Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto: Traditional Yet Enthralling

Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto: Traditional Yet Enthralling

In the western suburbs of Kyoto, lies a villa with associated gardens and outbuildings. It is called Katsura Imperial Villa and is regarded as an important large-scale cultural treasure in Japan.

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It is a perfect example of the essence of traditional Japanese designs.

The History

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Katsura is a district in Kyoto and it has long been favored for beautiful villas. Fujiwara no Michinaga, the representation of Fujiwara clan’s highpoint control over the government, owned a villa in the area. Many people found it to be an elegant location for viewing the moon. The founder of Katsura Imperial Villa is Prince Hachijo Toshihito. He was a court noble of Japan during the Sengoku period. He was incredibly fond of noble works coming from the passages of the Tales of Genji, the Poems of Past and Present and the works of Po Chu-i that he constructed the villa based on some passages.

Relation to Religion

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Katsura Imperial Villa combines principles used in Shintoism and Buddhism. Clearly seen on its tatami flooring is the realization of traditional Japanese ideas. Floors are raised with tatami-mat covering on them. The porches and terraces have been arranged to provide a good view of the landscape. The villa also uses screen walls known as “shoji” and “fusuma.” These are used to separate the spaces created by the tatami mat into the different rooms in the house.

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Another perfect example of Zen Buddhism influence are the tea houses. These were constructed to exude the qualities of reverence, concord, pureness and isolation which are very important during the tea ceremony.

How to Get There?

The place is just 15 minutes walk from the Katsura Station on the Hankyu Kyoto Line. Another route is to take the Kyoto City Bus No. 33 from Kyoto Station which takes around 20 minutes. Get off at “Katsura Rikyu-mae” bus stop. The bus fee costs 240 yen. Remember though that this is not covered by the Kyoto City Bus One Day Card.

The Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto will truly exceed your expectation when it comes to spatial harmony among designs. You can join the free tours being held several times daily! It is best to always check with the agency for a better up-to-date schedule.

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