The reason why the Japanese Emperor’s Palace in Kyoto has no walls


The Japanese Emperor’s Palace in Kyoto, “The Place”

The Japanese Emperor’s Palace in Kyoto, Japan is not surrounded by the fortress or the moat. How could the Emperor’s Palace be so simple and unprotected.?

The Emperor’s Palace in Kyoto is called  “Gosho” which means the “Place.” This location has been the Emperor’s residence from AD 1331-1869.  As in the Emperor’s New Year’s prayer, it has been believed by the people of Japan for over 2000 years that the Emperor has been protecting the people through his self-sacrifice.

As in the story of “People’s Cooking Pot,” the people of Japan have been voluntarily offering help the Emperor in return.  The reason why the Emperors were always been kept safe without a fortress or complex security systems is that people were protecting them.

The following is a Japanese Waka poem from the Anthology called “Hyakuninisshu.”

みかき守 衛士のたく火の 夜は燃え 昼は消えつつ ものをこそ思へ

The torches of the guards for the Emperor’s Place
They burn the night and disappear during the day
I ponder the meaning of it

Oonakatomino Yoshinobu Ason AD 921-991

The guards who protected the Palace gate were known to be volunteers who considered it honor to be able to protect the Emperor.


Eco Castle, the current Emperor’s Palace which was peacefully inherited from the Shogunate

The current Japanese Emperor Akihito is residing in the place of Edo Castle which is surrounded by a moat.  This was never meant for the Emperor since it was built for the Shogun who was the political and military leader. The only reason why the current Emperor is residing in Shogun’s Edo Castle in Tokyo is that the Emperor Meiji relocated to Tokyo in 1869 to take back the political power from the Shogun to show solidarity against the foreign threats.

Although the Emperor’s Palace in Tokyo is now protected by the professional Imperial Police, the volunteerism of the Japanese people at the Imperial Palace still remains today.