Sento Imperial Palace in Kyoto

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  • Kitaike Pond of Sento Imperial Palace in Kyoto

    Kitaike Pond of Sento Imperial Palace, Kyoto

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Facts & Figures

Kyoto Sento Imperial Palace (Kyoto Sento Gosho) is part of the Kyoto Gyoen National Garden (Kyoto Imperial Palace Park). It was a residence for retired emperors. Sento Imperial Palace consists of a large garden with two tea houses (Seikatei Pavilion, Yushintei Pavilion), two ponds (North Pond - Kita-ike and South Pond - Minami-ike), many white and red plum trees, cherry and maple trees, wisteria trellis, azaleas, and much more. Best Ryokans in Kyoto Experience the Ultimate Japanese Hospitality at a Kyoto Ryokan.
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The well-known samurai, garden designer, architect, and tea master Kobori Enshu (1579 – 1647) was responsible for the garden layout. He was famous for his minimalist aesthetic and approach and incorporated the beautiful seasonal changes in the garden scenery. If you would like to see this place you have to join a Japanese guided tour (audio guide available for English, Chinese, French, Spanish, and Korean) and you must be at least 18 years old. The whole tour is organized by the Imperial Household Agency. The buildings, like the Seikatei teahouse, can only be admired from the outside, but the strolling garden itself is worth a visit.

  • Guided tours for Sento Imperial Palace:
  • Start Hours - 1:35 pm, 2:30 pm, and 3:30 pm (duration time: 1 hr)
  • Closed - on Mondays
  • Registration (first come first serve) begins at 11:00 am at the North Gate of the Kyoto Sento Imperial Palace - more details >
  • Admission - free
  • Important - The maximum number for each tour is 35 persons.

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Kyoto Sento Imperial Palace also called the secondary palace complex was built in 1630 near the Kyoto Imperial Palace together with the corresponding Omiya Palace. It became the retirement place for Emperor Go-Mizunoo (1596 – 1680) and at a later stage, all retired emperors used it as their residence. The garden was created in 1636 by Kobori Enshu (1579 – 1647). He belonged to the powerful Tokugawa shogunate and created also the Ninomaru Garden at Nijo Castle (Nijo-jo). Emperor Go-Mizunoo made some minor adjustments to the garden design in 1664. The last major fire in 1854 destroyed all the main buildings, besides the tea houses, and they were unfortunately never rebuilt. In 1867 the Omiya Palace was reconstructed within the Sento property and is used now as the accommodation place for the Emporer and Empress as well as by state guests once they are in town.


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Sento Imperial Palace is located within the Kyoto Gyoen National Garden in the Kamigyo Ward in the center of Kyoto.
Address: Kyoto Gyoen 3, Kamigyo-ku, 602-0881 Kyoto

How to get to Kyoto Sento Imperial Palace?

  • 10min from Kyoto Station to Marutamachi or Imadegawa St. by Karasuma Subway Line

Sightseeing spots at Kyoto Sento Imperial Palace


Ponds - The North Pond (Kita-ike) and South Pond (Minami-ike) form the center of the kaiyushiki teien stroll garden.

Minami-ike pond - The South Pond is really unique because of the large amount of oval pebble stones (10 cm diameter) representing the sandy beach of an ocean.

Facilities - Enjoy during your tour the Otsunegoten(Residential Palace, Tsukabashi Bridge, Momijibashi(Maple Bridge), Tosabashi Bridge, Otaki Waterfall, Yatsuhashi Bridge, and the two original teahouses called Seikatei Pavilion and Yushintei Pavilion.

Festival & Events in Kyoto (dates can change without notice)


Miyako Odori (1st - 31th)
The traditional annual spring dance of the Kyoto district Gion Kobu performed by Geiko and Maiko is a must-see on your Kyoto visit. Don't miss the most popular dances the Miyako Odori "Cherry Blossom Dances" or "Dances of the Old Capital" at the Gion Kobu Kaburenjo Theater (located close to Gion Corner).


Aoi Matsuri (15th)
The highlight of this festival is a large parade from the Imperial Palace through the Shimogamo Shrine to the Kamo Shrines. More than 500 people wearing aristocratic costumes from the Heian Period (794 - 1185). The Aoi Matsuri belongs with the Gion Matsuri and Jidai Matsuri as the three most famous festivals in Kyoto.


Aoba Matsuri (Green Leaf Festival) at Chishaku-in (15th)
The festival is an ancient ritual of followers of the Shingon sect of Buddhism, which is called Yamabushi. They participate in a series of ceremonies like celebrating the birth of founder Kobo-Daishi (744 - 835).


Gion Matsuri (whole month)
The month of July is full of different events like the Yoiyama - Kyoto's Magical Night (locals in kimonos look at the giant Gion floats the day before the parade) or the famous Yamaboko Junko (float procession on the 17th of July).


Jidai Matsuri ("Festival of Ages") (22nd)
People celebrate with a large parade between Imperial Palace to Heian Shrine the anniversary of the foundation of Kyoto. App. 2000 participants wearing historical costumes from different time periods. Enjoy this great festival which lasts around 2 hours. Illumination event at Kodai-ji (end of October - beginning of December)

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Top rated - Best Machiya Houses in Kyoto

THE MACHIYA Ebisuya, 192 Ebisuya-cho Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8062

This 3-star guesthouse got an excellent rating. All 30 individually furnished rooms offer free WiFi, air conditioning, bathrooms incl. toilets, fridges, 40-inch flat-screen TVs, and more. THE MACHIYA Ebisuya is located in central Kyoto.

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The Machiya Kazahaya, 570-6 Kazahayacho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto, 600-8475

The Machiya Kazahaya offers for all guest rooms free WiFi, air conditioning, safes, bathrooms with toilets, refrigerators, and much more. Enjoy also the beautiful Japanese Garden. Guests gave this property the rating - Exceptional.

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Kyomachiya Ryokan Sakura Urushitei, 425 Kichimonjicho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, 600-8069

This beautiful 3-star guesthouse offers 32 rooms with free WiFi, air conditioning, bathrooms incl. showers and toilets, refrigerators, and much more. Enjoy also the relaxing indoor public bath (no minerals). Guests gave this property the rating - Wonderful.

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