge was shouting, “The waiting time will be more than 1 hour!”.
We did not flinch and patiently queued.
Naturally, the first thing we saw was the front gate which is a national treasure.
According to the respectable booklet we received later, this gate was designed to be similar to the ones at French palaces including Versailles, but maybe because I have not seen Versailles for a long time, this reminded me of the Catherine Palace in the suburbs of Saint Petersburg in Russia.
We moved forward slowly along the 160 metres fence.
At last we got into the site from the West Gate, but found another queue for the security check.
We did that and finally we were free, out from the queue.
It took about one hour as the worker had told us.
In fact, in the front garden, there was another long queue and this was to see the open-top car from the front.
We decided not to join it and saw the car from the back.
My husband and I had not see the emperor’s parade itself and I had been expecting an old fashioned decorative car, but it was in fact an ordinary black car.
The tyres had a gold phoenix on them, which was impressive.
No manufacture’s logos were on the car.
I remembered seeing the private car of Makarios, the archbishop and the president of Cyprus a few years ago.
The building of Akasaka Palace was similar to many European palaces but it was not so large.
According to the booklet, this was built in 1909 as a residence for the Crown Prince and the only Neo-Baroque style palace in Japan.
After World War II, the management was transferred to the Japanese Government and it took on a new roll as a State Guest House in 1974.
On top of this western style building, there were statues of Samurai in armour.
The booklet shows the photos of inside of the palace and it seems there are many designs combining Japanese and Western styles.
We walked around the building to the main garden.
Here, there is another national treasure, the fountain.
On top of the fountain, there are Shachi, the creatures with the head of tigers on fishlike bodies and they are surrounded by turtles and Griffins ( a winged creature from Greek mythology).
The booklet says “Although located in the heart of Tokyo, not a single skyscraper interrupts the sky line”, but that is when you see the fountain and the palace building together in front of you.
If you look at the fountain from the palace building, you cannot avoid some office buildings.
In the flowerbeds beside the building, there were some trees planted by the famous visitors here, such as Gorbachev and Reagan.
We came out of the site through the small gate right next to the main gate.
Probably we stayed there about a half of the time of our queuing time.
Normally they open the gorgeous inside rooms to the public.
I would like to see that, too some time.
We have seen many palaces in Europe, but not the one in Japan, which is unfair.