Feeling the four seasons at the pond garden
Sento Imperial Palace which is situated at the east side of Kyoto Imperial Gardens was the former grounds for retired Emperors. The term “sento” referred to a man living in the mountains so Sento Imperial Palace has the meaning of the residence of such a person. A sento was a revered figure in China, so the residence was beautified and given that name. Located to the southeast of Kyoto Imperial Palace, the huge pond inside the grounds is the center of a garden. The South Pond is a highlight of the garden and when you go through the side door there, the North Pond is right in front of you. Linked to the canal connecting the two ponds is Momijibashi Bridge. Compared to the plain atmosphere brought about at the North Pond, the South Pond is very showy. There are many other features such as Yatsuhashi Bridge which bring out beautiful displays like the flowers of spring, the fresh greenery of summer and the foliage of autumn. Particularly lovely are the violet blossoms of wisteria draped over Yatsuhashi Bridge.
As with Kyoto Imperial Palace, prior reservations are necessary to enter Sento Imperial Palace. Please check the homepage of the Imperial Household Agency. Reservations can be made via Internet, mail or in person, and tours are handled by Japanese-language guides. English is provided via audio guides that are free to rent.
Tour Kyoto Imperial Palace and Kyoto Imperial Gardens
Prior reservations are required to visit Kyoto Imperial Palace, but you can walk inside the palace grounds for free without any restrictions when it is open to the public twice a year. Those two times are during the sakura-filled spring and the colorful autumn but it is good to check the schedule on the homepage. In addition, the public park of Kyoto Imperial Gardens with its lawns and plum groves is free to enter. Even if you cannot visit Kyoto Imperial Palace or Sento Imperial Palace, you can still get a taste of that profound atmosphere strolling through the grand Kyoto Imperial Gardens.