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How to visit Katsura Imperial Villa?

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Old Aug 12, 14, 11:41 pm
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How to visit Katsura Imperial Villa?

I can't believe that I didn't consider making an appointment sooner; I hadn't realized that it was not readily open to the public or that it might potentially get fully booked so far in advance. I just checked the website and it shows that ALL available days and time slots for November are 100% booked. I could kick myself for this, I am beyond disappointed. I can't imagine leaving Kyoto without a visit. Is there any possible way to get an appointment if the website calendar shows that they are already booked through November? I've written to my hotel in Kyoto but I wanted to seek advice here as well. I'm truly heartsick over not planning this sooner. Who would have guessed it would book 4 months in advance though... is there still a way that we could visit somehow?
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Old Aug 12, 14, 11:43 pm
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Also, for the sake of learning from my mistake... are there any other significant sights in Kyoto that you would recommend I make an appointment to visit ASAP for fear of the same outcome?
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Old Aug 13, 14, 9:18 am
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Originally Posted by OliverB View Post
I can't believe that I didn't consider making an appointment sooner; I hadn't realized that it was not readily open to the public or that it might potentially get fully booked so far in advance. I just checked the website and it shows that ALL available days and time slots for November are 100% booked. I could kick myself for this, I am beyond disappointed. I can't imagine leaving Kyoto without a visit. Is there any possible way to get an appointment if the website calendar shows that they are already booked through November? I've written to my hotel in Kyoto but I wanted to seek advice here as well. I'm truly heartsick over not planning this sooner. Who would have guessed it would book 4 months in advance though... is there still a way that we could visit somehow?
As I understand it, not all spaces are available for the advance internet booking. Visit the Imperial Household agency when in Kyoto in person to see if there are any spaces. You'll need your foreign passport (which you should be carrying with you anyway) to book and I think this is non-Japanese only. It's also worth to keep looking at the website for later November as places are only supposed to be release 3 months' in advance.
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Old Aug 14, 14, 8:48 am
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Originally Posted by OliverB View Post
Also, for the sake of learning from my mistake... are there any other significant sights in Kyoto that you would recommend I make an appointment to visit ASAP for fear of the same outcome?
There are a couple of other imperial villas worth seeing that also require reservations. But they are generally booked as quickly as Katsura unfortunately. Also Saihoji (or Kokedera), a temple very famous for its moss garden requires reservations. But they are usually available even with relatively short notice.
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Old Aug 14, 14, 10:13 am
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Thanks guys, I'm really bummed about Katsura... the concierge at the Hyatt Regency Kyoto took our passport details and went to the agency this morning (or yesterday - not sure with the time difference) and wrote back to say that unfortunately it's fully booked. They made an appointment at Shugakuin instead, but Katsura was the one that I *really* wanted to visit. I wish I had known to plan this months in advance. I've informed them about the moss temple as well and they're coordinating that for us now. I wonder if it's worth showing up at the agency one day while we're in town and just being really polite and asking if we can join a tour for Katsura?
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Old Aug 14, 14, 10:53 am
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most also forget to book this one...

and i forgot to book the JAL and ANA hanger tours at HND which are also booked well in advance.

do not despair i say to myself. i will be back.

http://matiasstella.com/japan/saiho-ji

although i keep forgetting to following the booking instructions for this each time.
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Old Aug 14, 14, 10:54 am
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Originally Posted by CPH-Flyer View Post
...Also Saihoji (or Kokedera), a temple very famous for its moss garden requires reservations. ..
you beat me to this...
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Old Aug 14, 14, 7:04 pm
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Originally Posted by OliverB View Post
I wonder if it's worth showing up at the agency one day while we're in town and just being really polite and asking if we can join a tour for Katsura?
I would not expect the imperial household agency office to show any flexibility on the rules. You can check if there are.cancellations along the way.
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Old Aug 14, 14, 8:40 pm
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You can always try again in person when you arrive in Kyoto. I have done the Katsura tour 3-4 times, and being shepherded through really ruins the experience and is always a let down from what you read about in books. Shugaku-in is a nice experience, and Manshu-in, which is close by and does not require reservations, is a nice proxy for Katsura's architecture (which is not part of the tour anyways).
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Old Aug 15, 14, 12:16 am
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Originally Posted by Parrotfish View Post
I have done the Katsura tour 3-4 times, and being shepherded through really ruins the experience and is always a let down from what you read about in books.
I kind of like the tour aspect of the thing, as it restricts access, and wherever you are, as you look out to the property, you see nobody else as the only other people visiting are right beside you. Great for photo-taking without pesky tourists.
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Old Aug 15, 14, 12:57 am
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Originally Posted by Pickles View Post
I kind of like the tour aspect of the thing, as it restricts access, and wherever you are, as you look out to the property, you see nobody else as the only other people visiting are right beside you. Great for photo-taking without pesky tourists.
Have they relaxed the rules? There used to be a no photography rule at Katsura. Though my visits are quite a few years back now. There never seemed to be a good reason for the rule.

Edit:
I was just looking to see re the photo rules, nothing is mentioned on the homepage. And I also noticed that there were 3 spots open on the 21st of November, so dates do open again, so it may.be worth keeping an eye on the homepage.

Last edited by CPH-Flyer; Aug 15, 14 at 1:03 am
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Old Aug 15, 14, 10:30 am
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Originally Posted by CPH-Flyer View Post
Have they relaxed the rules? There used to be a no photography rule at Katsura. Though my visits are quite a few years back now. There never seemed to be a good reason for the rule.
There were no constraints on photo taking the times I've been there. You cannot use a tripod, and they're very peculiar about that, but otherwise, photograph away.
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Old Aug 15, 14, 12:53 pm
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Thanks everyone!

Unfortunately we only have Nov. 15 - 19 (really 18th since we should leave early on the 19th to spend the day in Nara) so I'll keep an eye out for cancellations but it's a drag that I didn't plan this earlier. Re. photography, I would assume it's allowed judging by the many Google Images and photo blogs I've seen. I'll take your advice and try in person if we can't secure them online. The thing is, our concierge went in person (how great is service in Japanese hotels?!?) with our passport numbers and personal info and was unable to secure anything. I've actually read that Shugakuin is more interesting and many enjoy it more, especially for koyo viewing. I was still really set on Katsura though... oh well. Hopefully we'll be able to squeeze in a last minute appointment while in Kyoto.
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Old Aug 18, 14, 9:03 am
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So JTB can get us in for JPY 1500 / person.
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Old Aug 18, 14, 9:10 am
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Originally Posted by OliverB View Post
So JTB can get us in for JPY 1500 / person.
that is a no brainier then. good to know JTB has connections and/or slots held back.
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