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What a brilliant way to see Kyoto! Tatsuya met us 6 people at the train station and took us to the bike rental....although a pricey tour 96 pp, included was bike and helmet and a Japanese snack you could have the bike all day if you wished, it was well worth it. Tatsuya is a crazy cycling enthusiast who cycles the world. He was so informative, fun and interesting. Mainly did the Eastern side of Kyoto....Heian Jingu Shrine, Nanzenji Temple, Path of Philosophy , Chion-In temple in Maruyama Park, Yasaka Pagoda and all around the back streets of Gion and the Geisha area. Supposedly 3 and a half hours but was more like 4 and a half....brilliant tour and there is no way we would have found these places by ourselves. Tatsuya knew all the back streets which meant we didn't have to deal with too much traffic. Of course being the cherry blossom season it was a superb way to see them all by bike. Highly recommend this tour and was a highlight of our stay in Kyoto. Thank you Tatsuya.
Doing what: Kyoto Small-Group Bike Tour
Pacheco Ohana USA
This was our third Viator tour on this trip. We were picked up in Kyoto at the hotel we stayed at (New Miyako); again, very convenient. Our tour guide, Yoshi, was the best of the trip...very knowledegable and funny. Niho Castle was the highlight of the tour and it worth the trip--awesome. Heian Shrine was next and was a very spiritual place, again, worth the visit. From there, we visited the Golden Pavilion and got some great pics and good luck charms. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant (part of the tour) and had a great traditional lunch, shabu-shabu style. After this, we got back on the bus but were again plagued by the bus' inadequate AC, as it got hot and humid outside. The entire tour group resorted to opening the windows and braving the stickiness rather than the oven it had become inside. Our next stop was the imperial palace replica. It was immense and provided stunning pics and memories. Kiyomizu temple was out last stop. The shopping on the road up to the temple was another major attraction, here. At the conclusion of the tour, we were returned to our hotel at approx. 5pm, so we still had time to walk around Kyoto! Don't miss this one--imo its a good investment in time and money for what you get--experience this important area's major sites, explained by an expert, eat great local food, excellent shopping opportunities, and convenient pickup/drop-off. We'll do this one again, someday.
Our guide was excellent. Sanjusendo and the Kiyomizu temple were multi-faceted and well worth the time spent visiting them. The Heian shrine was, likewise, interesting.
The guide was knowledgeable and congenial. We did not go to the Imperial Palace. We were told it was closed since the day before was a holiday Sports Day. We took a tour bus to Nijo Castle, which was the former center of the shogun's rule before he returned power to the emperor in 1866. It has several buildings and extensive gardens. The buildings are known for the artwork inside on the walls, ceilings, and sliding screens. The building is also know for the nightingale floors, which chirp when walked on. With a tour group, the was a lot of chirping. No photos were allowed inside. We had to take off our shoes as well. My husband wears special orthopedic shoes, so he toured the gardens while we toured the castle. We later found out he could have used shoe booties like shower caps for shoes. The castle was undergoing renovations, but it did not affect the interiors or the gardens. We were able to buy a booklet with photos of the interiors. Next the bus took us to another temple Nishi Honganji, I think, then to Kinkaku-ji Buddhist Temple Golden Pavilion. The bus parking was near the lake. Across the lake is the temple, so you can admire its reflection on the lake. Then we walked around the lake to the other side where the temple was, but it was not open for visitors, so we continued around the lake and through the greenery to a pathway to a small shrine and then back to the parking lot.
The bus then took us to the Kyoto Handicraft Center where we were able to browse until lunch. The Center has two buildings. The first building has armor, ornamental swords, fans, dolls, jewelry, and more. Upstairs is where lunch was provided, in two shifts. The second building has books, postcards, and souvenirs. Lunch was cafeteria style and included fried chicken, a hot dog/sausage without bun, French fries, noodles, rice, soup, and soft drinks.
