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One of Kyoto's best resources, the Tourist Information Center, is on the second floor of Kyoto Station. Heading away from of the tracks, take the escalator up one flight; the information desk is next to the entrance of Isetan Department Store. The office publishes pamphlets with descriptions of five self-guided walking tours, including maps. The tours range in length from about 40 to 80 minutes. The office is open daily 8:30 to 7, but closes the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. To get the lay of the land, newcomers should obtain an up-to-date bus map, a tourist map, and a copy of the free monthly Kyoto Visitor's Guide here.
Visitors require special permission from the Imperial Household Agency to visit three sights in Kyoto: Kyoto Imperial Palace, Katsura Rikyu, and Shugaku-in Imperial Villa. It's best to obtain permission at least a few days in advance, but the permission to visit the Imperial Palace can often be obtained for a same-day visit by stopping in at the agency's office, which is in the northwest corner of the Imperial Palace's park; you can also apply for permission on the agency's Web site.
Imperial Household Agency (3 Kyoto Gyoen-nai, Kamigyō-ku, Kyōto, 602-8611. 075/211–1215. sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/english/index.html.)
Kyoto Tourist Information Center (JR Kyoto Station, Karasuma-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, 600-8555. 075/343-6655.)
Kyoto Visitor's Guide. www.kyotoguide.com.
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