I went on the guided palace tour in December, 2012. To be honest I found the tour a little disappointing - had initially though that you would see the residence from the outside like the White House or Buckingham Palace but that was not to be - the residence was behind a further wall and not to be seen even in the distance. Whilst an audio service in English was provided on the tour, often the guide made comments or statements in Japanese which I couldn't understand, for example he said something and pointed to a tree and everyone made a noise of excitment - I had no idea what I was supposed to be looking at or for - turned out to be a cherry blossom.
There was no resting on the tour and trying to keep in four lines was ridiculous. Some of the historic building like the old keeps looked great but the state meeting rooms were not that impressive from the outside.
It was also unusual that if you wanted to buy any souvenirs, you had to do so before the tour started and carry them with you.
Overall the tour was well guided and they ensured everyone was kept safe but looking back other than saying I 've been there nothing else was that memorable.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.