Sunday, 25 August 2013
The closest station to the Akasaka guesthouse is Yotsuya station. Usually you can only see it from afar behind the gates, but on occasion it's possible to not only go a little bit closer but also inside.
I'd been inside the gates before on the 3rd of November last year, but was only allowed outside the front of the main building. If you make bookings in advance it is possible to be chosen to go on a tour of the rooms inside as well as viewing a limited fountain area behind the building.
Originally built as the Imperial Palace for the Crown Prince, now it is used as the official accomodation for visiting state dignitaries.
As you'd expect, security is quite high. They had set up airport style walk-through scanners. I brought my camera with my nice ultra-wide angle lens to take in the opulence of the rooms, but I was quite dismayed to soon find out that they didn't allow photos.
Why do they do this? I find out later they sell photo cards at the end of the tour. How convenient. I did manage to take a photo of the stairwell but sad to say it's not worth putting up here. If you'd like to see what you missed look here for a description of the rooms and their photos.
Tours inside are limited to 10 days a year and guests are chosen by lottery, so good luck if you get in. While it was kind of interesting to see what most people won't, you shouldn't lose too much sleep if you don't. From the first to the third of November there will be another open day. It is only outside, but pre-registration is not required.
Posted by Jimmy In Japan at 11:59 pm