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Kyoto Imperial Palace

Japan's royal family no longer live in Kyoto Imperial Palace, but the imperial furnishings have been preserved. The immaculate parkland surrounding the palace is one of Kyoto’s favorite public gardens. The palace has been empty since 1868, ... 

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Karin M

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
October 2016

Very meaningful day. We were met promptly, had a knowledgable guide, and visited several temples, all different, as well as the Imperial Palace. Have used Viator many times around the world, and they are reliable and take you to the best sites.

Doing what: Kyoto and Nara Day Trip from Kyoto including Nijo Castle

Lauren J

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
May 2016

Excellent value for the money. We covered a lot of ground in one morning: the Golden Pavilion, Nijo Castle, and Imperial Palace. It was a bit hectic, but we were on a tight schedule and this was the only way to fit in so many sights. It would have been much more difficult and confusing to do this on our own, as we don't speak Japanese. However, the guide's English was very good and his explanations added a lot to the tour, as English signage was limited. Very worthwhile.

Doing what: Kyoto Morning Tour: Kyoto Imperial Palace, Golden Pavilion, Nijo Castle

davebaby

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
May 2016

Fabulous tour especially the visit to the Golden Pavillion and the Imperial Palace a highlight. Tour was well organised and our guide was excellent also. Highly recommended.

Doing what: Kyoto Full-Day Sightseeing Tour including Nijo Castle and Kiyomizu Temple

Jesse United States of ... 

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
January 2016

Even though this was my second time on this tour, this was again a really great second tour, lots of visits to historically significant sites such as the Kyoto Imperial Palace and other sites visited. Had great tour guides who were all very knowledgeable regarding past and current historical facts related to the beautiful Kyoto Imperial Palace, the Golden Pavilion, and Nijo Castle. I would recommend this tour to anyone having an interest in the rich history in the Kyoto area.

Doing what: Kyoto Morning Tour: Kyoto Imperial Palace, Golden Pavilion, Nijo Castle

Kyla D

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
December 2015

Overall this tour was worth it, below are some key points of the two tours morning and afternoon.
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Morning Tour:
1. The tour guide was awesome. She made jokes all morning and had lots of useful information. I learned a lot from her, not only about the tour locations we went to but about Kyoto while we drove around.

2. The tour was only slightly rushed in the morning, and only due to the Imperial Palace having strict arrival and departure rules. Overall we moved at a comfortable pace.

3. Every location we went to was worth the visit. None of the areas were too packed with people.
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Lunch:
The lunch was a good Japanese meal. It wasn't the most amazing meal I have had, but It surpassed my expectations for a meal that was included in a tour. I left full and satisfied, the meal was prepared well and tasted good.
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Afternoon Tour:
1. The tour guide for the afternoon tour was different then the morning. She was good, but I preferred the morning tour guide because she seemed to have more fun with jokes and interacting with us. The afternoon tour guide was friendly and knowledgeable. She kept us on schedule and informed with history of the areas we were in. She also taught us the correct way to enter temples and shrines.

2. The locations we visited in the afternoon seemed to be more full with tourists. I am not sure if that was due to the later in the day schedule or the locations.

3. Pacing was perfect. Never felt rushed and we covered a lot of ground.
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If I had to choose between the morning or afternoon tours, I would select the afternoon one. The locations we covered were more interesting to me personally and the pacing perfect. The morning one is very much worth it though, so if you have time to do the full day tour I suggest it.

Doing what: Kyoto Full-Day Sightseeing Tour including Nijo Castle and Kiyomizu Temple

A OM R

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
March 2015

Excellent no hassle tour - wonderful Buddhist palaces, very good tour guide Michiko and time for personal exploration

Doing what: Kyoto Full-Day Sightseeing Tour including Nijo Castle and Kiyomizu Temple

Alan Singapore

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
March 2015

We enjoyed visiting the locations, and the tour guide was so much fun to be with.

The Imperial Palace was closed on weekend so it was replaced by a Temple visit instead. The Golden Pavilion is so magnificent, that i wished i could go back to photograph it during all four seasons. Nijo Castle was rich with the Samurai heritage, learned many historical facts about the castle and its Shogun.

