Aug. 21, 2020 UPDATE
Shugaku-in Imperial Villa- 修学院離宮 -
Advance reservation is required. Websites have English page so that you can book from your country. Taking pictures inside is allowed.
Japanese, English, French, and Chinese
Japanese, some English
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Shugaku-in Imperial Villa is a retreat with a garden fit for the royal family
The Shugaku-in Imperial Villa is a mountain retreat for the royal family on a 545,000 square meter area. It was built in only two years from 1653 to 1655 by the order of the Emperor Go-Mizunoo. There are three gardens connected by paths lined with pine trees. The gardens are named lower villa, middle villa, and upper villa respectively, and each offer a unique scenery. The best view is from the upper villa near Yokuryu Pond, the harmony between the pond and the mountains behind it is sure to fascinate you. The design of the buildings of the site is also glorious. You can only visit the villa on a guided tour that takes about an hour. They can provide you with a free English audio guide. Feel the aesthetic beauty of Kyoto at the Shugaku-in Imperial Villa.
Yokuryu Pond / Upper Villa
This is Yokuryu pond viewed from the upper villa, the highest location of the site at 149 meters. It is said the pond was designed to look like a dragon swimming. The trees reflected on the surface make the pond even more beautiful, and it all comes together with the mountains in the background making the scene jaw-dropping.
Inside Kyakuden hall/ Middle Villa
A gorgeous reception hall for welcoming visitors that is sure to charm you. On the lower part of the drawers in the middle of the room is a picture of a pine tree painted using the yuzen dying method, while the walls and sliding doors are decorated using gold leaf making for a resplendent atmosphere. This is the only place connected with the imperial family in Kyoto where the reception hall is open for public.
Look at the great view from Kyusui-tei / Upper Villa
This is the only structure that still has its original appearance. It was built only for the purpose of enjoying the scenery, and people read poems while gazing at the garden or the moon. You can feel a sense of aesthetic beauty in the way people used nature in the pastime.
Walk alongside Nishihama Shore
It is said Emperor Go-Mizunoo rowed a boat on the west side of the Yokuryu Pond. The pond was made to be best viewed by walking round it, so the scenes change as you walk. The sight of the realms of water and sky split in two is something one would like to admire forever.
- Manner & Tips -
Since it is a guided tour, do not pass the guide or go to places by yourself. The tour is three kilometers long so take your walking shoes!