Katsura-rikyu, a world famous imperial villa featuring a simple but functional architectural style.
The Katsura district is located in the southwestern part of the city of Kyoto. Many old temples are dotted along the west bank of the gently winding Katsura-gawa River.
Katsura-rikyu Imperial Villa was built on the western side of the Katsura-gawa River in the early 17th century as a villa for the Imperial Family. It took 35 years to complete its construction. It has a 'shoin' (study room) consisting of three buildings in the 'sukiya-zukuri' style, the Ko-shoin, Chu-shoin and Shin-goten, a circuitous garden and tearoom. They still remain as they were when originally built.
Sukiya-zukuri houses originally meant those architectural structures specially built for tea ceremonies, but over time all architecture in this style and design has became known as sukiya-zukuri. The simple, yet functional beauty of the villa is well known internationally. You will need permission to visit the villa, and if you want to make a reservation from a foreign country you will need to call the office beforehand.
There are many shrines and temples in the Katsura-rikyu area. The god of sake (rice wine) brewing enshrined at Umenomiya-taisha and Matsuo-taisha shrines attracts many worshippers. Kegon-ji Temple is known for its 'suzumushi' or "bell crickets," insects that chirp all year round, and Saiho-ji Temple is famous for its garden covered with beautiful moss, spreading out like green velvet.
From Umeda (Osaka) :
[Rail] 34 min from Umeda (Osaka) to Katsura Station (Kyoto) by Hankyu Line (limited-stop express).
From Osaka :
[Rail] 28 min to Kyoto Station by JR Tokaido Line (new rapid service).
From Tokyo :
[Rail] 2h 15 min to Kyoto Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line (Nozomi), and 20 min from Kyoto to Katsura-rikyu by bus.
* It takes 2h 45 min from Tokyo to Kyoto by Hikari Shinkansen.