Doing what: Kyoto Morning Tour: Kyoto Imperial Palace, Golden Pavilion, Nijo Castle

Friedemann K

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
October 2014

Fantastic tourguide and the only chance to see Imperial palace to be on the safe site

Doing what: Kyoto and Nara Day Trip from Kyoto including Nijo Castle

Maria R

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
September 2014

Yes it was amazing and enjoyed the nipping live reindeers.

I wish to have been able to visit one if the interiors of the Imperial Palace and not only the garden.

My second time to Nijo castle and enjoyed it

Doing what: Kyoto and Nara Day Trip from Kyoto including Nijo Castle

Pacheco Ohana USA

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
August 2014

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.

Doing what: Kyoto Full-Day Sightseeing Tour including Nijo Castle and Kiyomizu Temple

Jesse United States of ... 

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
September 2013

This was a really great tour, lots of visits to historically significant sites such as the Kyoto Imperial Palace and other sites visited. Had great tour guides who were all very knowledgeable regarding past and current historical facts related to the beautiful Kyoto Imperial Palace, the Golden Pavilion, and Nijo Castle. I would recommend this tour to anyone having an interest in the rich history in the Kyoto area.

Doing what: Kyoto Morning Tour: Kyoto Imperial Palace, Golden Pavilion, Nijo Castle

pola

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
April 2013

Kyoto has a lot of very interesting and beautiful places to see. This full day tour may not cover all of them but it includes most of the must-see places. Lunch is included which is just ok. Our tour guide for the afternoon tour, Yuki, was very knowledgeable and fluent in English. My only complaint is that we were all in a rush especially the morning tour, and it seemed that we didn't have enough time to take in the beauty of the places we've been to. One family who was part of our tour group was left behind in the Golden Pavilion and had to take the taxi to rejoin the group in the Imperial Palace. The pacing of the afternoon tour was better, we even had time to buy some souvenirs in the shops near the Kyomizu Temple.

Doing what: Kyoto Full-Day Sightseeing Tour including Nijo Castle and Kiyomizu Temple

Ashley C

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
October 2012

We went on the tour in september. There are several stops in the tour. The golden pavillion, imperial palace, nijo castle, nara. You get just enough time at each spot. All interesting in different ways. The tour guide was very nice and always gave clear directions and good explanations on each attraction.
There is no way you could do so much in such a short period of time without doing a tour such as this. Highly recommend if you are short in time in beautiful kyoto.

Doing what: Kyoto and Nara Day Trip from Kyoto including Nijo Castle

Alana H Australia

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
June 2010

Get the best of both worlds Kyoto and Nara!!! A fantastic trip, my highlights were the Golden Palace in Kyoto and the Big Buddha in Nara. Just be mindful read the small print, if you book the trip for a Saturday you miss out on the Imperial Palace in Kyoto.

Doing what: Kyoto and Nara Day Trip from Kyoto including Nijo Castle

Diana S USA

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
August 2008

This tour was great. We got to see the Imperial Palace and a lot of deer! I never knew deer could be so at one with humans. Lots of history and informative. Definitely one to see.

Doing what: Kyoto and Nara Day Trip from Kyoto including Nijo Castle

Vega R

4 star rating: Recommended
November 2016

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.

Doing what: Kyoto Full-Day Sightseeing Tour including Nijo Castle and Kiyomizu Temple

rinee728

4 star rating: Recommended
June 2016

Great way to see some of the best sights of Kyoto when you're short on time. We were only in Kyoto for a day and this made it easy to get to some sights that were at the top of our list without the hassle. We got on the bus right near Kyoto station and the tour was well coordinated from start to end. Our guide spoke English very well and was well informed giving us interesting tidbits of both the sights as well as Japanese culture itself.

Of course, it's a bus tour so of course there will be a large group that you're travelling with and at times it can be hard to hear the guide especially because the sights themselves are crowded with tourists and local Japanese students on field trips. It's a half day tour, so you're at each site for about an hour, which was was more than enough time for us. Kyoto is full of shrines, but Golden Pavilion was by far the most beautiful that we saw. Nijo Castle was also a great sight to visit and get a sense of the world under Samurai rule. If you're short on time, can't beat this. Imperial palace was also interesting to see and it seemed like it would be somewhat difficult to get to see as an individual tourist as there was more security protocols at the sight and it seemed to only be pre-arranged tour groups that were there when we were walking the grounds. All in all, an easy way to get to a few of the sights that would be difficult and more time consuming to try to venture to on your own.

