So Christmas day is a working day, but December 23 is a national holiday in Japan. This holiday is thanks to Emperor Akihito, who was born on this date in 1933. On this day, a public ceremony takes place at the Imperial Palace and the public is allowed inside its gates for a brief moment. This is one of only two days of the year that the public may enter the gates of the palace. The emperor makes several appearances, along with Empress Michiko and other members of the imperial family, on a balcony protected by bulletproof glass. It is here where they wave to the crowds who have gathered to sneak a peak of the emperor to wish him a happy birthday and sign the greeting book. For this rare opportunity to see the emperor and the inside of the palace grounds, arrive bright and early and expect large crowds.

Dec 23, 9:30–11:20am
Nearest station: Otemachi