Paulownia tree at Akasaka palace


In the background of Hiroshige’s print, characteristically dominated by a tree in the foreground, there’s Tameike Pond dominated by the hill where lies Hie Shrine, the traditional spiritual protector of Edo Castle. The photograph reproduce the same composition, with the paulownia tree splitting the image, while introducing the Akasaka palace in the background.


Akasaka Palace (赤坂離宮, Akasaka Rikyū) is one of the two state guest houses of the Government of Japan. The other state guesthouse is the Kyoto State Guest House. The palace was originally built as the Imperial Palace for the Crown Prince (東宮御所, Tōgū Gosho) in 1909. Today the palace is designated by the Government of Japan as an official accommodation for visiting state dignitaries. Located in the Moto-Akasaka, Minato, Tokyo, the building took on its present function in 1974, having previously been an imperial detached palace. In 2009 the palace was designated as a National Treasure of Japan.