Tokyo boasts an array of remarkable government buildings accessible to the public. The National Diet Building, completed in 1936, serves as the epicenter of Japanese politics and governance. Positioned before it, the House of Representatives lies to the left, while the House of Councillors stands to the right. Both chambers welcome tourists, offering the opportunity for spontaneous sign-ups for complimentary tours. Come along to discover how you can visit and what you’ll see!

Legislative Legacy

Steeped in history, the inaugural Imperial Diet convened in 1890, albeit in a provisional structure that succumbed to fire shortly after its completion. Subsequent provisional buildings arose, only to meet similar fates. In 1920, the visionary design of Watanabe Fukuzo was selected for the present-day Diet edifice, marking the commencement of its construction. Despite interruptions, the grandiose building finally reached completion in November 1936, seventeen years later.

Functioning as the nucleus of Japan’s legislative framework, the Diet hall witnesses the deliberation of legislative bills, the delivery of the Prime Minister’s policy addresses, and the esteemed opening ceremonies graced by His Majesty the Emperor. Adorned with intricate details, including a ceiling skylight boasting an arabesque motif, the hall exudes an air of solemnity and tradition.

The Visit

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Central Entrance

The central entrance of the National Diet Building typically remains closed, with exceptions made for special occasions. It opens exclusively for His Majesty the Emperor during the Opening Ceremony, for newly elected Diet Members on their first convocation day after an election, and for visiting State guests.

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Central Hall

Beyond the central entrance lies the impressive central hall, situated directly beneath the towering central tower. Spanning an expansive floor area of more than 250 square meters, the hall boasts a cathedral-like ceiling that rises four stories high, allowing natural daylight to illuminate the space from above. Adorned with elegant stained glass windows and a ceiling, the hall also features bronze statues of distinguished figures who played pivotal roles in Japan’s parliamentary history.

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Emperor’s Room

Perched atop the central staircase from the central hall, the Emperor’s Room serves as a private space for His Majesty the Emperor during visits to the Diet. On the day of the Opening Ceremony, the presiding and deputy presiding officers of each House gather here to greet His Majesty. Crafted entirely from Japanese cypress finished with exquisite lacquer, the room embodies the essence of architectural and craftsmanship excellence from its era.

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Chamber of the House of Representatives

This chamber serves as the venue for plenary sittings of the House of Representatives. At its center stands the Speaker’s chair, flanked by the Secretary General’s seat. Cabinet Ministers occupy seats in the front row on the elevated platform beside the Speaker’s chair, with the Prime Minister’s seat situated nearby on the left-hand side. Members’ seats, arranged in a semi-circle around the rostrum in front of the Speaker’s chair, are allocated based on the proportional representation of political groups.

Committee Rooms

Dedicated committee meetings take place in these rooms, each designed with specific seating arrangements. While five rooms are housed within the Diet Main Building, an additional eight rooms can be found in the Committee Room Annex, constructed in March 1969 to accommodate the growing demand for committee space within the Diet compound.

The Outside

Outside, the National Diet Building serves as a canvas for nature’s spectacle, with a stunning avenue of ginkgo trees ablaze in golden hues during Tokyo’s autumnal splendor. Recognized not only as a seat of governance but also as a symbol of Japanese heritage, the building invites visitors to immerse themselves in its rich tapestry of tradition and history.

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How To Visit

The House of Representatives

English tours typically last about 60 minutes, offering you a fascinating glimpse into the heart of Japanese governance. Just keep in mind that tours aren’t available on weekends, national holidays, or during the end-of-year holidays from December 29 to January 3.

Participation in the tour is free of charge, with a maximum of 30 participants per day (up to nine people per application). Please note that you will not be able to book through tour operators or travel agents.

Now, let’s talk logistics. To snag your spot, you need to send an email to the official email address, filling all required fields. Once you receive a confirmation email, double-check your registration number and download your pdf registration form.

On the day of your visit, you need to bring with you your completed registration form, as well as your passport, and expect a bag check before starting the actual visit. Note that tours might be canceled last-minute due to happenings at the National Diet (they’ll let you know via email if that’s the case).

You can find all information, as well as reservation form, at the House of Representatives official webpage.

The House of Councillors

Weekdays offer a perfect opportunity for anyone to explore the House of Councillors. Again, expect the tour to last approximately 60 minutes, and those eager to join are kindly asked to head to the reception desk for visitors. While there isn’t an English-specific tour option, visitors are more than welcome to participate in the Japanese tours. Additionally, they’ll receive an English booklet to enhance their understanding of the experience.

You’ll find the reception desk conveniently located next to the Annex of the House of Councillors, marked with a signboard reading “Tours of the House of Councillors: Entrance”.

Visiting is allowed Monday through Friday (excluding National Holidays) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The reception desk closes at 4 p.m.

Keep in mind that on days when a plenary sitting is in session, visitors are not permitted from one hour before the sitting opens until its conclusion.

You can take part in both tours or just one, but keep in mind that you will visit different parts of the National Diet, depending which tour you’ll choose.