Tourists to get greater access to Kyoto Imperial Palace, 14 other sites


In a bid to draw more tourists to Japan, the government says it will expand public access to more than a dozen state-owned facilities, including the Kyoto Imperial Palace, the Imperial Palace and the Bank of Japan.

The move to increase public access to 15 designated facilities will be part of a new tourism strategy to be compiled this month by a panel headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and comprising ministers and tourism experts.

The idea is to open Kyoto Imperial Palace in the ancient capital throughout the year, including on weekends. The palace, established in 1855, is open to the public twice a year — five days in spring and another five in fall.

At present, visitors to the Imperial Palace in Tokyo need to book ahead for tours offered only on weekdays. Under the new government plan, those tours will be offered on Saturdays as well.

The quota for visitors will increase, and Chinese and Korean will be added to the foreign languages available on the audio guides, which are now offered in English.

The government also said on Friday that plans to create slots for those who want to visit the BOJ’s head office in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward without reservations from June.

The Super-Kamiokande neutrino observatory 1,000 meters underground in Gifu Prefecture will also be open to visitors who apply in advance, according to the government.

The government will aim to put the changes in access to the palaces and the neutrino observatory into effect by the end of March 2017.

“We would like to look into ways to expand public access. We hope the growing number of foreign tourists will learn more about Japanese historical sites,” Taro Kono, minister in charge of administrative reform, told reporters after presenting the new tourism boost plans to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga at the prime minister’s office.