We only stayed in Kyoto one night during cherry blossom season 2008. Found it difficult to really enjoy the places we visited due to the impossible crowds and congested public transport system. Though the exception would be Nijo Jinya, which was the highlight of our short stay.
So many things to enjoy especially the small group of 20 people and the peacefull environment. As the tour was only in Japenese we organized a guide which was easily done. Either google 'tour guide Kyoto' for a list of tour guide groups or enquire at Kyoto railway station Tourist Information centre. You need to book over the phone which the guide group can do for you. We booked 2 weeks before our arrival.
The large home and gardens have been in the same family for over 500 years and the descendents reside in the house. It was converted into a Inn so Damiyo could stay whilst visiting the Imperial Palace or Nijo Castle.
The hour long tour takes you through approx. 8 of the un-lived in rooms. The guide explains each rooms purpose pointing out the security measures like hidden staircases, escape hatches and the hidden, soundproof guard post. They also gave explanations of the tea ceremony room, Noh drama stage, nightingale floors and preventing fire damage which was all very interesting. They didn't seem to mind our guide explaining what had been said in English and were happy to answer questions through the guide. We took our 4 teenage children who enjoyed it very much though be aware they don't accept children under 16.
No photographs can be taken inside though they do sell black and white postcards. It's not far from Nijo Castle just a couple of blocks Sth-west. It's also marked on many tourists maps of Kyoto so not too hard to find.
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