The Imperial Palace
Tokyo, Japan

Twice a year the Japanese emperor opens his palace grounds, on December 23rd, his birthday, and January 2nd, the first day of the new year (after the 1st which is to be spent with family). About 400,000+ people come and enter in one of 6 groups that enter every hour for a 10 minute showing. The Imperial Family comes out for a few minutes and waves, then the emperor speaks, then they wave more and return inside. This was my third time seeing it. Each time I go I take more people. Oddly I have seen the emperor in person more often than most all of my teachers.

Pictures from a 2005 visit, but not inside. Just around the palace and imperial gardens.

Lots of people waiting. Man that is a long line. Check out this cool hair, she is like 80 years old. The Imperial Palace is right in the middle of the Tokyo business district.
We get to walk over the famous Imperial Bridge. A nice castle view inside the palace grounds. A nice gate shot as we enter the viewing area. Ha, shoulda got here earlier.
Doesn't look very Palacey. Still not looking like a palace. All Japanese stations came in droves. The viewing booth.
An Imperial Stormtrooper, or guard at least. Police were mixed in the crowd and kept a close eye on people. The Emperor on the left and the Empress on the right. Thousands of people waving their flags.
Another waving shot, I think he is waving at me. A nice contrast of old in the middle of new. A closer shot. The exit gate.