日本の文化財名所『修学院離宮』Japanese cultural property famous place “Shugakuin Imperial Villa”


There are many tourist attractions in Kyoto, but there are historical places that you can visit because they are modern. This time, I would like to introduce you while looking back on the time I went while I lived in Kyoto.

宮内庁管轄・参観名所 Imperial Household Agency jurisdiction / visiting spots


The Imperial Household Agency is an organization that is responsible for all the affairs of the imperial family and the duties of supporting His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, as stipulated by the law of the imperial family of Japan. There are various places in Japan that have been passed down historically. Among them, the land related to the imperial family is managed by the Imperial Household Agency, the Cabinet Office, or the administrative jurisdiction of the land.


Many of the facilities managed by the Cabinet Office require an admission fee. However, most of the places managed by the Imperial Household Agency are free of charge. Various activities are being carried out to make Japanese culture widely known. I don’t advertise it publicly so much, so I think it’s something that you can’t see unless you want to know it.


There are four places under the jurisdiction of the Imperial Household Agency in Kyoto because the capital was in Kyoto in the past. Tokyo is the Imperial Palace only.

  • 京都御所 Kyoto Imperial Palace
  • 京都仙洞御所 Kyoto Sento Imperial Palace
  • 桂離宮 Katsura Imperial Villa
  • 修学院離宮 Shugakuin Imperial Villa


This time, I would like to introduce you with some photos of when I went to “Shugakuin Imperial Villa”.

『修学院離宮』の歴史 History of “Shugakuin Imperial Villa”


Shugakuin Imperial Villa is a mountain lodge built in the Edo period by the magnificent concept of Emperor Gomizuo. (Completed in 1659)

年 Year歳 Age後水尾天皇の歴史 History of Emperor Gomizuo
15960後水尾天皇ご誕生 Birth of Emperor Gomizuo
161115後水尾天皇御即位 Emperor Gomizuo’s coronation
162933後水尾天皇 退位 上皇となられる
Emperor Gomizuo abdicated and became emeritus
Emperor Gomizuo decided to place Shugakuin Village in Kyoto as a mountain lodge.
165963修学院離宮 完成
Shugakuin Imperial Villa completed


It is said that Emperor Gomizuo finally started the construction 15 years (60 years old) after he envisioned the construction of the mountain lodge. After that, it took 3 years to complete. During the construction, he made a model of every detail such as vegetation and stepping stones, and considered the shape and arrangement.


After completion, he went to Shugakuin Imperial Villa more than 70 times until he was demise at the age of 85.


“Shugakuin Imperial Villa” is an important place filled with the enthusiasm of Emperor Gomizuo, the emperor of the Edo period. In addition, the vast site, the space that blends with the natural landscape, and the composition of the garden are considered to be wonderful cultural assets that condense Japanese values for nature and unique culture. It can be said that it is a place where you can go to see it because it is the present age.

参観の申し込み Application for visit


I went there a long time ago(2016), but I think it’s almost the same because the current website of the Imperial Household Agency hasn’t changed at all.


I applied for Shugakuin Imperial Villa online from the homepage. You can make a reservation up to 3 months in advance. I think it’s too late to book a few weeks in advance. Normally, I think that you can make a reservation about 1 to 2 months in advance.


However, the autumn leaves season and the cherry blossom season are very popular, and I think it is a battle for competition when the city of Kyoto is crowded. Normally, reservations can be made up to 3 months in advance on the homepage, so it seems that reservations will be filled all at once according to the start time when the reservation can be made. It seems that there are occasional cancellations and reservations can be made by chance, but there are many cases where there is only one person or there is a limit on the number of people. Especially during the autumn leaves season, it is also famous for not being able to make reservations.


And this reservation, of course, seems to be on a first-come, first-served basis, but it seems that foreign tourists are basically given priority. Based on the idea that you come to Japan only then, you will be given priority to get it, so if you are a foreigner, please contact the Imperial Household Agency office.


Also, it is especially easy to make online reservations, so reservations will fill up quickly. It seems that the number of people in the mail and the counter is different, so even if there are many reservations online, you may be able to make a reservation by mail and the counter.


I couldn’t make a reservation for “Katsura Imperial Villa” because it was full of internet, so I went to the window of the Imperial Household Agency Kyoto Office. Then, the reservation at the counter was filled up, so I was told at the counter that the reservation frame for mailing might be open, so please apply for mailing. And when I applied for mail, I was able to make a reservation safely.


Also, even if everything is not good, there is a frame on the day, so if you can not make a reservation, please do not give up and try it. Please note that in most cases of same-day application, there will be free time between the application reception time and the visit time.


Although it takes time to make such a reservation, the visit itself is free of charge.


In addition, it seems that it is also possible to provide visit guidance in foreign languages such as English.

実際の参観 Actual visit


If you go to the entrance during the visit time, you will be asked to confirm your application, identity, and baggage at the entrance.


