Kyoto Imperial Palace, which was the residence of the Imperial Family until the capital was moved to Tokyo in 1869, is located in Kyoto Gyoen Park. Within the Imperial Palace grounds, which are enclosed by a roofed earthen wall, are the Seiryo-den (Palace Hall) and the Kyogosho (Minor Palace), which are highly reminiscent of this dynastic age.
Other than five days during spring and fall when the Imperial Palace is open to the general public, you must apply in advance to receive permission to view the palace. The Imperial Household Agency, located inside the walled park surrounding the palace, controls entry to the Palace.
Same-day permission is usually granted only for people joining the guided tour conducted by the Agency. To make a reservation for the tour you have to fill out an application form in person and present your passport. You can also apply online at the following website: http://sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/english/index.html
Guided tours in English are given at 10am and 2pm from Monday to Friday and at 10am on the third Saturday of the month. Once you receive permission, you should arrive at the meeting point 20 minutes prior to the start of the tour.
The Sento Imperial Palace located in Kyoto Gyoen (Kyoto Imperial Park) was built as the residence for retired Emperor Go-mizunoo in 1630. Although the palace was burned down and rebuilt again and again, its gardens and teahouse remain today. The garden was designed by renowned architect Kobori Enshu in the Round-the-Pond Garden style and has seasonal landscape.
Visitors should book in advance and can apply online at the following site: http://sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/english/index.html
The ostentatious style of the castle was intended as a demonstration of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu's prestige.