Kyōto Gosho (Kyoto Imperial Palace)  (京都御所)

The Imperial Palace in Kyoto has been the seat of the Emperor from the Heian period (794-1185) until the end of the Edo period (1603-1868). After the Edo period, the Tenno and his court moved to the Old Edo, which then became the official capital of Japan and changed its name to Tokyo – Capital of the East.

The palace and garden are within the old palace enclosure but were built much later, during the Edo period (1855). The style is loosely based on the Heian shinden-zukuri style, with large gravel courtyards and a small pond garden.

Access to the garden is only granted free of charge. Tours are held in Japanese, Chinese, and English. English tours are available at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. You can apply for them by visiting the Visitors Room on the right side of the entrance.

[Updated: 10/2018]

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eBook Coming Soon…

Directions

How to get there
From Kyoto station, take the Karasuma line to Marutamachi station (丸太町, 4 stops, 7 minutes). From there, enter the Kyoto-gyoen and go to the entrance of the Sentō-Gosho in the center of the park.

If you prefer to go by bus, take the city bus 205 and get off at the bus stop Furitsu-idaibyouin-mae (府立医大病院). The bus stop is to the east of the Kyoto-gyoen, enter the park and walk in a westwards direction.

Address
JP: 〒602-0881 京都府京都市,上京区京都御苑
EN: Kyoto Gyoen, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto-shi 〒602-0881

Opening hours

September & March 9 a.m. – 3:50 p.m. (Last admission) 4:30 p.m. (Closing time)
October – February 9 a.m. – 3:20 p.m. (Last admission) 4 p.m. (Closing time)
April – August 9 a.m. – 4:20 p.m. (Last admission) 5 p.m. (Closing time)
Closed: Mondays (if Monday is a holiday, the palace will close on Tuesday instead.)
December 28 – January 4

Admission
Entrance is free.

Sentō Gosho (Sentō Imperial Palace)  (仙洞御所)

The Sentō Imperial Palace was built in 1630 as Emperor Go-Mizunoo’s retirement residence. Several fires have burnt down the buildings over the time, and the Sentō Imperial Palace was never reconstructed. The gardens stem from the year 1630, designed by the famous garden designer and tea master Kobori Enshu.

Since at that time in Japan all the military and political power was with the Shogunate, and not the Imperial Court, the nobility had time to study and appreciate traditional Japanese art forms like poetry, calligraphy and tea ceremony. So, emperor Gomizunoo was a highly educated man with refined taste and contributed considerably to the design of the villa and gardens.

The garden designer was Kobori Enshu (小堀 遠州), a tea master and artist. Together they designed the garden, which was originally divided by a wall into a North and a South section with two separate villas for the emperor and the empress.

The gardens are laid out around a large pond with several islands, six different bridges and paths that lead around it. There are also two tea houses in the garden.

Access to the garden is only granted to guided tours (free of charge). You can apply for a tour at the Imperial Household Agency Office in Kyoto (3 Kyoto-gyoen, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto, 602-8611) or on their website: ttp://sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/english . Tours are held only in Japanese, but an English language audio guide is available.

This eBook is about the Ishi-doro, the Japanese stone lanterns in the garden.

Contents:

Introduction to Japanese stone lanterns
Brief history of the Sento Gosho gardens
Japanese stone lanterns along the garden paths:
Stone lantern – Ishi-dōrō (石燈篭)
Christian lanterns – Kirishitan-dōrō (キリシタン燈籠)
Snow-viewing lantern – Yukimi-dōrō (雪見燈籠)
Buried stone lanterns – Ikekomi-dōrō (活け込み燈籠)
Korean stone lanterns – Chōsen-dōrō (朝鮮燈籠)
Oribe stone lanterns (織部燈籠)

7 pages with
21 pictures about the stone lanterns of the Sentō Gosho garden.

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Directions

How to get there
From Kyoto station, take the Karasuma line to Marutamachi station (丸太町, 4 stops, 7 minutes). From there, enter the Kyoto-gyoen and go to the entrance of the Sentō-Gosho in the center of the park.

If you prefer to go by bus, take the city bus 205 and get off at the bus stop Furitsu-idaibyouin-mae (府立医大病院). The bus stop is to the east of the Kyoto-gyoen, enter the park and walk in a westwards direction.

Addess
JP: 〒602-0881 京都府京都市,上京区京都御苑
EN: Kyoto Gyoen, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto-shi 〒602-0881

Admission
Entrance is free, but only granted to guided tours. See above for application.

Katsura Rikyū  (桂離宮)

The Katsura Rikyū or Katsura Imperial Palace (also known under the name Katsura Detached Palace), has been built for Prince Toshihito in the early Edo period. Since the prince was very well read, the gardens feature many references to the Japanese classic “Tale of the Genji”. The architecture and the gardens of the palace are remarkable. There used to be five tea houses in the garden, of which four remain until today. The tea houses and the Old, Middle and New Shoin (drawing room, study room) are exquisite examples of Japanese architecture.

The garden features a large variety of decorative features like stone lanterns, gates, hand washing basins and different styles of laid paths, stepping stone paths and Japanese garden fences.

This eBook features the famous Ishi-doro or stone lanterns of Katsura Rikyu.

Contents:

Introduction to stone lanterns (石燈籠)
Introduction to the Katsura Imperial Palace (桂離宮)
Stone lanterns along the garden paths:
Ball-shape lantern – Mari-gata Tōrō (毬形灯籠)
Stone lantern – Ishi-dōrō (石燈篭)
Water-firefly lantern – Mizubotaru-dōrō (水蛍燈篭)
Christian lanterns – Kirishitan-dōrō (キリシタン燈籠)
Snow-viewing lantern – Yukimi-dōrō (雪見燈籠)
Triangle lantern – Sankaku-dōrō (三角燈籠)
Three-lights lantern – Sankō-dōrō (三光燈籠)
Buried stone lanterns – Ikekomi-dōrō (活け込み燈籠)
Oribe stone lanterns (織部燈籠)

8 pages with
25 pictures about the stone lanterns of the Katsura Rikyu garden.

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Directions

Katsura Rikyu is located in Kyoto’s west. The easiest way to get there is to take the Kyoto City bus 33 from Kyoto station and get off at the “Katsura Rikyu mae” bus stop. You can also take the Hankyu Kyoto train until Katsura station and walk from there in 15 minutes in eastern direction.

Address
JP: 〒615-8014 京都府京都市西京区桂御園
EN: Katsuramisono, Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 615-8014

Admission
Reservation required at the Imperial Household Agency.
Same-day reservations are ok.
A contingent of tickets is available each day from 11 am on a first come first-served basis.
http://sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/english/guide/katsura.html

1000 Yen Admission fee.
Only visitors above 12 years are allowed.