Shūgaku-in Rikyū(修学院離宮)

Shūgaku-in Rikyū is an exception among Kyoto’s imperial gardens. There is not only one garden on its grounds, but three separate gardens. The gardens are connected by gravel paths, which lead through vegetable patches and rice fields. It also never was the official residence of a member of the imperial family – Emperor Gomizuno-o (1596-1680) had built these gardens as a private retreat in the outskirts of Kyoto, on the foot of the Higashiyama, the eastern hills. Additionally, this garden may be the best example of the use of “borrowed landscape”- Shakkei (借景) in Japan.

The retired emperor Gomizuno-o (後水尾天皇) built the gardens between 1653 and 1655 with the financial support of the shogun. More than 600 years earlier, in the Heian period (794-1185), a temple called “Shūgaku-in” stood on this site. Without any actual political power, the emperor had lots of time on his hands to dedicate himself to the study of fine arts, poetry, architecture and design. It is therefore believed that most of the design was his own work. He has already participated in the design process of his official retirement residence Sentō Gosho in 1629, whose main designer was garden master Kobori Enshū. Enshū passed away in 1647, but his influence on emperor Gomizuno-o is still visible in the design of the Shūgaku-in Rikyū gardens.

There are three gardens: The lower garden, the middle garden and the upper garden. All of them have their own characteristics, but most visitors agree that the upper garden is the most spectacular one – especially in autumn, when the trees of the surrounding mountains turn into a vibrant red, yellow and orange.

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: .
A contingent of tickets is available each day from 11 am on a first come first-served basis.

This is eBook is about the Japanese stone lanterns (Ishi-doro) of the Shūgaku-in Rikyū gardens.

  • Shugaku-in Rikyu
  • Lower Garden
      Stone lantern – Ishi-dōrō (石燈籠)
      Kimono-sleeve lantern – Sode-gata tōrō (袖形燈籠)
      Alligator’s mouth lantern – Wanikuchi dōrō (鰐口燈籠)
      Korean stone lantern – Chōsen-dōrō (朝鮮燈籠)
  • Middle Garden
      Christian lantern – Kirishitan-dōrō (キリシタン燈籠)
      Oribe stone lantern (織部燈籠)
  • Upper Garden
      Mountain temple lantern – Yamadera-dōrō (山寺燈籠)
      Waterfall viewing lantern – Takimi-dōrō (滝見燈籠)

5 pages with
13 pictures of the stone lanterns of the Shugaku-in Rikyu garden

The eBook is delivered as PDF.

Feel free to pin these pictures to your Pinterest board:


How to get there
The easiest way to get to the Shūgaku-in Imperial Villa is to take the city bus number 5 to the stop Shūgaku-in Rikyu Michi. From there, walk 15 min in eastern direction.

Only adults over 18 can apply for the tour.

JP: 〒 606-8052 京都府京都市左京区修学院藪添
EN: Shugakuin Yabusoe, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 606-8052


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:// . 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 of the eBook:
  • 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.

The eBook comes as pdf.

Feel free to pin these pictures to your Pinterest board:


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.

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

Entrance is free, but only granted to guided tours. See above for application.
A limited number of tickets is given out for three time slots each day at around 11am. First comes first serves.