1. Main Gate of the Imperial Palace
Nishi-no-Maru Ohte-mon Gate of the former Edo Castle.
After crossing the stone bridge and the iron bridge,
the two bridges are commonly known as Double Bridge
but originally this was a dual structured bridge,
because of the entrance was in higher position in the Edo period,
the name of this bridge was based on this fact,
the Imperial Palace appears in front of you.
Fushimi-yagura turret / 伏見櫓, you can see a tower on the back screen, a two-layer, height is 13.4 meters, known as Moon Tower.
2. Sakashita-mon Gate
It is located in front of the Imperial Household Agency.
But originally was facing north, it was changed to face the east in the Meiji period.
3. Kikyo-mon Gate
It was named after the fact,
Doukan OHTA, built the first Edo castle,
has been used Kikyo, Chinese bellflower,
as the symbol of his family.
He was an excellent military commander, a poet and a virtuoso of building for the fortification, but was killed by the conspiracy of his monarch.
4. Otemon Gate
On the other side of the outer moat, the weeping cherry trees, shidare sakura / 枝垂桜, are beautiful in spring.
It was one of the front gates of the former Edo Castle.
Visiting daimyos/大名, feudal lords, had to enter the castle
from this gate.
In front of the gate, Ote-mon-bashi Bridge/大手門橋 used to stand and was landfilled in 1918. After passing through the fast gate, Korai-mon/高麗門, you will find yourself in the closed square space surrounded by some solemn stone walls and the second gate, Watariyagura-mon/渡櫓門, with roofed turret.
This is a strategically designed castle’s fortifications structure, called Masugata style construction/枡形構造.
It is said that Masamune DATE/伊達政宗,
a powerful daimyo from the Tohoku region,
voluntarily took part in and
built up to the Outer Masugata defense style
during the restoration of Edo Castle in 1620.
He had been highly respected from the third shogun Iemitsu TOKUGAWA.
In the early Edo period, it is said that Ote-mon Gate was under Honmaru building, around the current Doshin Bansho/同心番所, and was guarded by Koga-Ninja/甲賀忍者.
This gate repeated damage and repair due to disasters. The present Ote-mon Gate was built in 1967.
5. Hirakawa-mon gate
This gate and the wooden bridge in front of the gate,
restored in 1972, are the only cultural heritage that
keeps the atmosphere of former Edo castle.
Basically, although it is an inner masugata style construction, unlike other gates. The side walk/帯曲輪 is connected from the inside of Hirakawa-mon Gate to the former Takebashi-mon Gate/竹橋門, the arrangement configuration is complicated.
It was a side entrance for female servants, called Otsubone-mon Gate/お局門. In addition, it was also called Fujyou-mon Gate/不浄門. Because of it was said that sinners and bodies went out to the outside of the Edo castle through here.
6. Kita-hanebashi-mon gate
This gate was very important entrance leading to the main
buildings in northern area directly, not far from Ohoku.
It was an solemn inner masugata style construction.
There is only a Korai-mon/高麗門Gate now.
In case of emergency, it blocked the way by raising the bridge girder against the enemies, likes the drawbridge of Magere in Holland. The bridge was fixed in the Meiji period.
After passing through the gate, you can see the stonewall. This is the Tenshudai Donjon Base/天守台, standing 58ms tall above the ground, 5 storied building outside, it was the highest donjon ever built in Japan and symbolized the authority of the TOKUGAWA Shogunate. But it was burnt down in the conflagration of 1657, only 19 years after completion, since then the donjon of the castle tower wasn't rebuilt and now only the stonewall remains.
The stone walls are very strong and grand, and the moat is very deep.
7. Inui-mon gate
This is a Kyoto-style gate. It was transferred to its current location from Nishinomaru of the former Edo Castle in the Meiji period. Inui/乾 means the Northwest direction.
8. Hanzo-mon gate
It is located in the west side of the Imperial Palace.
This gate becomes the starting point of the Kostu Kaido,
a big road that extends to the west of Japan.
The origin of the name is said that Hanzo HATTORI/服部 半蔵, Iga-Ninja/伊賀忍者 leader, was in charge of the defense as the chief of guardians of the TOKUGAWA Shogunate in the Edo period.
9. Sakurada-mon gate
This gate was rebuilt in the 20th century, and designated as National important cultural property.
After passing through the fast gate, Korai-mon/高麗門,
you will find yourself in the square space surrounded by
some solemn stone walls and the second gate,
Watariyagura-mon/渡櫓門, with roofed turret.
This is a strategically designed castle’s fortifications structure, called Masugata style construction/枡形構造, designed to prevent intrusion of the enemies.