Doing what: Kyoto Morning Tour: Kyoto Imperial Palace, Golden Pavilion, Nijo Castle

Alexander P

4 star rating: Recommended
April 2016

This was an excellent morning tour to visit 3 of Kyoto's main attractions. Tammy was an entertaining guide with terrific local knowledge and experience. We were lucky to visit the Imperial Palace during one of there two 'open weeks' of the year and Tammy's expertise came to the fore. The Handicraft Centre was well worth the visit. I enjoyed creating my own woodblock prints with a one to one teacher. I even went back the following day to purchase two professionally made woodblock prints.

Doing what: Kyoto City Tour: Golden Pavilion, Nijo Castle, Kyoto Imperial Palace and Handicraft Center

Wayne S

4 star rating: Recommended
April 2016

Very good tour. Palace was closed and option was good. Buffet lunch was very good and very traditional

Doing what: Kyoto and Nara Day Trip from Kyoto including Nijo Castle

Stephen S

4 star rating: Recommended
April 2016

This company has very nice buses and our guide was filled with information and energy. The only downside for this tour...which is common for most tours of this kind is there's not enough time at each place. I suggest you read up on each place you'll visit for the basic information so you can take time to get great pictures in each place...because there really isn't any free time. Any time at the end of the guided portion of the tour in each spot will easily be consumed just walking back to the bus, grabbing a drink, or using the restroom. Also, you should know it's required to remove shoes for the Gion Palace tour. The Golden Pavilion is the highlight not only of this tour but quite possible of any visit to Japan. Pictures there will be amazing. I suggest doing some homework and then leaving your guide right away and getting photos...because with the crowds it's almost impossible to hear the guide anyway. Also, just the time it takes to walk the route around the Pavilion back to the bus will suck up most of the allotted time there.

Doing what: Kyoto Morning Tour: Kyoto Imperial Palace, Golden Pavilion, Nijo Castle

HuanJan

4 star rating: Recommended
August 2015

The tour guide was very knowledgeable and kind of funny which I thought was his strong point. It's bad that we weren't able to visit the Imperial palace it closed on weekend. But if you want to understand a bit of Kyoto history with a guided tour I recommend this one

Doing what: Kyoto Morning Tour: Kyoto Imperial Palace, Golden Pavilion, Nijo Castle

L C H

4 star rating: Recommended
May 2015

Really enjoyed this tour until the visit to the last shrine where we were caught up in so much traffic from other tour buses trying to get in and out of the car park . Would happily have given this visit a miss - but the other stops - Ninjo Castle, Imperial Palace , Sanjusangen-do Temple were amazing ! The guide was very knowledgeable and kept us under control ! The lunch was also very good . Would never have seen so much if trying to do by myself .

Doing what: Kyoto Full-Day Sightseeing Tour including Nijo Castle and Kiyomizu Temple

Jason C

4 star rating: Recommended
May 2015

Pros:
Excellent tour! The tour guide was knowledgeable, funny and easy to understand. The bus was clean and well presented. The sites visited were amazing.

Taking the tour made one day of our trip a little less stressful.

Cons:
Sometimes felt a little rushed, but understandable given that the tour had to be at the palace at a specific time.
Only the outside of the palace was visited - again, understandable, but not mentioned anywhere.
The food provided at lunchtime might not be to everyone's liking - certainly not a western style buffet!

Doing what: Kyoto City Tour: Golden Pavilion, Nijo Castle, Kyoto Imperial Palace and Handicraft Center

Winniefred B

4 star rating: Recommended
January 2015

The trip was nice however it was quite disappointing not being able to see Kyoto Palace. It was understandable though. I would suggest to those planning to go to Japan not to do any tours towards the end of the year since there are a lot of places closed in preparation for New Yeat.

Doing what: Kyoto Full-Day Sightseeing Tour including Nijo Castle and Kiyomizu Temple

Joseph L

4 star rating: Recommended
December 2014

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.

Doing what: Kyoto Full-Day Sightseeing Tour including Nijo Castle and Kiyomizu Temple

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