6-Person Japanese Gardens Tour
- The Golden Pavilion: The Zen Buddhist temple called Kinkaku-ji began as a shogun's private villa, and epitomizes lush garden design in the Muromachi period, when Japanese culture flourished under the influence of Zen Buddhism from the 1330s until 1573.
- Ryoanji Temple: This sacred site contains two Zen rock gardens – Karesansui Garden, a dry Zen gardens with a highly stylized landscape of gravel and rocks, and Ninna-ji, modeled on the Imperial style, with wet and dry features.
- More than a guide: Even by GoBe standards, your tour leader is special. Known officially as "docents" (from the Latin for teacher), these Ph.D. and M.A.-level experts provide fascinating insights into the history and philosophy underlying Kyoto's Zen Buddhist landscapes.
About This Kyoto Tour
Natural beauty combines with contemplation and tranquility on this tour, as you explore precisely landscaped miniature worlds that were first created by emperors and nobles during Japan's Muromachi period.
Our walk begins at the dazzling Golden Pavilion of Kinkaku-Ji, built in the 14th century as the home of a regional shogun and now a Zen Buddhist temple. It's the perfect setting for discussion of the era's water-oriented garden design as we analyze the purposeful arrangement of natural elements for reflection and entertainment.
We then head by motorcoach to Ryoanji Temple for two excellent examples of Zen rock gardens: Karesansui, a prototypical "dry" temple garden of stone, and Ninna-ji, our final destination, where we'll compare earlier landscape design with that of the later Muromachi period. The covered walkways of the Goten, a former residence of the head priest, feature painted sliding doors that mirror the surrounding landscape's rock and water features, tying together our discussion for a deeper understanding of how Japanese gardens reflect a wider philosophy and culture.
Please make your way to the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji) to meet your guide at the corner of Kurama-guchi Dori and Kagamiishi Dori, by the traffic lights. Please wait right at the corner. Do not go to the ticketing booth. You'll go into the park together.
Bring some local currency to pay for your admission to the temple directly.
In need of retail therapy after your tour? Your guide can advise you where to go in search of that "must have" souvenir to take home. Be sure to have some local currency and a backpack for all your great buys.
As in many cities, keep your wallet or purse secured and leave the bling behind.
Plan to walk for approximately 2 miles at a gentle pace. If your mobility is limited, this tour may be too challenging for you. This itinerary is not suitable for wheelchairs.
Walking Tour, Cultural, Scenic, Family Friendly
Public transportation may be used from time to time. Have local currency available for tickets. Your tour may involve walking only.
Ph.D. or MA-level scholar guide
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated moderate. Full participation may require extended periods of walking over even and uneven surfaces, steep terrain and/or water activity in a slight current. There may be steps, inclines, cobblestone surfaces, and extended periods of standing. Participants with physical limitations should take this into account.
Travelers must be 13 years of age and older to participate.
Walks are held rain or shine with some variations to accommodate the weather. If you are running late for your meeting with our guide, we ask that you call to alert us so that we can relay the message to the guide.
You cannot participate in this tour if you have not sent your passport number and name beforehand. Context walks can be cancelled up to 48 hours prior to the walk with an 85% refund. Within 48 hours all reservations are final and cannot be refunded. Walks are held rain or shine with some variations to accommodate the weather. If you are running late for your meeting with our guide, we ask that you call to alert us so that we can relay the message to the guide. No shows are treated as last-minute cancelations and are non-refundable. Cancellations within two business days need to be made directly with our local offices by calling them directly (or on the emergency number provided). Cancellations made via email or by calling our U.S. 800 number may not be honored.
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