See the top landmarks of Kyoto as you stop by its most impressive castles, temples and its Imperial Palace, before finishing your day at a workshop learning to make a traditional Japanese woodblock print or cloisonné pendant. It’s a great combination of sightseeing and a chance to test your skills while creating a traditional Japanese handicraft.
Start your excursion with a morning pickup from select Kyoto hotels. Travel by coach to your first stop of the day, the UNESCO World Heritage site Nijo Castle, listening to a history lesson on the city of Kyoto from your guide on the way.
Arrive at Nijo Castle, an imposing structure built for the Tokugawa Shogun in 1603. You’ll perceive a stark difference between the castle’s fortress-like exterior walls and moat and its brilliantly-designed interior spaces, which sparkle with gold-leaf details. You’ll also hear about the castle’s “nightingale” floors, squeaky surfaces that were used to detect unwanted invaders by the Castle dwellers.
Continue next to Kinkaku-ji Temple, another World Heritage site and arguably the most visited in Kyoto. Check out the Golden Pavilion and impressive gardens within the temple’s grounds as you hear about the temple’s construction and origin from your guide.
Proceed next to the Imperial Palace of Kyoto, the one-time home of the Imperial Family between 794 and 1869 when Tokyo took over as seat of the empire. Admire the Palace’s Shishinden, perhaps the most beautiful structure within the complex, and the ceremonial go-to spot for events like royal coronations.
Stop your sightseeing for a short break, during which you’ll enjoy a lunch of traditional Japanese cuisine. Then continue on to the final visit of the day at the Kyoto Handicraft Center.
This workshop offers an intimate look at the creation process behind some of Japan’s traditional arts and handicrafts. Decide to make either a woodblock print or a cloisonné pendant, following the instructions of a staff artist who watches your progress and provides the materials. You’ll leave your session with a wonderful personalized souvenir of your Kyoto excursion.
Take a few moments after your workshop lesson to browse the center’s gift shop before making your own way back to your hotel or your next destination.
- Nijo Castle is closed on Tuesdays in January, July, August and December. Check out Ryoan-ji Temple, famed for its Zen gardens and temple as a replacement.
- Kyoto Imperial Palace is closed on Monday and, if Monday is a national holiday, Monday will be open and the following day will be closed. When Kyoto Imperial Palace is closed, you will visit Kitano-tenmangu Shrine instead.