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“Not worth the effort to get in”

Kyoto Imperial Palace
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Ranked #38 of 1,120 things to do in Kyoto
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Owner description: This location was the home of the Imperial Family until 1868 when the formal residence was relocated to Tokyo. Free, guided tours are given daily but only to those who have made reservations in advance.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level 6 Contributor
119 reviews
55 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
“Not worth the effort to get in”
Reviewed May 9, 2013

You need your passports and you need to be advised of specific times that the Palace is open for viewing. There is quite a bit of red tape involved in being admitted and then a wait before the tour starts. Our problem was that we had to see everything from a distance as you are not allowed inside the inner courtyards and buildings, not even under supervision. You are made to stand in a group and shown pictures of what you are supposed to be looking at! The garden is beautiful, but again, only to be viewed from a distance. There is much more to see in Kyoto which is way more worthwhile and enjoyable.

Visited April 2013
Thank Jeanne B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Scottsdale, Arizona
Level 3 Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Beautiful buildings...make reservation first!”
Reviewed May 8, 2013

Our hotel was within walking distance of this huge site. The area within the outer walls (the walls you see from the street) is a huge park and you walk around anytime. The palace grounds are within a second walled area...and it's huge.

You have to make reservations first! It's free to take the tours, which are given 2x a day I believe. Fortunately my wife went online the first day we were there because the earliest appointment available was 10 days later. Once you're given a day and time save AND print out the ticket. We had no way to print from our iPad but they accepted just looking at the ticket on my wife's iPhone. No problem.

Get there 20 minutes early. Then you're directed to a Holding Area Room where you watch a video for a while. Our group was 152 people! There are lockers in the room so you can lock up anything you don't want to carry.

You MUST stay with the group
You MUST stay behind the guide
You MUST stay ahead of the rear guard (seriously)

I guess they don't want people wandering around and hiding out in the bushes (?)

The tour is nice, informative, and the guide spoke English very well.

You DON'T go INTO any of the buildings, and you don't see all of the grounds (fine by me).
There are two tour lengths; long & short, but I don't know what or how that is determined. We of course were on the long one.

Lots of photo ops but I had to wrangle my way past the rear guard to take some pix without other tourists in the shot. :-)


Typical with several of these places we visited, there is nowhere to sit down, nor could you with the rear guard.

You are walking on loose gravel, so if you have problems with long walks on loose stone be aware. Not sure about wheelchairs.

I think there was food nearby, but not within the walls.

This was the only place we visited that had this rear guard & point guard situation.


Visited April 2013
3 Thank Rob G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Singapore, Singapore
Level 5 Contributor
68 reviews
42 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
Reviewed May 7, 2013

We went there during the open house, where public can enter without making prior reservation.

Lovely place with THE best sakura trees I have ever seen.

Visited April 2013
Thank HYY_T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
“Imperial Palace”
Reviewed May 5, 2013

The night time display of the Cherry Trees and the markets inside the palace grounds were lovely, also the performance by the giesha was an interesting piece of culture.

Visited April 2013
Thank Nicolina25
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Virginia Water, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
53 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
“Not much to see besides the beautiful garden”
Reviewed May 5, 2013 via mobile

It is impossible to see the palace on an individual schedule, you must be part of the group to visit. We booked our tour through the hotel where we stayed and I am not sure it was worth it.

The palace is not in use for dozens of years and the emperor doesn't even stay there when visiting Kyoto. So not sure why all the security and strict visiting rules.

The garden is indeed beautiful and must be even more so during the Sakura blossom. Other than that there's little to see and the tour is very short - only about an hour - to fully appreciate the beauty.

Bottom line - if you have plenty of time on Kyoto, try and get on a group tour, otherwise there are better tourist options.

Visited May 2013
Thank D K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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