Kyoto Imperial Palace, Kyoto

Kyoto Imperial Palace, Kyoto (must see)

Not too far from the bustling heart of Kyoto lies a vast expanse of greenery, home to a staggering 50,000 trees. Stretching nearly a mile in length, this rectangular plot of land was once the exclusive domain of the emperor and his entourage, complete with 200 fancy noble houses. But when the capital packed up and moved to Tokyo in 1868, this area fell into disuse. Thankfully, it's now preserved for the enjoyment of the public, though it still plays host to various ceremonies like the coronation of a new emperor.

Now, here's the kicker: the emperor's old stomping grounds, known as Gosho, are now open to the public! Visitors can wander around the wooden buildings, soaking in the ambiance of symbolic authority. Lacking any fortifications, these buildings blend seamlessly with their surroundings, practically inviting the outdoors in with their sliding panels opening onto verandas overlooking a serene pond garden.

Originally constructed in 794, the current setup dates to 1855 after a series of unfortunate fires. Enclosed by a wall and crisscrossed with gravel pathways, the palace retains its essence—think low, sweeping rooflines and lots of wood—but it's been given a modern makeover.

As for exploring, you have options: follow the simple route marked with English signage or join a free guided tour in English (lasting an hour at 10 AM and 2 PM) at the Imperial Household Office in the park's northeastern corner. Just don't forget your passport—it's your ticket to join one of these tours!

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Kyoto. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Kyoto Imperial Palace on Map

Sight Name: Kyoto Imperial Palace
Sight Location: Kyoto, Japan (See walking tours in Kyoto)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Kyoto, Japan

Create Your Own Walk in Kyoto

Create Your Own Walk in Kyoto

Creating your own self-guided walk in Kyoto is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Gion District Walking Tour

Gion District Walking Tour

Famed as one of the most mesmerizing parts of Kyoto, Gion has long been associated with traditional Japanese entertainment, stunning temples, geishas, and local eateries, ideal for whiling away a day in the ancient capital of Japan. This district forms part of the Higashiyama (“Eastern Mountain”) neighborhood.

Among its notable landmarks is the Minamiza Kabuki Theater, a venue where...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
Kyoto Shopping and Food Tour

Kyoto Shopping and Food Tour

The cultural capital of Japan, Kyoto is just as famous as a shopper’s paradise and, without a doubt, the best place in the country to buy traditional and modern Japanese goods. Souvenirs, food, bargains, and various “one-of-a-kind items” are all up for grabs here.

In addition to its shopping scene, Kyoto boasts a rich culinary heritage, from Michelin-starred restaurants to humble street...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 Km or 1.2 Miles
Higashiyama Walking Tour

Higashiyama Walking Tour

Kyoto is a city catering to tourists, especially those who love history, religion, and, of course, Japanese culture. Many of Kyoto's attractions are found in the eastern part of the city, which itself is split into wards. One of them is the Higashiyama Ward, home to several famous temples, where the look and the feel of feudal-era Japan are still preserved.

One of Higashiyama's most...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
Walk on Philosopher's Path

Walk on Philosopher's Path

The Philosopher's Path in Kyoto winds its way for about 2 km along the canal that carries water from Lake Biwa to the foothills. Lined with cherry trees, this picturesque walking trail was named in honor of the famed Japanese philosopher, Nishida Kitaro, who used to walk here as a part of his daily meditation in the first half of the 20th century. A popular spot for both locals and tourists,...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Arashiyama and Bamboo Grove Walking Tour

Arashiyama and Bamboo Grove Walking Tour

The Arashiyama district of Kyoto is slightly out of the way for tourists, but that means you can enjoy it more comfortably.

Undoubtedly, the most popular attraction here is the iconic Bamboo Grove, a mesmerizing forest of towering bamboo stalks that sway gently in the breeze, creating an ethereal atmosphere. This serene setting is a must-visit for travelers seeking tranquility amidst...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Imperial Kyoto Walking Tour

Imperial Kyoto Walking Tour

The former capital of Japan, Kyoto is the city of tradition. During its heyday, Imperial Kyoto was the cultural and political heart of the country. At the heart of its historical landscape, there are several iconic landmarks, each bearing witness to the city's imperial past.

Nijo Castle, an architectural marvel renowned for its elegant design and elaborate gardens, boasts impeccably...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


18 Japanese Products To Bring Home from Kyoto

18 Japanese Products To Bring Home from Kyoto

The old capital of Japan, the city of Kyoto has once again been the talk of the world lately, thanks to the bestselling "Memoirs of a Geisha" book and the namesake Hollywood blockbuster movie. Renowned for its impeccable craftsmanship, Japan has so much to amaze a foreign eye with. Many of...