October 28, 2022

Shokin-tei teahouse and pond garden: Katsura-rikyu (Kyoto)

Shokin-tei teahouse and pond garden: Katsura-rikyu (Kyoto)

About the middle of this September, I visited Katsura Imperial Villa (located in Kyoto City, under the jurisdiction of the Imperial Household Agency), which is esteemed as one of the most exquisite examples of Japanese classic architecture and garden design. I was given a guided tour by the Imperial Household Agency, which lasted only one hour, to look around the pond-garden, the teahouses and the private Buddhist-hall scattered along the pond.

Unfortunately, due to the guiding policy of the Imperial Household Agency which is in charge of managing the facilities, it was not allowed to see the celebrated interior of the main palaces such as the Study halls, the reception hall and so on. The architectural designs, furnitures and interior decorations of these palaces are the highlights of this excellent villa.

The palaces and garden in the present form were completed in 1645 as the residence for the Katsura Family, members of Japan's Imperial Family.

The riverside area of the Katsura-gawa River, where this villa is located, was known for the noted place for moon-watching. There is a shrine called Tsukiyomi Shrine (moonlit-night-viewing shrine) near this villa, and the name "Katsura" is said to be derived from the Chinese word for "moon-viewing." 

Katsura Imperial Villa, located in such a location, was basically designed to be a place for viewing the beautiful moon. It also served as a aristocratic place for various entertainments and events, such as boating on the pond, tea ceremonies at its teahouses scattered around the pond-garden, and banquets, in addition to enjoying the moonlight.

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