Kyoto Imperial Palace
Trip Start Jan 02, 2013
70Trip End Mar 17, 2013
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When I came to Kyoto ten years ago I signed up for a free guide from Kyoto Free Guides. It was a good experience so I decided to do it again. One of their volunteers offered to spend two days with me, which wound up turning into two and a half days because of when he could get reservations. He came by my hotel in the morning.
My guide had applied for and received free tickets for the four properties managed by the Imperial Household Agency and also secured reservations for Saiho-ji, a temple with an interesting garden. We set off to see the first, the Kyoto Imperial Palace.
I visited the Kyoto Imperial Palace when I was here before but I thought it was worth seeing again. It's the only tour offered for any of the four properties managed by the Imperial Household Agency that is sometimes offered in English. My guide signed us up for one of the English tours.
The palace was the official residence of the emperor of Japan from the late 1100s until the 1800s. It can only be visited on a tour and you aren't allowed in any of the buildings You only get to see the buildings from the outside but you do get to tour the gardens. The gardens are quite nice. I'd love to get to see them a little later in the spring when more of the trees are blooming.
We had some time before our next reservation so we had a quick lunch. It was then time to head for Sento Gosho, which is next to the Kyoto Imperial Palace. There was once another palace at this site but it burned down and was never rebuilt. There are now only a couple teahouses and some gardens but they're really nice gardens. If you go to the Kyoto Imperial Palace you should definitely try to get tickets to Sento Gosho as well.
We had some time in the afternoon so we headed for Fushimi-inari-taisha. This shrine is known for the hundreds of vermillion torii (shrine gates) that form tunnels winding around the hillside. It's also known as the place where Memoirs of a Geisha was filmed although I didn't see anything that I remember from the movie. We walked through the tunnels until it started getting too dark in the tunnels to take pictures. Then we headed back down the hillside and caught the metro back to the hotel.