Visiting Kyoto Imperial Palace and Kyoto Gyoen National Garden
Located inside Kyoto Groen National Garden is the Kyoto Imperial Palace – by visiting one, you get to visit the other. Kyoto served as the capital of Japan from 794 to 1868 and during this time, the Imperial Family lived here. Like many buildings that date back this far, it has been built and rebuilt a number of times in its history.
We arrived at the Imperial Palace around 1:30PM and were happy to see that entrance does not require a reservation and is free! There are a long list of rules in terms of what you are permitted or not permitted to bring in as well as conduct in the grounds.
We grabbed a map and stopped by the visitor center where we discovered free tours being offered throughout the day. While ones in Japanese are more frequent, there are a few offered in English as well. Our timing was not great to join the English speaking tour but the map provided a lot of information that we could self guide ourselves which seems to be the more common approach to visiting the Palace.
Our stroll took us past many beautiful and ornate buildings to admire the architecture and woodworking marvel that occurred without any modern tools to create the structures. CONSULT MAP FOR MORE DETAILS .
My favorite part is the beautiful Japanese garden located in the back of the complex. This perfectly manicured area has a diverse collection of foliage, fauna, and landscape that is calming and aesthetically pleasing.
After the Palace, we walked around Kyoto Gyoen National Garden. This is one of three national parks in Japan and is enormous at 1300 meter long and 700 meter wide park with tons of areas to explore. We certainly did not have time on this trip to see everything but there really is something for everyone. This area is especially popular in the spring for all the cherry blossoms and gets quite crowded as well. For our stroll, we enjoyed weaving along the gravel paths, admiring the giant trees.
We had a great afternoon exploring Kyoto Imperial Palace and Kyoto Gyoen National Garden. Definitely include a walk through this area on your Kyoto itinerary, especially if the weather is nice and the flowers are blooming. It is a great free activity that is full of beauty and nature, and easily accessible from anywhere in Kyoto!