Kyoto Imperial Palace

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in Kyoto
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The Kyoto Imperial Palace (京都御所, Kyōto Gosho) used to be the residence of Japan's Imperial Family until 1868, when the emperor and capital were moved from Kyoto to Tokyo. It is located in the spacious Kyoto Imperial Park (京都御苑, Kyōto Gyoen), an attractive park in the center of the city that also encompasses the Sento Imperial Palace and a few other attractions.

The current Imperial Palace was reconstructed in 1855 after it had burnt down and moved around town repeatedly over the centuries. The complex is enclosed by long walls and consists of several gates, halls and gardens. The enthronement ceremonies of Emperors Taisho and Showa were still held in the palace's main hall, but the present Emperor's ceremony took place at the Tokyo Imperial Palace.

The palace grounds can be entered only on guided tours (in English or Japanese) held by the Imperial Household Agency. Tours take about one hour and lead past the buildings and gardens, but none of the buildings can be entered. Advance reservations (see details below) are mandatory and can be made online or at the Imperial Agency Office, which is also located within the Kyoto Imperial Park.

The Hall of State Ceremonies within the Kyoto Imperial Palace

Besides the Imperial Palace and the Sento Palace grounds, a few other historic sites are located within Kyoto Imperial Park, including the Kaninnomiya Mansion, a former residence of court nobles that is open to the public in the park's southwestern corner. Not far away stands a small branch shrine of Miyajima's famous Itsukushima Shrine on a small island of a pond.

The 1300 meter long and 700 meter wide park also serves as recreational space for both tourists and residents, featuring attractive, broad gravel paths, lawns and tree groves. A pretty group of weeping cherry trees stands beside Konoe Pond in the park's northwestern corner and is usually in bloom for two to three weeks from late March to mid April.

People walk and cycle along the gravel paths of the Kyoto Imperial Park

Get There and Around

Kyoto Imperial Palace is a ten minute subway ride from Kyoto Station along the Karasuma Subway Line. Get off at Marutamachi or Imadegawa Station. Imadegawa Station is closer to the Imperial Agency Office and the entrance gate of the Imperial Palace.

How to get to and around Kyoto

Hours and Fees

Free tours of Kyoto Imperial Palace are held several times daily in English and Japanese. No tours are held on Sundays and national holidays. Most Saturdays are also unavailable. Check with the agency for an up to date schedule.

To book a tour, you need to apply in advance with your passport at the Imperial Household Agency Office in the northwestern corner of Kyoto Imperial Park. Reservations are often possible for the same day. The office is open Monday to Friday from 8:45 to 12:00 and from 13:00 to 17:00.

Additionally, a small number of tour spots are available for reservation over the agency's website (see links below), however, these often get booked out far in advance. Online reservations must be completed several days before the intended visit.

For a few days in spring and autumn (typically from April 4 to 8 and from October 31 to November 4), Kyoto Imperial Palace can be entered without advance reservation and without joining a tour.

Hotels around Kyoto

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Hotel Sanoya

3 min from north exit of JR Kyoto Sta. but in quiet area. Cozy, clean Japanese rooms with bath. Internet PC in lobby.


Ryokan Wakamiya

Inexpensive, cozy inn with helpful staff. 7 min walk from JR Kyoto Sta. Free Internet PC. Communal baths on top floor.


Ryokan Hirashin

3min walk to Shijo Karasuma Sta. Spacious Japanese-style rooms. 140 years of history. Public baths renovated in 2006.

Japan Guide Recommends:

Backpackers Hostel Ks House Kyoto

One of Kyoto's most popular hostels. A ten minute walk from Kyoto Station.

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Hotel Granvia Kyoto

Located inside Kyoto Station, this is Kyoto's most convenient 4-star hotel.

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Hyatt Regency Kyoto Hotel

Elegant luxury hotel located near Sanjusangendo Temple.

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Khaosan Kyoto Guest House

Cheap and popular hostel located in the heart of the city near Kawaramachi Station.

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New Miyako Hotel Kyoto

Reasonably priced 3-star hotel located just across the street from Kyoto Station.

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Royal Park Hotel The Kyoto

Modern hotel along Sanjo Street close to Pontocho and other dining options.

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Tours and Packages

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Page last updated: December 26, 2014