Government Guesthouse in Tokyo opens to public

Kyodo

The Government Guesthouse at the Akasaka Imperial Estate in Minato Ward, Tokyo, opened to members of the public Friday morning for a two-week trial ahead of an extended opening from April.

The complex is often used for accommodation and as a meeting space for visiting heads of state and guests of similar standing.

Officially named the State Guesthouse, Akasaka Palace, it is normally opened for 10 days each summer. But this year’s extended opening is part of ongoing efforts to boost tourism in Japan and attract more visitors from overseas.

The government plans to monitor visitor numbers during the trial run and make necessary changes before the neo-baroque building opens to the public year-round.

The main building, vestibule and Japanese-style annex will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day until Feb. 18. The complex will be closed on Wednesday and Feb. 17. It is the first time the annex will be opened to the public.

Entry to the main building will be limited to between 2,000 and 3,000 people per day. There will be no restrictions on entry to the vestibule. A lottery to enter the annex has already closed, with 1,200 people allowed to enter over the two-week period — less than one-tenth of those who applied.