Visiting an Enchanting Villa

Following my recent long-awaited trip to Japan, high on my list while back in Kyoto was to visit one of my favourite spots in the city: Katsura Imperial Villa. Spread over almost 16 acres, this enchanting natural complex was built by a member of the Imperial Family in the 17th century, almost 380 years ago.

What strikes me is that while in Europe, Baroque style was at its height and aristocrats were showcasing their power and money through lavish architecture and decorative objects, imperial families and aristocrats in Japan were using their wealth to create places to appreciate the beauty in nature – in what was considered the ultimate luxury.


Considered the quintessence of Japanese architecture and garden design, this spectacular estate is the home of sweeping greenery, a central pond, gazebos and pavilions – where visitors can stop and take in the beautiful views. As touched on in our Guided by Nature journal, these pavilions were originally built for aristocrats’ tea ceremonies and moon viewings.

Dotted around the expansive villa complex, the pavilions (tea houses) were constructed of simple, local materials such as wood, paper, bamboo with thatched roofs. While the garden (that uses a Japanese landscaping technique known as 池泉回遊式庭園) was designed as a ‘strolling garden’ around the ponds and fountains on site, with vista points that were built to replicate prominent natural wonders such as mountains or waterfalls.

We visited Katsura Imperial Villa at 9am in at the height of summer, a time in Japan that is known for its intense humidity, when the temperature already exceeded 30 degrees C.

But we were soon distracted from the heat as we wandered through the elaborately maintained garden and marvelled at the majestic sights of nature and architecture. We contemplated what was on the minds of those aristocrats in the 17th century; lost in time in a moment of stillness and silence.

There are many places in Japan that I recommend to visit but Katsura Imperial Villa has to be one of the top on my list.

Thank you for taking the time to read this month’s journal. If you are interested in having inspirational content delivered straight to your inbox, you can also sign up to our monthly newsletter below. Don’t worry, we promise not to spam you!

The List

The List

Be the first to receive our exclusive offers and tips to turn your house into a serene space when you sign up for our mailing list.