Kyoto Imperial Palace
Kyoto Imperial Palace
4
About
This location was the home of the Imperial Family until 1868 when the formal residence was relocated to Tokyo. Free, guided tours are given daily but only to those who have made reservations in advance.
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The area
Address
Neighbourhood: City Center
No district of Kyoto is quite as representative of its blended nature as the City Center. By day, the covered shopping arcades along Kawaramachi and Shijo Street bring deal hunters and fashionistas out in droves to peruse the clothing, accessories, gifts, and home goods offerings. When it grows dark, the City Center is a hip spot for nightlife, alive with bars and clubs. A trendy culinary scene and an abundance of local watering holes give the Center its youthful vibrancy. In contrast, the quieter areas of the City Center seem a world away, shielded from noise by the foliage of the public gardens and zen spaces surrounding the area's shrines, castles, and the Imperial Palace. These ancient and sacred spots are seamlessly folded into the scenery, providing a respite from the energy of the city, but close enough to put you directly back onto the pulse of the city when you're ready.
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See what travellers are saying
  • Azarul F
    Shah Alam, Malaysia114 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Old traditional palace
    The Palace is surrounded by a huge garden so it's good to spend some time in the garden just to relax and unwind. Now on the palace complex itself. It was the official seat of Japan Emperor until it was moved from Kyoto to Tokyo. Entrance is free with normal procedure to check your temperature and content of your bags. The palace area is big with many buildings. There are descriptions available (and in the flyer given) for the buildings but you're not allowed to enter the building. Expect to spend 1-2 hours to fully soak in the atmosphere and understanding the history of the palace.
    Visited March 2023
    Written 1 May 2023
  • Biffro
    London, United Kingdom1,165 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Worth coming to see
    We weren’t going to visit this attraction but decided to go after passing it on the bus as curiosity got the better of us! We liked that the admission was free as a lot of the other attractions were charging 500 - 600 yen. The buildings were interesting and there was information in English displayed about the history of the palace which was helpful. we loved the traditional Japanese gardens with beautiful trees, plants and bridges over water. This attraction isn’t as busy as the other temples and it felt that there was more freedom to enjoy this without the usual hordes of tourists and cameras. Worth a visit.
    Visited May 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 21 May 2023
  • 2CAtravelers
    Brattleboro, Vermont878 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Wonderful Palace and Gardens
    We came here with our taxi driver who also served a bit as our private guide. He was able to share various stories of the history of the palace and its residents. The complex itself is vast and contains a multitude of buildings of all sorts. It's best to simply stroll around the set path direction and read what signs there are. We enjoyed our visit and are glad we didn't miss this. There is paid parking outside or use the local bus service, etc.
    Visited April 2023
    Written 10 June 2023
  • carloscharmy
    Bangkok, Thailand703 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Iconic landmark
    Kyoto Imperial Palace is a must-visit attraction! The fact that it is free to enter makes it even more enticing for travelers. If you find yourself in the area, don't miss the opportunity to explore the historical and cultural significance of the palace grounds. The stunning architecture and rich history of this iconic landmark are sure to leave a lasting impression on any visitor to Kyoto.
    Visited March 2023
    Written 22 July 2023
  • Jeff
    32 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Imperial Palace
    Beautiful buildings and history in middle of the city. Imadegawa subway station the best. Only one entrance and same exit to Imperial building grounds. Grab a brouchure and follow the route around this beautiful historic location. Its free. Friendly staff and sitting area with A/C for a break. There are free tours.
    Visited July 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 27 July 2023
  • KodoDrummer
    Buenos Aires, Argentina65,233 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Exterior views only
    I walked the property and gardens, viewed the exterior of the buildings, and read the displayed material. It was a nice, large residence of Japanese emperors, before they moved to Tokyo. The gardens, trees, shrubs, ponds, and bridges are all beautiful and well maintained.
    Visited September 2023
    Travelled solo
    Written 16 September 2023
  • Norm the Nomad
    Australia1,004 contributions
    3.0 of 5 bubbles
    Good - not great.
    Off to tour the Imperial Palace. It has been the residence of various past Japanese Emperors until 1869, at which time the capital was moved to Tokyo (during the Meiji Restoration). My impression ? … not as interesting as other Castles or Temples (as you cannot go inside) but nonetheless, nice and very big. I suspect the Emperor would have led a very restrictive life. A captive of his own birthright.
    Visited October 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 25 October 2023
  • E C
    Victoria, Australia267 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Free activity in Kyoto
    Unlike most things around Kyoto there is no entrance fee! The sheer size of this place is amazing and if you think about how it was constructed…, you cannot go into the palace but there are rooms you can view from the outside. The gardens inside were worth the visit.
    Visited November 2023
    Travelled solo
    Written 18 November 2023
  • minnesotans4
    Saint Paul, Minnesota2,862 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Gardens were my favorite
    The palace was the residence of the Japanese emperors for over 500 years until 1869 when the capital moved to Tokyo. There is no need for a guide since there is a very informative brochure given out in several languages. No one can enter any of the buildings. The gardens would be stunning in the spring with the cherry blossoms but were beautiful with the unique trees, stone bridges and a meandering stream.
    Visited December 2023
    Travelled with family
    Written 15 December 2023
  • Christian M
    Copenhagen, Denmark4,156 contributions
    3.0 of 5 bubbles
    Thankfully, Admission is Free
    Kyoto's ancient emperor palace consists of a handful of dull, enclosed buildings. Outside the buildings lies a massive park, resembling and designed as a public recreational area. Here, you can lie down and soak up the sun, and eat your packed bento box. There's also a pretty, smaller area with water, small trees, and a little waterfall. That's the highlight. After at most 30 minutes, you'll be thankful you didn't pay admission for this "pleasure." Better spend your time in Kyoto exploring the thousand orange gates and the golden temple.
    Visited April 2024
    Travelled with family
    Written 13 April 2024
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as waiting time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.0
4.0 of 5 bubbles2,465 reviews
Excellent
939
Very good
990
Average
415
Poor
85
Terrible
36

