Originally created as part of the Imperial Palace, the gardens are now open to the public.
As part of constructing the Imperial Palace, areas enclosed by the eastern outer walls of the former Edo castle — Honmaru, Ninomaru and Sannomaru — were turned into gardens. Development began in 1961 and ended in 1968 with the public opening of the East Gardens. Covering some 210, 000 square meters, the gardens contain such buildings as Toukagaku-do, a music hall built in 1966 to commemorate Empress Kojun's 60th birthday, and Sannomaru Shozokan, which houses paintings, calligraphy and crafts handed down to the Imperial Family. Other major buildings include the Music Department, where public performances of gagaku (ancient court music and dance) are held every autumn, and Shoryobu, which manages the valuable archives and mausoleums of the Imperial Family. The closest railway station depends on the entrance gate. For instance, Otemon Gate is a five-minute walk from Otemachi Station on the Tokyo Metro and Toei lines; Hirakawamon-gate, a five-minute walk from Takehashi Station on the Tokyo Metro Tozai Line; and Kitahane-bashi-gate, a five-minute walk from Takehashi Station on the Tokyo Metro Tozai Line.