The afternoon tour took us to the Heian Shrine Shinto Shrine first. This is a place where people go to ask the spirits for good fortune. It was built as a replica of the Kyoto Imperial Castle, so the architecture is beautiful and it has gardens around it. Next we went to Sanju Sangendo Buddhist Temple, which has the 1,000 life size statues of Sanju Kannon Buddhist deity. Each statue has 40 arms and each arm has 25 eyes in the hands, so they each have 1,000 ways of seeing. There is an 11-foot tall Sanju Kannon in the middle and there are 28 statues of guardian deities. No photos were allowed inside and we had to take our shoes off, but here we were provided with shoe booties for my husband. We were able to buy a booklet with photos of the inside. Then we went to Kiyomizu Buddhist Temple. The bus parked in a lot at the foot of the street leading to the temple. The street goes uphill to the temple steps and was jampacked with people, with stores lining both sides of the street all the way to the temple steps and several shrines. Once at the temple steps, the crowds were less. The temple is open to anyone and has a vista over Kyoto. Behind the temple is a terrace with steps leading downhill to a waterfall and eventually a pagoda, but we didn't have time to go there. After leaving the temple, the bus took us back to our starting point next to Kyoto Station.
We enjoyed both tours. Some places we would have liked to linger for longer, but in a quick tour like this there really isn't time. The lunch was good and the Handicraft Center was an interesting place. Not knowing much about Kyoto, we found it helpful to pick up booklets along the way to help fill in the gaps - otherwise we would have a hard remembering which place was which.
nice relaxed tour from Kyoto Station area to northeast area of Kyoto to Heian Shrine, Nazenji Temple, Philosopher's Path and more. Our group was only 4 people, so we had a good opportunity to cover a lot of ground and our guide was very accommodating, nice and knowledgeable. This was a great orientation for my second day in Kyoto - a fabulously bike-friendly city...
Doing what: Kyoto Small-Group Bike Tour
Tour was good for an overview of Kyoto. Enjoyed: Nijo Castle, Golden Pavilion, Sanju-Sangendo Hall, and Kiyomizu Temple. Disappointed with Imperial Palace since only got to walk on the outside. Would have skipped Heian Shrine and used that extra time at Kiyomizu Temple instead. Didn't have enough time at Kiyomizu Temple to really enjoy it. Lunch wasn't filling enough. Tour guides were great and friendly.
Very good tour. Loved seeing Kinkakuji, Nijo Castle and Kiyomize Temple again. Didn't understand why Heian Shrine was included. Aren't there more historical sites? Also didn't understand why Kiyomizu was in the afternoon when it was the hottest time of day.
Marilou V Philippines
We only had a day to spend in Kyoto, and this tour allowed us to see the highlights of the city in a short time span. We specially liked the Kiyomizu Temple with its quaint street shops and fantastic view. The Heian Shrine was also captivating for its gardens, which we learned from our lively tour guide was also the setting for Memoirs of a Geisha. But I would have to say that what made this tour really special was the extra mile our tour guide took to make our sightseeing memorable. Our party had wanted to see the Gion district after the tour had ended, and had asked him to drop us off somewhere near the area. Not only did he do that, he also personally went with us to show us the side streets and points of interests in the area. In this case, what made the difference from numerous other tours is his personal touch and his generosity with his time. Thanks!!
PreppyMom United States of ...
Big group of 50 people. I cannot understand or hear the tour guide although she does try. Except for Sanjusangen-do Temple, there is minimal information about the place we visited. It's more for transportation. She just take us there and bring us back. You are better off going on your own. Sanjusangen-do Temple and Kiyomizu Temple are worth seeing. Heian Shrine is NOT. Kiyomizu is very crowded and noisy. Because of this tour, I did not book Viator for my future tours and I am more cautious when booking with Viator.
Robin T United Kingdom
Unfortunately, the Heian Shrine was open to all, so it was extremely crowded. There were too many people on the tour, so individuals got lost and time was wasted waiting for them. Sanjusangendo was magnificent and needed more time than we had. Kiyomizu Temple was fascinating but needed more time. The guide was good, but with too many people was really not able to cope and give all the information we wanted. The tour needs to be for no more than 30 people.
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