Introduction to Kyoto Tour with Nijo Castle and the Imperial Palace

Get acquainted with Kyoto and its history.
From US$291 privately
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Tour Details
3 hours
Product Type
  • Nijo Castle
  • Kyoto Imperial Palace
  • Kyoto Gyoen National Garden
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Tour Description
Once the Imperial capital of Japan, the city of Kyoto still stands as the heart of Japan. On this 3-hour Introduction to Kyoto tour, we will discover the story of the emperors and the shoguns as we visit important sites such as the Imperial Palace (known as ‘Gosho’) and Nijo Castle. We will get an understanding of Kyoto’s biography and dig through the deep layers of history and traditional culture that overlap in this fascinating city. 

Our Introduction to Kyoto tour begins at the Imperial Palace, the former residence and ruling Palace of the Japanese Emperor. Known as ‘Kyoto’s Central Park’, we will start by exploring Kyoto Gyoen National Garden surrounding the imperial properties. At this green sanctuary, we will soak up the abundance of natural beauty and discuss the aesthetics of the Japanese landscape. Moving onto the inner Palace, we will visit a few buildings within the complex and gain insight on the city’s development, and the Palace’s role as the former political and cultural center of Japan as well as its relation to the Imperial family. 

After leaving the Palace, we will pay a visit to a local confectionery shop that served the Imperial court in the time of Emperor Goyozei between 1568 and 1611. With more than 400 years of history, this shop served the emperor until the 19th century when the Imperial court was relocated to Tokyo. During our time here, we will taste some wagashi (traditional Japanese confections) and learn about the secrets behind the beautiful and intricate design of wagashi and tea ceremony. In addition, we may engage in miso tasting at a local miso shop that also served the emperor until the start of the Meiji Restoration. 

We will then hop in a taxi and continue our tour to Nijo Castle. This UNESCO World Heritage site was the residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first in a line of powerful Tokugawa shoguns that ruled the country for over 200 years. We will take a look into the daily life of a shogun and discuss the rise of the power the shoguns held over the emperor during the Edo period and its influence on the representation of the emperor. 

At the end of our Introduction to Kyoto tour, we will emerge knowing more about Kyoto’s role in developing core cultural and political history in Japan. 
  • Nijo Castle - Former Imperial Villa Nijo-jo Castle has witnessed the changes of Japan, including the prosperity and decline of the Tokugawa Family
  • Kyoto Imperial Palace - The former palace of the Emperor of Japan, located in Kamigyō-ku.
  • Kyoto Gyoen National Garden - This area was the Court Nobles Residential Area in the Edo period. After World War Ⅱ, Kyoto Gyoen was changed to be a national garden
  • Is it okay to tip my guide in Japan?
    Yes. Context clients generally tip anywhere from 10-25% of the purchase price of a personal service such as this, depending on the quality of the experience and their tipping habits.
  • This tour has an optional meeting point transfer if you'd like a private car to pick you up from your accommodation. If you choose to add this service, please add the address to your accommodation in the Additional Details section
We understand that some of our valued guests may have mobility concerns, and we want to ensure you have a comfortable and enjoyable experience throughout your tour. If there are any accessibility concerns that your tour guide will need to be aware of, please let our team know at the time of booking.
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(4.74) 65 Reviews

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It was an amazing introduction to Kyoto. Nick was incredibly knowledgeable. He is a great story teller and we learned so much. His attention to detail enriched the experience
Nick engaged my 3 kids aged 11,9 and 6 very well. We learnt a lot about Japanese history from the edo to Meiji period. We have done many guided tours and Nick was one of the best that I’ve encountered. Thanks Nick for giving the kids a crash course in Japanese history!
If you love history, this is a terrific tour! Nijo Castle, especially, was beautiful inside and out, and Gavin had fascinating stories and information about emperors and shoguns. My adult daughters said he is like that wonderful college professor who brings history to life. Thank you Gavin!