If you have time, there is a place to wait inside.


Basically, a guide will be attached, so you cannot visit the site as if you were walking around freely. There is also a guide behind you to always check the number of people. And basically you can’t rest and wait because you’re tired. Follow the lead and guide from the front and follow. After confirming that all the guides behind you have gone, the guides will also lock the doors in order.


It is said that the vast site is divided into upper, middle and lower parts from the hillside to the foot of the mountain, and each has an independent teahouse. It seems that a dramatic space is created by arranging it with varying heights while giving it a lateral spread. The magnificent and open molding is said to be outstanding in the mountain lodge architecture.


I listened carefully to the guidance and explanations of the guide, so I enjoyed the space without taking too much time to take pictures. The number of photos is small, but I will post them.


While receiving the explanation, I followed the guidance and went up like a light mountain climb.


At the time of the tour, you can basically look inside the building because you cannot enter it. The building named “Jyugetukan” in the photo is said to have been the throne (living room) of Emperor Gomizuo. There are many rooms, and it seems that it is easy to live in. The building at the time of its construction was lost due to the fire and was reconstructed. However, the reconstruction period is also during the Edo period (1818-1830 during the Bunsei period), so it is a valuable building.


The characters “Kanjutsukikan” on the building(tablet) are said to be written by Emperor Gomizuo.This is also valuable, as I don’t have a chance to see the characters written by His Majesty the Emperor.


I couldn’t take a closer look at it because it was too far away, but the shelves in the back have “crane” and “orchid” drawn on it. This painting is a work of “Hara Zaichū”, a painter from Kyoto during the Edo period.


Fusuma also has an ink painting. This is also said to have been made by Ganku, a painter who represents Kyoto in the Edo period.


Above the fusuma, there is a fretwork column. At first glance, it looks calm rather than gorgeous, but there are some parts that cannot be overlooked, such as those drawn by a painter representing the Edo period.


The gate that can be seen on the way is made of bamboo and tree. The stuffed bamboo was beautiful because it was straight but symmetrically aligned. You can get a glimpse of the craftsmanship of the time.


I went there in March, when the flowers weren’t in full bloom, but the pine trees that were planted were well-maintained and lined up neatly, which was beautiful. I went up the gravel road with beautiful pine trees on both sides, and although it was a gentle slope, I was quite tired. Shoes that are easy to walk, such as sneakers, are definitely recommended.


As you climb, you will pass through the beautiful gate again and you will be able to see the guest hall next time. Perhaps because it is the gate of the guest hall, this bamboo gate was also beautiful.


The guest hall is a building located at the Nyoin(for women) Imperial Palace of Tofukumonin, the empress of Emperor Gomizuo. The building is said to have been relocated after the death of Tofukumonin. The inside is gorgeous and you can see the femininity.


The fusuma painter is said to have been painted by Hidenobu Kano, a younger brother of Eitoku Kano, who was a painter of the Kano school in the Edo period. Even from a distance, the luxury of gold leaf and gold sunago was conveyed.




What I could see relatively close was the Sugito painting with a picture of a parent and child carp. The artist is said to be Hidenobu Kano.

It is said that there is a legend that this carp drew a golden net later because it goes through Sugito and plays in the pond every night at night. It’s a funny story that treats carp as if it were alive.

The paintings inside the building created a sophisticated space that blended into the aristocratic life.


It was a beautiful and refreshing space where the garden was healed by greenery. I walked upward from this guesthouse, but I climbed a light mountain on a road with a much higher elevation difference than the previous pine road.


After being a little tired, the best view awaited. I went up the stone steps and opened my view all at once. This also shows the skill of Emperor Gomizuo in building this mountain cottage. It is built to stand at a high altitude of 149 m above sea level.


This view was truly a natural beauty landscape with no modern urban buildings. The space of the mountain lodge integrated with nature was wonderful, and it was a moment when I realized that it was good to see it. It may still be the same as the scenery seen by His Majesty the Emperor and aristocrats during the Edo period.


It is said that small red and black Kamogawa stones called ”1 2 3 stones”(Hifumi-ishi) are embedded in the floor of the upper teahouse “Rinuntei” with a view. The place was set up for a landscape view, so it seems that all the extra decorations have been removed. This “Hifumi-ishi” was so lovely.


After enjoying the scenery, go down to the pond, pass the small pavilion on the way, and go through the pine road that you went to to finish the visit.


I think it took about an hour or more to walk around while receiving an explanation of the vast site. If you are planning other sightseeing, we recommend that you plan with plenty of time. Also, you will get tired because you will walk around the roads and stone steps with different heights. Please do not overdo it.


Postcards and one-stroke notes to commemorate the visit are sold at a small shop in the Shugakuin Imperial Villa. I like this one-stroke paper very much. It seemed to be especially beautiful during the cherry blossom and autumn leaves season, and it was also a postcard.


If you are interested, please visit Shugakuin Imperial Villa.



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