Samurai at the Imperial Palace


For over two hundred years samurai protected the Imperial Palace in Edo (now Tokyo). One of the more notable parts of the palace grounds is the complex of Samurai guard houses. There are three guardhouses (bansho) remaining all generally located near the East Gate of the Imperial Palace grounds.  The East Gate was the main gate for the Edo Castle during the Tokugawa reign.

Just behind (and above) this guard house one can see another building protruding. This smaller building actually lies just outside the gate (but still on the Palace grounds). The building is a large Dojo and Imperial Palace guards train there daily in Kendo.

The guard house pictured above is the largest of remaining guard houses and located just inside the East Gate entrance area. It is called the “100 person 3rd guardhouse” – Hyakunin Bansho. As its name would imply this building housed approximately 100 samurai, chosen from the four main branches of the Tokugawa clan. The 100 samurai housed in this building and worked in shifts.

Samurai were assigned to one of three duties at the Palace: The stand and return (tachi-kaeri) retainers accompanied each diamyo from his domain to Edo. The samurai stationed in Edo (edo-zume) served the diamyo while at the Edo estate and back to his domain.  The samurai permanently stationed in the capital (joofu) served exclusively in Edo.

Next to the East Gate guard house (on top) is a small garden. The gate house is on the way to the East Gardens.





The Imperial Palace grounds are a must see during the Sakura blossom season (mid March – Mid April). The views at this location are stunning during that time of year.



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