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“Must to see! Please book in advance.”

Shugakuin Imperial Villa
Ranked #45 of 1,135 things to do in Kyoto
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Created as an imperial summer retreat, the garden complex is a fine example of Japanese landscape design.
Reviewed June 8, 2013

3 Imperial villas are in separate place, in the middle of beautiful nature, mountains surrounding Kyoto city, rural landscape. You will see aesthetic sense of Japanese here. This villas are designed to use all season, you will enjoy them to see very much any season. Villas with snow, new green leaves, red Japanese maple … amazing.

Wearing walking shoes is strongly recommended since you will walk up to the hill. In order to visit, you need to book in advance via Internet, letter. Guide may not speak English, but you can use an audio player with multiple languages free.

Thank michi123456
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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65 - 69 of 314 reviews

Reviewed February 24, 2013

The villa is perched on the side of a hill, giving a grand view of both the hills behind and the city below. The gardens are to die for in the fall. Spectacular. As with Katsura, the guides moved you along too fast to linger and take time to take photographs, but otherwise completely enjoyable.

Thank donjphoto
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 13, 2013

After a long time of debating whether to go to this villa, which is somehow considered less famous than Katsura I went. Its superb. the garden itself, the view of the city, the fact that its located in a regular neighborhood and you wouldnt expect it there. I would say that its worth a visit for those who have a long time in Kyoto, around a week or more, because of both the hassle to get a reservations, and also despite the fact that its superb- there are other things perhaps more unique to see in Kyoto before this.

1  Thank Mish_H50
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 12, 2012

I lived in Japan over 40 years ago and was given a photo book on Shugakuin as a leaving present. I and my, Japanese, wife had never been to see it and so made the effort to attend the Imperial Household Agency Office (by the Imperial Palace) whilst on holiday, with passports in hand to get the necessary free permission. We booked for just a few days hence without fuss. Japanese residents themselves normally have to wait 3 months to get permision and for certain periods have to join a lottery system to enter: so my in-laws were quite envious.
The 80 minute tour was well run, but you were expected to keep up. The Japanese guide was friendly and I was given a helpful English audio guide and leaflet. We were followed though by a security man who I'm sure had me marked out as a terrorist! I kept getting funny looks as I lingered taking photos at each of the three sections. Each area was closed down and locked after we had passed.
Shugakuin is really three gardens, linked by pine-lined paths through paddy fields & farmland maintained by local farmers who lease the land. Though you can see Kyoto in the distance, you get the feeling of being 'away from it all' and in the country.
All three gardens are beautiful, but it is the upper villa & garden which are are really the main attraction with large lake, islands & bridges. I have to say they are not quite as well kept as some of the other large Japanese gardens we've visited, and the buildings themselves are not that impressive, but we were glad we made the effort to visit.
There is a drinks machine, a small souvenir shop and toilets at the waiting area. Some parts may be difficult to access for people with physical disabilites.

2  Thank Jeffrey F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 18, 2012

This imperial villa offers its best on the upper of the three levels. Scenic beauty at its best. Buildings are less impressive. Still, the better choice is the imperial villa at Katsura as a unique integration and perfection of gardens and buidlings.

Thank Robinyy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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