Walking Tour #1: Marunouchi and around the Imperial Palace

Quick history review: The Tokyo of today started out as a small, isolated bit of land in an almost completely encircled bay. It was a tiny village called Edo. In 1603, the ruling shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, took command of Japan and moved the center of civil and military control from Kyoto to Edo. He (and his sucessors) built a castle, moats, canals, walls to fortify his residence, and layed the groundwork for our modern day Tokyo.

To fund the growth of the city, the shogun had his inner and outer daimyo (weathly land owners) live for 2 years at a time in Edo, then they would cycle out and go back to their families and country farms. The difference between and inner and outer lords, were that the inner daimyo were loyal before the takeover, the outer ones figured it out too late. As a result, these most trusted inner lords had the more desirable locations in the new city– closest to the new castle, closest to the seat of power, in the area between the inner and outer moats.

The rule of the shogun ended in 1868, when Emperor Meiji came to power. Edo was renamed to To (east) Kyo (capital) and the daimyo were sent back to their home provinces. The land between the moats was used for government offices and military training grounds. 

Today, Marunouchi, is the financial center of Tokyo. 

Our first walk took us through the streets of Marunouchi, which literally translates to within the moats.


The Dai Ichi Insurance Building was built in 1938. Interesting note: at the end of WWII, General MacArthur had his Allied forces headquarters in this building from 1945-1951.

 Kusunoki Masashige was a 14th century samurai, a loyal defender of the Emperor.. 

Tatsumi-yagura, is a two-storey high keep at the easternmost corner of the Imperial Grounds, also part of the outer moat system.     


2 thoughts on “Walking Tour #1: Marunouchi and around the Imperial Palace

  1. Kristin

    So rich in history and beautiful, too…Love hearing all of us. Thanks, Julie! Will look forward to reading more about your walks!…A bit worried about the earthquake news we just read about from yesterday? Will email Mike to make sure you’re all okay…!

  2. Gram

    All the pictures and the history (in a nutshell) is great. Thank you, Julie. The last picture is really amazing with the ancient vs. the modern architecture.


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