Our last full day started with me panicking at the thought of missing the Kyoto Imperial Palace Tour. Before you can visit any of the Imperial Palaces in Japan, you will need a permit. There are no fees for the permit but you will need it when you arrive. I applied for the permit online and I have to say, I have never seen an application requesting for your full name, age, home country address, citizenship and professions. O.o It only took a few days for me to receive the permit after submitting it. On the permit, it listed the number of visitors (including gender) and it mentioned that passport or identification was required. But I was the only one who needed to show my passport because I was the one who applied for the permit. It also mentioned that visitors are expected to be at the entrance 20 minutes before the tour to check it. We barely made it in time for the check-in.
After checking in, visitors were led to a room where we could store our bags in the coin operated lockers. The tour was guided but it felt very disorganized because the group was quite large, I think about 50+ and we could barely hear the tour guide. We were pretty much restricted to a small area of the palace and in the end, I didn’t really enjoy myself.
After the tour, Kathy and myself went to over to the Nishijin Tondaya for Machiya Townhouse Tour, Kimono Dressing and Tea Ceremony. The tour duration was 1 hour and it cost ￥7350 (about $67USD). They do have somewhat of a strict cancellation policy. There is no cancellation charge if you cancel your reservation 2 days prior. However, you will incur a 50% fee (of your reservation type) if you cancel the day before and 100% on the scheduled day. Please also remember that they require you to wear socks. Ladies, no pantyhose. They are pretty strict with this rule. If you don’t have any, you can also purchase a pair there (I don’t know how much it would cost, so do yourself a favor and bring your own). And one more important note, THEY ARE CASH ONLY! so please leave your credit cards at home or in this case, your hotel or you can just keep it in your wallet and not take it out. 😛
We barely made it in time for our reservation, we sorta got lost on the way. The house was very traditional and very charming. We would welcomed into the house and we were asked to wait for another couple who would be joining us. We were asked to pick out our kimonos, there were so many selections that I almost couldn’t choose.
After our tour, we met up with Tommy once again and we went to the Shin Kyogoku and Teramachi Shopping Arcades and the Nishiki Market for some shopping and food. Lots of shops for foods and shopping 😛 .
Our last full day in Kyoto was quite productive despite us getting lost in the subway for over an hour… all in all, I spent ￥15,980 (about $150USD).