TRAVEL JAPAN – Katsura Imperial Villa

06 Dec

My second day in Japan found me at the Imperial Villa. You have to have permission to go there. I appreciate that Esprit Travel and Tours got that for me.

You also need to be there and waiting at 9 AM or you are out of luck.

I arrived early and was admiring the beautiful grounds when it started raining. A very stylishly dressed Japanese woman didn’t hesitate to come over and hold her umbrella over me. I felt very touched by this gesture.

I showed her I had my handy dandy plastic garbage bag, raincoat with me.

They counted us as we entered the gate and counted us again when we went out on the tour and when we came back.

The Imperial Villa was built in the 1600’s for the Imperial family. Besides a residence for them, it has gardens and tea houses.

A path winds around the property that has been thoughtfully designed. The tree at the end of this path has been purposefully placed there to prevent you from seeing the lake and gardens beyond until later.

A stand of bamboo.


This garden spot is planted at a waiting area for guests so they can enjoy it.


A lake was sculpted out and the excess earth was mounded up so this tea house has views of the mountains and water.


This river rock makes you feel like you are at a river bed.


Tea houses have a small opening so you can humble yourself and swords do not fit.


A lovely garden view is framed by the opening.


There are many stone lanterns, all different.


The area for heating water in one tea house.


This tea house celebrates the industry of farming and keeps the fields as the view.


This field, near the royal family's residence, was used for archery. The trees were planted to keep the archers spaced or maybe it was to see how far the arrows went.

This center post is noted for it’s grace and effortless beauty.

This tea house has a water view out the right window and a mountain view out the left. It is set for viewing the moon as it rises over the water and reflects off it.

What other architectural examples, that use nature to their advantage, do you know of?

© 2010 Jeanne Litt, All rights reserved.


Posted by on December 6, 2010 in Abundance, garden, Japan


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5 responses to “TRAVEL JAPAN – Katsura Imperial Villa

  1. Petty Witter

    December 7, 2010 at 6:11 am

    how beautiful, truly magnificent. This seems well worth the effort of having to gain permission to visit. I wonder how they allocate who gets to visit, I’m guessing they do ths to keep numbers down.

    • purplume

      December 9, 2010 at 10:55 am

      I think the Imperial Villa goes by available space and limits the numbers. I had to show my passport so maybe they also would screen people that way too. I think the Imperial family stays at the residence sometimes so maybe they don’t allow any visitors at that time. The tour doesn’t include the residence. Esprit tours told me if I missed my opportunity I would have to go to the Imperial Family household office and be limited by what availability was left, which might be none during this busy tourist time.

  2. Jen C.

    December 8, 2010 at 2:42 am

    I went there for a school excursion once too. Isn’t it just one of the most magnificent places you’ve ever seen? I just love how tranquil it is and how there is no such thing as a bad view. It’s one of the most serene locations I’ve been too since moving here. It’s no wonder the Imperial family limits the number of visitors that visits there. I don’t think the place can be as peaceful if anyone can go in. I’m glad you got to enjoy that place…even in the rain 🙂

  3. joann Mannix

    December 8, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Japanese Gardens are the most wondrous things. And that Imperial Villa is exceptional. I love that visitors are limited. I have many a time ruined by pushing and shoving tourists. Thanks for sharing. It really is a thing of beauty.

    And I love your snow falling!

  4. Holly

    December 18, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! My feeds are not working for your blog and I had missed out on all these posts. How wonderful that your travel agent was able to get your permission to visit these gardens.


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