The focus of this compound is not the opulent villas but the sumptuous gardens. The grounds are held to be one of the great masterpieces of gardening. The manicured trees, lawns, and flowers are especially lovely thanks to the neighboring rice fields and orchards.
The Upper and Lower villas were built in the 17th century by the Tokugawa family to entertain the Emperor; the Upper Villa provides nice views of northern Kyoto. The Middle Villa was added later as a palace home for Princess Bunke, daughter of Emperor Go-mizunoo. Permission is required to visit the villa, best obtained a few days in advance from the Imperial Household Agency. Although all guided tours are in Japanese, there are free English-language audio guides. From Kyoto Station, Bus 5 takes about an hour. Or you can ride 20 minutes north on a Keifuku Eizan Line train from the Demachi-Yanagi terminus, which is northeast of the intersection of Imadegawa-dori and the Kamogawa.
Yabusoe Shugaku-in, Kyōto, Japan