Fantastic Japanese Garden In Kyoto! Katsura Rikyu Imperial Villa

I took a tour to Katsura Rikyu Imperial Villa in Kyoto in the other day which has the world’s famous beautiful Japanese style garden!

Hi friends! As usual, I walk around Kyoto in the weekend.

In this time, I took a tour to Katsura Rikyu Imperial Villa in Kyoto City. The villa is administered by the Imperial Household Agency and the agency accepts visitors only by appointments.

About Katsura Rikyu Imperial Villa

What Is Katsura Rikyu Imperial Villa?

Katsura Rikyu Imperial Villa is used to be a detatched palace of the princes of Hachijo-nomiya family and is built in 17th century. The villa and its premise have never been on fire or other disaster since it has been buit, so this well-maintained villa has shown its original appearance.

Bruno Taut who is the architect in 19th-20th century and other world’s famous architects evaluated Katsura Rikyu Imperial Villa as the masterpiece of Japanese gardening.

The Japanese gardening specialty magazine in the United States; The Journal of Japanese Gardening nominated the villa as the second best Japanese gardens in Japan in 2015.

Get Appointment

As I mentioned above, the villa accepts visitors only by appointments. You can go online to make an appointment.

⇒The Imperial Household Agency

Flow How It Goes
  • On the first day in each month, the calender for visitors’ appointment will be shown on the website for the next three month
  • Choose the date and time you want to visit and apply
  • If you win the raffle, you’ll get an email in the next day or so
  • Visit with the verification

The villa is very popular site to tourists not only from home but abroad, so I was wondering if I would be able to visit on the day I desired...but I found the availability (guess it was my lucky day!) so I applied and got the email! Maybe it is because it is winter…? The website has more details, so please refer ;)

Visit Katsura Rikyu Imperial Villa!


They accept visitors 20 minutes before the appointed time. My appointment was at 13:30, so I went there around 13:10.

They need to see verification which you should have with you at the entrance, and they also ask you to show your photo ID as well. The couple behind me was like, “what, photo ID? Do we have them?” ...Please do not forget your photo ID!

I arrived there a bit early so I went to the gift shop to get some souvenir. Some of them are only available in Katsura Rikyu Imperial Villa! The picture below is a limited edition bookmarker!

10 minutes before the appointed time, I watched some video about the history and the background of the villa in the waiting room until 13:30.

Let’s Go To The Villa!

There were about 40 people including myself. The tour guide and the guard take us around together. You can take pictures in the villa. The guide speaks only Japanese, but for tourists from overseas, there is English audio guide available.

The Main Gate

I imagined the main gate would be super gorgeous...but it isn’t. Look at how simple it is. The Imperial Family visit the villa from this gate.

Goko-mon Gate


Many steppingstones are in the premise, so I recommend you to wear sneakers, not super fabulous heels!

Stone lanterns are in the premise. They make the villa look quint.


Walking on steppingstones and pathways, the gardens appear in front of me...♡

The guide told us that the aisles are designed not to show the gardens from there...and she is right! We don’t see the gardens from the aisle towards there. I am so happy when the garden comes up in front of me!


This building is called Shoukintei. This is built as a teahouse for winter season. I took some pictures on my way there...

I am a bit disappointed at the weather...wish it was sunny… :/

This is the inside of Shoukintei.

This is the view of the garden from the teahouse.

Another view of the inside of Shoukintei.

The teahouse is well maintained and aged. It has quint and retro-modern atmosphere...I am very surprised it is built over 400 years ago!

Once you leave the teahouse, you see other gardens and buildings.


This is called Onrindo. The building used to have the statue of Buddha, so it was treated as a temple. That makes sence that the building looks like a temple. The statue has been removed now though...


Shouiken is another teahouse in the villa. Let me show you pictures I took!

The lantern looks differend from the other ones...

From Shouiken, I can see Onrindo.

Walking by the library...

Waling Towards The Teahouse

The scenery of the way to the next teahouse looks so peaceful and beautiful...

Even though it is winter, the gardens don’t look dead because many of trees planted in the villa are ever-green trees such as pine trees.


Another beautiful and peaceful view from Gepparou.

They planted tall trees around the teahouse now, but breathtakingly beautiful moon had been seen at night from there. The reason why they planted the tall trees is that the skyscrapers are built in the city which may not suit with the view from the villa.


The tour took me about an hour and 10 minutes.

I thought it would be too long, but time flies so fast! Again, the villa and its premise are very well maintained, cleaned, and aged… They only accept visitors in limited numbers each day, so there’s no rush and we all find peace and relaxing time.

I would love to visit another locations which the Imperial Household Agency administers…:)

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Written by TABIZU

I love to go on a trip each season, to stroll markets for finding dainty foods, and to soak in a hot spring more than anything.