Kyoto Imperial Palace
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Kyoto Imperial Palace

In 794 C.E., the Emperor Kammu moved Japan’s capital to Kyoto, chiefly to keep the large Buddhist monasteries back in Nara from amassing even more power than they already had. The present structures date back to 1855, but it’s not the buildings that stand out—it’s the extremely beautiful garden, probably second only to that at Katsura Rikyu. Like at Katsura Rikyu, one needs permission to visit; the Imperial Household Agency (you can get permission for both the palace and Katsura at the same time) is just outside, and as a foreigner, you can get in easily, although you can never get out of sight of the tour guide. The palace is interesting for history, not so much for décor.

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