Known as the cradle of Japan's cultural heritage, Kyoto was Japan's capital. Today it's the country's seventh largest city, thoroughly modern while remaining Japan's most traditional city. Get to know Kyoto with this three-day itinerary. Day ... 

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Ann K

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
December 2016

Highlight of the trip. It's actually very difficult to see a Geisha performance if you're a westerner. I heard a lot of the venues are members only and there aren't very many Geisha and Maiko, even in Kyoto. Prices are also extremely high. So when I saw the opportunity to partake in an organized group dinner, I jumped on it. It was magical. The ryokan that hosts it is in the heart of Gion, and looks amazing. The food was very authentic and local, and there were many courses and all-you-can drink plum shoju, beer, or sake. The performance by the Maiko and Geiko were amazing. We got to ask the Maiko questions after, and were able to get photos with them, and finally play some drinking games. They are stellar entertainers and I walked away feeling full of joy for partaking in such a magical experience.

Doing what: Maiko Performance with Kaiseki Dinner in Kyoto

Regina L

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
December 2016

Best tour! Knowledgeable guide, beautiful sites - superb experience

Doing what: Nara Afternoon Tour of Todaiji Temple, Deer Park and Kasuga Shrine from Kyoto

Neftali C

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
December 2016

This was a great experience, I went with my boyfriend for the tea ceremony with Kimonos. It was fun being able to dress up in kimonos and taking pictures outside before we began the tea ceremony. We both learned so much about the tea experience in Japanese culture and had fun trying to make the tea ourselves afterwards. If you want to learn about the Japanese culture and like tea this is a must do and in Kyoto of all places, where Japanese green powder tea was born. It was very fun and enjoyable, I really recommend this experience.

Doing what: Japanese Tea Ceremony with a Tea Master

Kevin S

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
December 2016

Great time and a helpful guide made seeing some of the highlights of Kyoto easy.

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

John H

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
November 2016

We had a great time and really enjoyed our experience and we strongly recommend opting for the 2 hours session rather than the 1 hour version as it seemed to be over so quickly for the people who started at the same time as us. Attentive instructors and great costumes. Allow sufficient time to find the venue as it was a little hard to find until we enlisted the help of a local shopkeeper!

Doing what: Samurai School: Samurai for a Day

george s

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
November 2016

Even with mobility issues, accommodations were readily available and the tour guides Superior. The in-sight, knowledge, and direction shared by the am and pm guides enriched our experience. The morning tour seemed rushed, too much to see, not enough time. Nara in the afternoon wonderful.

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

jfcjb002

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
November 2016

An easy to find location, around the corner from the National Museum.Thoroughly enjoyed this calligraphy lesson with Yoshei. I have a martial arts background so I can appreciate the spirit and process of this traditional calligraphy. Yoshei was a very genuine practitioner of the art, and was very encouraging and supportive while you were made aware of the disciplines of the tradition. Yoshei made sure you'd have something to take home it can cost for retail calligraphy. It felt a bit rushed, I could have comfortably spent 1.5 hrs instead of 1hr and paid a bit extra for this unique experience. Really nice teacher and experience!

Doing what: Kyoto Small-Group Cultural Experience: Calligraphy or Origami Class

jfcjb002

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
November 2016

Very special experience, well worth the cost. After speaking to the locals even they don't get to experience this. Yes its pricey but its exclusive. The food was nice but not unbelievable, and as far as all you can drink - well drink up cos you get distracted by the performance and the games a lot and last drinks are at 7.45pm. I was solo but had a friendly table, the Meikos were very friendly, easy going, beautiful, charming and happy to have photos taken. Everyone had a good time, but the Meikos are the stars of the show.

Doing what: Maiko Performance with Kaiseki Dinner in Kyoto

Diana P

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
November 2016

My partner and I had a surreal experience with our tea master Kimi and the other WAK women in Kyoto. I would totally recommend it to my friends and family when travelling to Japan. A must do!

Doing what: Japanese Tea Ceremony with a Tea Master

John A

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
November 2016

Excellent introduction to Japan. We had a lot of fun, and the photos wearing
kimonos were great!

Doing what: Japanese Tea Ceremony with a Tea Master

Mike d

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
November 2016

The tour of Fushimi Inari is an amazing sight and definitely the highlight of the Shinto temples we visited during our week in Kyoto. Our tour guide, Junko, was quite facile with English and offered many helpful insights regarding the Shinto temple visit and sake brewery tour. She was also very helpful guiding us along the complicated train system to arrive at each of our destinations. The final stop at the sake bar/shop was a great opportunity sample and learn about the different sakes. The selection of sakes for purchase at the shop was also outstanding. As an added bonus, our entire tour entourage consisted only of our group of three travelers, making the experience feel quite VIP.

Doing what: Fushimi Inari and Sake Brewery Tour

Marie-Therese D

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
November 2016

A good tour to have a global view of Kyoto.

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

Lutgadis Aso M

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
November 2016

Mrs. Seiko was very expert about Japanese Tea Ceremony : She do the ceremony with beautiful way

Doing what: Japanese Tea Ceremony with a Tea Master

Delia Teresa G

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
November 2016

It was a wonderful tour. I strongly recommend it for everyone.

