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Kyoto Tour Vol. 1

Refer to Kyoto Tour.
As you well know, Kyoto was Japan's capital and the emperor's residence from 794 until 1868. It is now the country's seventh largest city with a population of 1.4 million people and a modern face.
Over the centuries, Kyoto was destroyed by many wars and fires, but due to its historic value, the city was dropped from the list of target cities for the atomic bomb and spared from air raids during World War II. Countless temples, shrines and other historically priceless structures survive in the city today.

Nijo Castle (Nijojo)

Nijo Castle (Nijojo) was built by Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Edo Shogunate, as the Kyoto residence for himself and his successors.
The palace building, now known as Ninomaru ("secondary castle"), was completed in 1603 and enlarged by Ieyasu's grandson Iemitsu. It survives in its original form and is famous for its Momoyama architecture, decorated sliding doors and floors that squeak like nightingales when someone walks on them (a security measure against intruders).
Iemitsu also added the Honmaru ("main castle") including a five storied castle tower to Nijo Castle. However, the original honmaru structures were destroyed by fires in the 18th century, and the present building was moved there from the Imperial Palace in 1893.

Kyoto Imperial Palace

Kyoto Imperial Palace (Kyoto Gosho) used to be the residence of Japan's Imperial Family until 1868, when the emperor and capital were moved from Kyoto to Tokyo. It is located in the spacious Kyoto Imperial Park.
The palace burnt down and was moved around the city several times over the centuries. The present reconstruction dates from 1855. The palace complex is enclosed by a long wall and consists of several gates, halls and gardens. The enthronement ceremonies of Emperors Taisho and Showa were still held in the palace's main hall, but the present Emperor's ceremony took place at the Tokyo Imperial Palace.
The palace can be visited only on guided tours held by the Imperial Household Agency. In order to join a tour, you need to apply for permission in advance with your passport at the agency's office in the Kyoto Imperial Park. Reservations over the internet are also possible.
English tours are currently held twice a day on weekdays and on some Saturdays. No tours are held on Sundays and national holidays. Check with the agency for an up to date schedule. 

Nijo Jinya

Nijo Jinya is a former inn used by feudal lords (daimyo) who were visiting Kyoto during the Edo Period. In order to guarantee the safety of the important guests, the building has been equipped with secret pathways, trap doors, hidden escape routes and various other security gadgets.
Tours of the intriguing house are held in Japanese only. If you do not understand Japanese, you are asked to bring a Japanese speaking friend or guide for your own and the owner's interest. 

(Pontocho / Day time)
(Pontocho / Night time)

Pontocho is one of Kyoto's traditional nightlife districts where you might be able to spot a geisha apprentice at night. It is a narrow street running from Shijo-dori to Sanjo-dori, one block west of the Kamo River.
In the evenings, the narrow street offers a great atmosphere and lots of restaurants and teahouses, ranging from inexpensive yakitori stores to highly exclusive establishments which require the right connections and a fat wallet.
Business hours and closing days of restaurants, bars and shops along Pontocho vary by establishment. Restaurants are typically open from around 17:00 to around 23:00. Some also open for lunch. 

Nishiki Market

Nishiki Market is a narrow, shopping street, lined by more than one hundred shops. Various kinds of fresh and processed foods including many Kyoto specialties, such as pickles, Japanese sweets, dried food, sushi, and fresh seafood and vegetables are sold.
Known as "Kyoto's Kitchen", Nishiki Market has a history of several centuries, and many stores have been operated by the same families for generations.
http://www.concierge.com/images/destinations/destinationguide/asia/japan/kyoto/kyoto_022p.jpg http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRjOCC-ZSlYC5oci-dvGBFXbsIesQFTu_WNXVSaV7rXShVy4aCB

By TS on Apr 13, 2011
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Author:T. SATOH