Flights were relatively inexpensive on United in March so even though we would be too early for rose blossoms we decided to go then. The temperature for the entire trip was cool but nothing where you would need more than a light jacket.
Our first stop was Tokyo and thus we had to go to the Japanese equivalent of the white house, right? As much as I thought the White House has become less and less accessible over the years with all the fences, gates and barriers being erected it pales in comparison to the Imperial Palace.
While beautiful and serene in its own right, the moat and fifty foot stone walls would make it a challenge to gain unapproved entry without befalling some embarrassing or life threatening calamity.
Unlike the White House which is the seat of our executive branch of government in the United States in addition to being a residence to our President and his family. The Imperial Palace is just a residence for the royal family. I think this fact makes a huge difference, whereas at the White House you can tell there is a flurry of activity with people coming and going on official business here at the Imperial Palace there is a quiet, somber sort of mood with little activity outside of the tourists enjoying the beauty of the grounds and snapping pictures of the historic structures. In fact, the only residents that I saw were these two Swans making the rounds in the moat.
The grounds are truly beautiful, with stone arched bridges connecting the inner cloister with the outside, large open fields and lush landscaping. Even though the grass was a bit yellow from winter, it was a sight to behold!
Another amazing discovery was how close in proximity to the city. As immersive as your stroll is through the grounds into the rich garden landscape you are literally a few steps a way to a busy street and a subway stop. It almost reminds me of the pyramids of Giza in that you expect them to be in some remote location standing in their own glory not knee deep in humanity but it turns out this is not the case. From a practical perspective, a palace such as this needs to be in a population center. Back in the day, mainly to ensure a steady supply of labor and material to support day-to-day operations.