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

Xian L

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
November 2016

This tour was amazing! Our tea master was attentive and knowledgeable and she took heaps of photos of my mum and I wearing kimonos. Both my mum and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience!

Doing what: Japanese Tea Ceremony with a Tea Master

cooper.gem

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
November 2016

Well organised tour with a half day in Kyoto and then a trip to Nara. Nara is totally worth doing, but I don't think you need more than half a day, so this is perfect. So glad we picked this tour.

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

Simon G

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
November 2016

Excellent tour - well organised, very knowledgeable guide - you see some key highlights of Kyoto if you have limited time/tolerance for organised tours. Warning: if you like to stuff around getting back on the bus or can't be bothered being punctual don't go on this tour. The guide is excellent but doesn't tolerate lateness - which is a good thing - some people are just slack and rude.

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

fumikops

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
November 2016

I read all of the positive reviews about this tour and decided to reserve this for my grandma and me. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS DINNER TO ANYONE!!! It was a unique experience that we will both never forget. I was worried that it would be cheesy since it is mainly for tourists, but it felt authentic and we got to experience Kyoto's omotenashi hospitality. There are translators who provide explanations in English and Japanese so even if you don't understand Japanese, no problem. I also love that they allow and encourage photos and videos so that we can leave with many mementos. Good food, unlimited drink, games, warm hospitality. We quickly lost track of time since we both had lots of fun, but if I remember correctly, it was about three hours. In addition to the games, each of the geiko personally visited with tables to talk with us and answer our questions. When we left, we waited a few minutes for our taxi. Since it was cold, they apologized even though it was not a problem and not their fault as we waited on a bench near the exit. They then brought out a warm blanket for us until the taxi came - real omotenashi. Totally worth it! Would do it again!

Doing what: Maiko Performance with Kaiseki Dinner in Kyoto

Dena H

4 star rating: Recommended
November 2016

Both tour guides were wonderful and explained all in detail. Disappointed that we didn't go to Gion, lucky we ended up doing that on our own. Western style lunch would have preferred traditional Japanese after all we are in Japan. This tour is worth doing but suggest include Gion district.

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

jfcjb002

4 star rating: Recommended
November 2016

In context I did this at the end of my stay in Kyoto. So it was relaxing to sit back in the bus and not think about timetables or anything. The Todaiji temple is extraordinary, to be a villager in the past this temple must have been God like, well worth it. The Shinto shrine was I think to be fair to both religions was nice as well but less spectacular. There is so much to see in Kyoto, if you are a bit pooped and need a relaxing afternoon/evening, choose this. Plus the meeting location is easy to find and accessible to Kyoto station across the road from 'back' entrance, downstairs they didn't mention at the front of the Avanti Building.

Doing what: Nara Afternoon Tour of Todaiji Temple, Deer Park and Kasuga Shrine from Kyoto

cathi United States of ... 

4 star rating: Recommended
November 2016

This was a good sampling of places and just enough time to see everything without a lot of waiting around. The afternoon in Nara was fantastic as was seeing the golden pavilion Kinkaku-ji. The only thing I'd change is that they should get some whispers personal listening devices used on other tours for everyone instead of just the one big speaker that the guide uses. We often had to go without hearing her commentary because of the crowds and noise. The bus was comfortable and while we could have likely managed the morning sites in Kyoto on our own, the afternoon coordination and transportation would have been hard to manage within the time constraints. Definitely worth the add on - they did a good job with it.

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

Leslie W

4 star rating: Recommended
November 2016

Be warned that this is a large group tour so there's some logistical chaos getting everyone onto to the allotted tour buses at the start each bus has it's own guide. The congestion of Kyoto itself, and the hordes of visitors at the attractions, also means the tour is managed with typical Japanese efficiency, so can feel somewhat rushed and regimented at times - this is a necessary evil.

The Full-Day tour is an amalgamation of the two half-day tours and can make for a long day. However, if you only have one day to make it to some of the Must see sites, this is a great way to do it. Our tour guides were lovely and lots of fun, just make sure to keep close to your guide or risk missing out on the tour information.

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

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

Vega R

4 star rating: Recommended
November 2016

Arashiyama is a western suburb of Kyoto, so we took the train to get there. Once there, we walked through the streets of the town, admiring personal shrines put up by people living there, to Tenryoji Temple. We walked through the botanic garden, which has signs identifying the various plants. Next we walked to the bamboo grove and on a path through the forest of bamboo on our way to the Jojakkoji Temple. We walked past a lake and then up many sets of steps getting to the temple, then up more steps to get to the pagoda, then up more steps to get to a vista point overlooking Kyoto. Heading back, we walked past the Suminokura Ryoi statue on our way to the river. At the river, those people on the tour who had purchased the package including lunch on a boat waited for a boat, while the rest walked along the river to the Togetsukyo Bridge. The tour guide gave us our return train tickets and stayed with the group having lunch on a boat. We then walked along the street in this touristy area and found a place with pizza for lunch, next to a souvenir ship. After lunch we walked across the Togetsukyo Bridge to the Iwatayama Monkey Park. After leaving the park, we walked back to the train station. It was a very pleasant day, and we enjoyed the pace of the tour.

Doing what: Arashiyama and Sagano Morning Walking Tour

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