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Published: March 12th 2013
My friend has written a review of Kyoto Imperial Palace after her visit. I want to publish it here because what she describes is typical for many Japanese tourist sites:
In general that excursion made very bad impression on me. It showed deep emptiness and backwardness of Japan nowadays. About the site:
1. The site can be visited only with a guided group. So you will be herded and treated as a baby. All tour takes 1 hour. You can't walk and look around with your own speed.
2. If you want to enroll into that group you must show your passport. They said it's for security reason. When I asked them how it helps to protect the site or visitors they were not able to tell me anything reasonable. They just told over and over again that it's for security reasons.
3. When finally you get to inner yard you discover that you are not allowed to come inside palaces and surrounding building! All of them are enclosed by a fence and all that you can do is just to stay not closer than 5 meters to buildings' walls. There is no even a small path which could allow you to come inside and to have a look. I visited dozens of palaces in different countries and all of them are open to people. If you'll come to tzar's palace in St.Petersburg or Royal palace in Kathmandu you will be able to see almost every room in the palace, you'll see hundreds of details of interior, you'll form an opinion about the way of life in that place, etc. But not here.
4. During you tour you should be ready to hear lot of superstitions, fairy-tales and other fiction without any analysis from your guide. All that stuff mixed with historic facts and events in a weird proportion. I was shocked when I heard all that medieval stuff like it's an ordinary thing and like it is equal to historic facts. Guide told us about magic emperor's mirror which mustn’t be photographed coz that process could steal it's sorcery! She told it in 21 century! People flew to the Moon, operate Large Hadron Collider and she talks to people about magic mirrors. And it's not only her beliefs. Government hid that mirror, they even erected special building for it and they prohibited any public access to it. It's so ridiculous. (and by the way, what kind of magic it
is if it vanishes only because of taking photos?)
5. Even gardens are enclosed from visitors. You can just stay near them and take photos.
6. Everything (exept gardens) looks extremely dull and boring. Vast spaces of courtyards just covered with gravel. No imagination, no design, no any impressive elements.
In my opinion, Japanese government put as much obstacles as possible to prevent access to that historic site. It looks like something forced them to make that place public, but they realy resist to that state of affairs.
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