National Geographic : 2001 Jan
The fish were destined for the Imperial Palace, where Emperor Akihito, Japan's 125th monarch, lives and works in an imposing 17th century castle complex that covers 284 acres of green at the heart of gray Tokyo. With its sprawling gardens, inky moats, and dazzling watchtowers, the palace lends a touch of old majesty to the rush of life in the capital. The palace is also a reminder of this culture's respect for tradition and of the ruling family's staying power, which reaches back at least 2,000 years in an unbroken line of Emperors and Empresses. That makes the family the longest reigning dynasty on Earth, symbolized by the chrysanthemum seal. Although most of the inner castle has long since burned and crumbled, enough of the outer battlements remain to send a chill through visitors seeing them for the first time. And that, of course, is the intended effect. Until the Meiji Emperor moved from Kyoto and into Edo Castle in 1869, the complex was the fortress of Japan's legendary Tokugawa shoguns, who kept their rivals at bay through a combination of wit, intimidation, and brute force. Edo Castle was never attacked. I understood why one morning, on a walk up Hibiya-dori, a major road that runs through Tokyo's Marunouchi district, where cars wheezed alongside an outer moat. At my THE PALACE AT TOKYO'S CENTER _ From the modest castle town of Edo (Mouth of the Estuary) grew modern Tokyo, now home to some 12 million people. Remnants of Edo Castle's moats and walls remain as reminders of the fortress shoguns built "unparalleled under heaven." Those feudal rulers yielded power in 1868 to the Meiji Emperor, who relocated Japan's capital from Kyoto and named his new city Tokyo (Eastern Capital). His standard, a gold chrysanthe mum on a red field, still travels with today's Emperor. :r a 1s'