Shugakuin Imperial Villa (修学院離宮)

Shugakuin Imperial Villa is a detached Palace within the Imperial Household Agency's jurisdiction, and it is located at the foot of Mt. Hiei in Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City. It was built in the middle of 17th century (1653 - 1655) under the orders of the Emperor Gomizunoo. It is equaled by Katsura Imperial Villa, Sento Imperial Palace and shows the achievement of court culture and aesthetics.

Shugakuin Imperial Villa consists of three gardens called Kami no O-chaya, Naka no O-chaya, Shimo no O-chaya, and it is 540.000 square meters in area. There are fields spread amongst each garden, and they are connected with narrow roads lined with pine trees. Kami no O-chaya, Shimo no O-chaya are Imperial Villas which were built between 1655 to 1659 by the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) under orders of the Retired Emperor Gomizunoo (the hundred and eighth Emperor). It is said that the Retired Emperor Gomizunoo visited the Imperial Villa when it was under construction, disguising himself as a maid and got onto a palanquin, to direct it's construction, but this is not confirmed as to whether it is a true story or not.

Kami no O-chaya, Shimo no O-chaya came under the Imperial Household Agency's jurisdiction in 1884. However, Naka no O-chaya was built as an Imperial Palace for the Retired Emperor Gomizunoo's Imperial princess around same time, and it was incorporated into Shugakuin Imperial Villa in 1885. After World War, the Shugakuin Imperial Villa, like the Kyoto Imperial Palace, and the Katsura Imperial Villa, were all designated as Imperial Asset (owned by nation), and are under the Imperial Household Agency's control. To visit, it is necessary to obtain permission from the Imperial Household Agency's Kyoto office by mail or direct application or through an internet application beforehand. Also, visitors under eighteen years of age, are not allowed to visit the Villa.

Shimo no O-chaya
This is an ornamental pond style garden and it has a simple building roofed with shingles, there is no gate or fence. The black ink paintings on the fusuma are not from the Retired Emperor Gomizunoo era, but they were painted by painters from the late Edo period, Ganku and Toyohiko OKAMOTO. The Steppingstones in the front garden of Jugetsukan and the Sodeishi lantern which stands in the garden are also famous.

Naka no O-chaya
It was originally built as Akenomiya Palace, completed in 1668, and this was built for the Retired Emperor Gomizunoo's eighth Princess, Imperial Princess Teruko (Mitsuko). After the death of the Retired Emperor Gomizunoo, Akenomiya Palace was changed into a temple called Rinkyu-ji Temple. In 1885, about a half of the precincts of the Rinkyu-ji temple which included Rakushiken and a guest hall were returned to the Department of the Imperial Household and became a part of the Shugakuin Imperial Villa. Furthermore, the Rinkyu-ji Temple is still retained as a convent whose chief nun is an Imperial Princess. Rakushiken is a part of the Akenomiya Palace which is described earlier and was built around 1668. The guest hall of the Shoin zukuri (a traditional Japanese style of residential architecture that includes a tokonoma) was a reconstruction of 奥対面所 of Nyoin Palace (the palace for court ladies who received In title or equivalent) in Tofukumon in (Emperor Gomizunoo's court lady, Tokugawa second Shogun, Hidetada's daughter) which was constructed in 1677. The Kasumi dana of the Ichinoma in the guest hall is known as one of the Tenka Sandama (Unrivaled three shelves) together with Katsura Dana of the Katsura Imperial Villa, Daigo Dana of the Daigo-ji Temple Sanboin.

Kami no O-chaya
This is a magnificent garden which has a massive artificial Yokuryu-chi Pond and Okarikomi (many trees are individually planted with the top parts of the trees cut into one shape as a whole to create special look of the background or main part of the garden) as the main feature.

Rin un-tei Pavilion stands at the highest place in the Imperial Villa after climbing up the stone steps from Miyuki-mon Gate. Once climbing up here, the view suddenly opens up, there is Yokuryu-chi Pond below and a magnificent view of the surrounding mountains spreads in the distance. The Rin un-tei Pavilion was rebuilt in 1824 for the purpose of observation, and is a simple building with hardly any decorations and there is also no alcove or shelving. The inside consists three rooms; a 6 mat room Ichi no ma, 3 mat room Ni no ma and a 6 mat room.
The (external) corridor with a boarded floor running north east of the Ichi no ma is called 'Senshidai.'
A hard-packed concrete floor under the eaves is packed with red and black pebbles, and in the Yokuryu-chi Pond which is called 'Hifumi ishi' (one-two-three stone) there are three Islands called; Nakano-shima Island, Banshou, Mihoga-shima Island and three bridges called; Do-bashi Bridge, Kaede-bashi Bridge, and a Chinese style Chitose-bashi Bridge are built across connecting them.
Kyusui-tei Pavilion stands on Nakano-shima
In the Shugakuin Imperial Villa, the Kyusui-tei Pavilion is the only building which has remained since it was built, it is Sangen shiho (5.5 m square), roofed with shingles and Hogyo-zukuri. Inside is one room of eighteen mats.


The Kyoto City Bus fifteen minutes' walk from Shugakuin rikyu michi
Eizan Electric Railway Eizan Line twenty minutes' walk from Shugakuin Station

[Original Japanese]