|Old Imperial Villa Has Functional and Formative
Katsura Detached Palace, known for its architectural style and unique beautiful garden, is located in the southwest of Kyoto City. The source of its beauty lies in the perfect harmony of the simple, sophisticated appearance of the buildings and the beautiful scenery of the garden. The 70,000-square meter (17-acre) site is on the west bank of Katsura River and surrounded by thickets of bamboo and other trees. The garden in the center of the site has a pond with three isles of different sizes, and major buildings are located on the west side of the pond. A walking path goes around the pond, along which there are tea houses. The pond has rugged contours so the scenery changes from place to place. The whole garden is so exquisitely laid out that many different natural landscapes can be seen while walking through the hills and trees.
The Palace originated when a tea house was built as a villa of the Imperial Hachijo-no-miya Family in the 1620s, and most of the existing buildings had been constructed and the garden had been developed almost as it is now by 1662. Since the Hachijo-no-miya Family came to an end in the 1880s, the site has been administered by the Ministry of Imperial Household (the present Imperial Household Agency). Between 1975 and 1991, all the buildings, which were over 300 years old and badly damaged, were dismantled and reconstructed for the first time, and restored to their original charm.
The German architect Bruno Taut, who stayed in Japan and studied the architectural styles around the country in the 1930s, visited Katsura Detached Palace soon after his arrival. He was so impressed by its gracefulness that he wrote in his diary that it was "so beautiful that it makes me feel like crying." Later, he praised the palace as a symbol of Japanese aesthetics in his publications, thus making its elegant beauty known to the world.
To visit Katsura Detached Palace, advance permission of the Imperial Household Agency is required.
Photo: Ko-shoin, the main building, and the garden of Katsura Detached Palace (Shogakukan Inc.)
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