Kyoto Travel Guide

Kyoto Sights

Katsura Imperial Villa (Katsura Rikyu)

  • House/Mansion/Villa
  • Fodor's Choice

Published 12/20/2010

Fodor's Review

Considered the epitome of beauty, culture, landscape, and architecture, the Imperial Villa is highly regarded here and abroad. The landscape architect Enshu Kobori (1579–1647) employed aesthetic gardening concepts founded on shin-gyo-so (formal, semiformal, informal) principles that imbue every pathway with a special beauty. Kobori incorporated horticultural references to famous Japanese literature, including The Tale of Genji, and natural sites.

Built in the 17th century for Prince Toshihito, brother of Emperor Go-yozei, Katsura is in southwestern Kyoto near the western bank of the Katsura River. Bridges constructed from earth, stone, and wood connect five islets in the pond, some moss-covered, softened by the ages yet as fresh as rain.

The villa is fairly remote from other historical sites. Allow several hours for a visit, for which you must secure permission from the Imperial Household Agency in Kyoto, by filling out and submitting a form on the agency's website, or by assembling at 11 am at the site to gain admission if space allows.

Sight Information


Katsura Rikyu Shimizu-cho, Kyoto, Kyoto-fu, 605-8014, Japan



Sight Details:

  • Free

Published 12/20/2010


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