Scenic Japanese gardens, originally created for a retired emperor
Enjoy the beautiful royal gardens of Kyoto Sento Imperial Palace on their official guided tour.
Kyoto Sento Imperial Palace was originally built when the Emperor Gomizunoo retired. Sento Gosho (仙洞御所) literally means “retired emperor’s abode.” Although most of the buildings were burnt down in fires, the gardens are still well-maintained. You can stroll through the gardens on their guided tour. It takes about an hour to go around the garden with the guide, hearing their explanations along the way. You might want to grab an audio guide, since the tour is in Japanese.
Otsunegoten, the Dowager Empress’s abode
Not many of the buildings remain — the main one that was introduced was the Dowager Emperess’s abode. “Otsunegoten” literally means “the place that is frequented,” which makes sense if she goes there pretty often. Nowadays, visitors come to stay in the Otsunegoten. Kind of like a hotel for people of high status.
We passed this building, and walked into the expansive green gardens. Our tour guide introduced a North Pond and a South Pond, around which there are multiple bridges. I guess this was not quite the right season for flowers to bloom, but it was still very enjoyable to walk around.
When we were on the tour, we saw a white heron perched on one of the bridges. Quite a beautiful sight! There’s this and more, and it was great to hear the historical explanations from the guide.
Applying for a Visit
You can visit Kyoto Sento Imperial Palace for free, but you need to apply online and be selected in a lottery. While you’re at it, you should probably apply for multiple locations, including the Kyoto Omiya Imperial Palace nearby.
Find their online application here. For details, you might want to read the guidelines.