Christian M
Copenhagen, Denmark4,156 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Family
Kyoto's ancient emperor palace consists of a handful of dull, enclosed buildings.

Outside the buildings lies a massive park, resembling and designed as a public recreational area. Here, you can lie down and soak up the sun, and eat your packed bento box.

There's also a pretty, smaller area with water, small trees, and a little waterfall. That's the highlight. After at most 30 minutes, you'll be thankful you didn't pay admission for this "pleasure."

Better spend your time in Kyoto exploring the thousand orange gates and the golden temple.
Written 13 April 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Birgitta-Kenneth
Solna, Sweden1,491 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Couples
This old palace was used by the Emperors before they moved to Tokyo. Impressive buildings and a good setup with informative audioguides online. When in Kyoto, visit.
Written 11 April 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

msa23_2000
Chino Hills, CA1,510 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Solo
I skipped the palace and enjoyed the gardens which were stunning during Sakura (cherry blossom season). This is a great place to feel calm.
Written 2 April 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Soralala123
Singapore, Singapore31 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2024 • Couples
Like a museum seeing how the palace looks like. Nothing fantastic but if you like history can drop by to take a look as it’s free entry.
Written 19 January 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

misanthropicdreamer
San Francisco, CA545 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2023 • Family
It took forever to walk through gravel pathways next to a large wall to get to the correct entrance. Unless you are into the history of this period it is not very exciting to visit. There is a pretty little garden inside.
Written 25 December 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

minnesotans4
Saint Paul, MN2,862 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2023 • Family
The palace was the residence of the Japanese emperors for over 500 years until 1869 when the capital moved to Tokyo.
There is no need for a guide since there is a very informative brochure given out in several languages. No one can enter any of the buildings.
The gardens would be stunning in the spring with the cherry blossoms but were beautiful with the unique trees, stone bridges and a meandering stream.
Written 15 December 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Tipishca
Fordingbridge, UK341 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2023 • Couples
Wow! Free to enter, the area within the palace walls is huge! Lots of fascinating buildings and beautiful gardens, we were pleasantly surprised how interesting and delightful it was.
Written 25 November 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

E C
Victoria, Australia267 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2023 • Solo
Unlike most things around Kyoto there is no entrance fee! The sheer size of this place is amazing and if you think about how it was constructed…, you cannot go into the palace but there are rooms you can view from the outside. The gardens inside were worth the visit.
Written 19 November 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Norm the Nomad
Australia1,004 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2023 • Couples
Off to tour the Imperial Palace. It has been the residence of various past Japanese Emperors until 1869, at which time the capital was moved to Tokyo (during the Meiji Restoration). My impression ? … not as interesting as other Castles or Temples (as you cannot go inside) but nonetheless, nice and very big. I suspect the Emperor would have led a very restrictive life. A captive of his own birthright.
Written 26 October 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Bobbie W
Warwick, RI1,387 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2023 • Couples
The outside of the temple was no big thing. But like many other temples, the grounds were worth checking out. Like many temples, it’s the grounds that are worth seeing.
Written 9 October 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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