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Katsura Imperial Villa (桂離宮, Katsura Rikyū) is one of the finest examples of Japanese architecture and garden design. The villa and garden in their present form were completed in 1645 as the residence for the Katsura Family, members of Japan's Imperial Family.
Visiting Katsura Imperial Villa requires joining a tour. The tour follows the garden's circular walking trail around the central pond. Palace buildings can be viewed only from the outside, and photographing is allowed only from designated spots. Tours in English are available.
Katsura Rikyu is located in western Kyoto, a 15 minute walk from Katsura Station on the Hankyu Kyoto Line. Alternatively, you can reach the villa by Kyoto City Bus number 33 from Kyoto Station in about 20 minutes. Get off at "Katsura Rikyu-mae" bus stop. The bus ride costs 240 yen and is not fully covered by the Kyoto City Bus One Day Card.
information source: japan-guide.com
Tours of Katsura Imperial Villa are held multiple times per day, including some in English, except on Mondays (or the following day if Monday falls on a national holiday). They cost 1000 yen per person.
To book a tour, you need to apply in advance with your passport at the Imperial Household Agency's office in Kyoto Imperial Park (8:40 to 17:00, closed on Mondays, or next day if Monday falls on a national holiday). Alternatively, a small number of tour spots are available for reservation over the agency's website; however, these often get booked out. Online reservations must be completed several days before the intended visit.
In addition, a limited number of same-day tickets for some of the Japanese tours are distributed at the Katsura Imperial Villa from 8:40 on a first-come first-serve basis.