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Home - Travel - Sightseeing Guide - Kansai - Kyoto - Central Kyoto
Kyoto Imperial Palace 
# 9   of 59 most visited
sights in Kyoto

jump to:   access  -  admission  -  hotels  -  ratings  -  tours  -  links

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

Any Questions? Ask them in our question forum.

How to get there
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.

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Hotels and Ryokan
Kyoto offers a wide range of accommodation for all budgets and tastes, including historic ryokan, Western style hotels and low-budget hostels. Among the most attractive districts to stay are the Kyoto Station area, the city center around Shijo Street and the Higashiyama District.
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One of Kyoto's most popular hostels. A ten minute walk from Kyoto Station.
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Tours and Packages
Kyoto Tours
Various tours and travel packages for Kyoto and surroundings.

User Ratings
Ratings for Kyoto Imperial Palace:
japan-guide.com Rating:
  outstanding  
User Rating (by 858 users):
82/100
  recommended

Best rated sights nationwide (out of 788):
295.  Kokoen Garden (Himeji)   82/100
296.  Sagano Railway (Kyoto)   82/100
297.  Gion Yamakasa (Fukuoka)   82/100
298.  Science Museum (Miyazaki)   82/100
299.  Kankakei Gorge (Shodoshima)   82/100
300.  Kyoto Imperial Palace (Kyoto)   82/100
301.  Engakuji Temple (Kamakura)   82/100
302.  Takao (Kyoto)   82/100
303.  Botanical Garden (Nikko)   82/100
304.  Imperial Palace (Tokyo)   82/100
Most visited sights nationwide (out of 921):
34.  Fushimi Inari Shrine (Kyoto)   1852
35.  Tsukiji Fish Market (Tokyo)   1846
36.  Arashiyama (Kyoto)   1787
37.  Himeji Castle (Himeji)   1771
38.  Marunouchi (Tokyo)   1742
39.  Kyoto Imperial Palace (Kyoto)   1689
40.  Tokyo Dome City (Tokyo)   1596
41.  Itsukushima Shrine (Miyajima)   1582
42.  Minato Mirai (Yokohama)   1582
43.  Ryoanji Temple (Kyoto)   1571

User Feedback
We strive to keep japan-guide.com up-to-date and accurate, and are always looking for ways to improve the user experience. If you have any updates, suggestions, corrections or opinions, please let us know:

English Links
Imperial Household Agency
Official English website.
Application for Visit
English application page.

Japanese Links
Imperial Household Agency
Official website.
Application for Visit
Japanese application page.

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