Mar. 12, 2019 UPDATE

Kyoto Imperial Palace

- 京都御所 -
Free English tours at the Kyoto Imperial Palace
Many locals can be seen freely visiting the Kyoto Imperial Palace courtyard for a stroll or even for a picnic when the weather is nice. Originally the palace was home to the emperor when the capital of Japan was known as Heian-kyo, or present day Kyoto city. The palace consists of several different structures that display traditional architectural styles. Throughout history, these structures were destroyed and rebuilt multiple times. However, the palace still stands today because of the rebuild ordered by the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1854, which made a speedy reconstruction of the palace possible. Today, English tours are offered at 10am and 2pm. Making a reservation online to reserve a spot is recommended. Your passport or residence card is required to enter.
The Structures through the lens of a Free Walking Tour
The Structures through the lens of a Free Walking Tour
Your guide will carefully explain the history of the structures that you pass by on the tour. The tour will guide you to Shishinden¬ーan important building within the palace. The tour also takes visitors to Shodaibunoma, a building that was used as a waiting room for visitors of the Palace. The guide will explain the separation of rooms by rank, and the display of beautiful paintings that are impressively painted with only black ink. Details of the structures and the layout of the palace can be closely seen through this tour.
The precinct Gardens
The precinct Gardens
There are two gardens the tour will take you to: Oikeniwa Garden and Gonaitei Garden. Both are well-maintained to this day. The gardens were created so you can view their scenery from many different angles. These beautiful strolling-gardens feature ponds, bridges, and greenery. Also, the colors of the garden will change throughout the year with the different seasons.
Stamp to Prove that You Were Here!
3Good Experiences
Stamp to Prove that You Were Here!
Are you collecting stamps throughout your trip? Look for the stamp on the counter in the area where shiny souvenirs are being sold for you to stamp away. Leave proof in your book that you visited the Kyoto Imperial Palace!
Manner & Tips
- Manner & Tips -
The walking tour is about 1 hour. There will be lockers provided for free. 
For an informative tour, listen carefully to the guide. 
Pamphlets will be provided in Japanese, English, or Chinese.

3.2 experience3.0 access3.0 photogenic3.5
Overseas Tourist-Friendly
3.2 experience3.0 access3.0 photogenic3.5
The guided tour was very informative and interesting! It's about 1 hour long in a group (at the time of my attendance, there was about 50 people). I was able to put my belongings in a locker so thankfully I didn't have to carry everything while on the tour. The structures are amazing and substantial! Expect to learn some history in this formal house of the emperor.
4.8 experience4.5 access5.0 photogenic5.0
Overseas Tourist-Friendly
4.8 experience4.5 access5.0 photogenic5.0
Kyoto Imperial Palace / 京都御所
Category Landmarks
Phone +81 75-211-1215
Address 3 Kyoto-gyoen, Kamigyo-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 602-8611
Directions 5-minute walk from Subway Imadegawa Station
Open Hours September and March: 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Entrance by 3:50 p.m.) October to February: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Entrance by 3:20 p.m.) April to August: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Entrance by 4:20 p.m.) Guided tour starting times: Japanese: 9:30 a.m. 10:30 a.m. 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. English: 10:00 and 2:00 p.m. Chinese: 10:00 and 2:00 p.m. *Those wishing to take part in the guided tour should get to the visitor's room 10 minutes before tour starting time. *You don't need to apply for the free tour, but there may be changes if there are too many people. *Big groups should inquire beforehand about the tours. *The tour takes around 50 minutes.
Reservations Accepted for tours
Closed Office is closed on weekends, national holidays and January 28 - Jan 4. *Tours are held on Saturdays but not on Sundays.
Notes English and Japanese tours are available at different times. Check their website for details.
Price range
Free tours
Credit cards No fee is required
Overseas Tourist-Friendly
Very informative tour in English
Information Japanese, English, and Chinese
Lanuages spoken Japanese and English
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