Kyoto Imperial Palace Park

Kyotogyoen, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 602-0881, Japan

In 794 C.E., Emperor Kammu moved Japan’s capital to Kyoto, chiefly to keep the large Buddhist monasteries in the former capital of Nara from amassing even more power than they already had. (The capital and emperor moved to Tokyo in 1868.) The present imperial palace dates back to 1855, and it’s not the buildings that stand out but the extremely beautiful gardens and park, which is the city center’s main green space. Travelers need to obtain permission to visit the palace from the Imperial Household Agency, but the park is open to all. The plum trees and cherry blossoms bloom in March and April, and all year round the park attracts joggers, cyclists, walkers, and picnickers.

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Central Park, Kyoto-style. Take a leisurely stroll down one of the broad avenues, wander up to the Imperial Palace, relax on one of the benches (which are otherwise hard to find in Kyoto) and watch the world go by.

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