Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho) Tour, Kyoto

Kyoto Station  > Lunch  > Sentō Imperial Palace Tour

There are a couple of free activities that can be done when visiting Kyoto, and one of them is to visit the palaces. In order to visit join the Sentō Imperial Palace, you would need to join the free tours conducted and managed by the Imperial Household Agency. The Imperial Household Agency manages all the Imperial properties.

Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho)
The entrance

Given the limited number of permits given out per day and the popularity, to ensure that you do not miss out, the most direct and hassle free way to register for a permit online. The online process is relatively straight forward: once you have registered, you need to print out your 'permit' and use that as a ticket to allow you admission for the tour. Online reservations must be completed several days before the intended visit. [Application for Visit]

Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho)
Of course, you can also apply for the permit on the day itself, on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Note: The free tours of Sento Imperial Palace are held 6 times per day except on Mondays (or the following day if Monday falls on a national holiday). All tours are conducted in Japanese, but complimentary audio guides (English, Chinese, and French) are available.

The Sentō Imperial Palace is a secondary palace complex across from the Kyoto Imperial Palace and known as the residence for retired emperors. It was completed in 1630 for Emperor Go-Mizunoo's retirement, along with the corresponding Ōmiya Palace for the Empress Dowager Nyoin.

Unlike the palaces in South Korea, the palaces in Japan are still being used by Japanese royalty, so there are limitations in the areas that are being shown during the tours -  many if not all of the palace buildings (that are in use) cannot be entered, only appreciated from the outside.

Due to a fire in 1854, the Sentō Imperial Palace was never rebuilt, only the Ōmiya Palace was reconstructed and in current times, the Ōmiya Palace is used as the lodging place for the current prince and princess whenever they visit Kyoto.

The garden in Ōmiya Palace is the main attraction and where the Sentō Imperial Palace Tour takes place. The tours brings you through the garden which is comprised of the North and South Pond areas.

Before the tour began, we collected our English audio guide and were ushered into an area where an introductory video (in Japanese) about the garden was played. Once the video ended, the group was lead outside and soon the tour begin!

Collecting our audio guides and showing our permit to begin the tour.
Our tour guide for the day. Based on the (mostly Japanese) crowd, he seemed like an entertaining guide.

Perhaps our expectations of the audio guides were too high. If you are expecting anything more than just simple commentary about the items along the tour, than be prepared to be disappointed. The audio guides are a simple device - press the number of the item for the commentary and a short description will be read out to you.

Based on the reactions of the (Japanese) crowd, we seemed to miss out on the 'live' (and entertaining) commentary by the Japanese tour guide. Nevertheless, the tour was quite an enjoyable one with all that lush greenery set amidst a distinctly Japanese background and architecture. The garden is connected via 6 different (stone) bridges and paths across a large pond. There are also two tea houses within the garden. Ready for some photo spamming? Here we go!!

Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho) Tour
The tour began at this building
Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho) Tour
The main building at the entrance
Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho) Tour
A building which is most probably one of the tea houses
Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho) Tour
Another view of the buidling
Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho) Tour
A perfect day for a tour
Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho) Tour
A platform and stairs made out of wood
Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho) Tour
The large pond surrounded by all that green!
Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho) Tour
A bridge in the distance, covered by the green foliage.  We visited in late spring, so there were no blossoms.
Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho) Tour
A little steam leading to the pond with its side laid with pebbles.
Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho) Tour
A simple stone bridge
Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho) Tour
Another stone bridge
Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho) Tour
Another little stream where water flows into the pond.
Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho) Tour
A corner of the pond.
Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho) Tour
A stone bridge with a 'green' shelter.
Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho) Tour
A little boat hidden amidst the lush trees and leaves.
Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho) Tour
A mini waterfall.
Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho) Tour
The palace garden's South Pond
Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho) Tour
Stone lantern.
Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho) Tour
Another (different) stone bridge.
Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho) Tour
Such a tranquil setting - water, trees, flowers and even birds frolicking about nature.
Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho) Tour
The last tea house towards the end of the tour.
Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho) Tour
Another stone lantern.
Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho) Tour
The stone lantern was in front of the tea house.
[Video of the Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō Gosho) Tour]





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