Visit historic facilities related to the Japanese Imperial Family

Facilities connected to the Imperial Royal Family are not- to- be- missed sightseeing spots

The main facilities associated with the Imperial Family are historic buildings and gardens. “Imperial villas” are popular among visitors from abroad who wish to experience the beauty of their gardens and scenery. The “Katsura Imperial Villa” and “Shugakuin Imperial Villa” are two in Kyoto City that you will not want to miss.

At the “Katsura Imperial Villa”, you will find a study room and a tea room located around a pond. The layout and fusion of the gardens and buildings are a magnificent sight and are said to be the culmination of the beauty of Japanese gardens. There are many architects abroad as well as students of architecture who want to see these sights and the German architect Bruno Taut was famously moved to tears by their beauty.

Shugakuin Imperial Villa
Yokuryuchi Pond at the Upper Garden of the nature-abundant Shugakuin Imperial Villa ((C) Kyoto Imperial Household Agency)

“Shugakuin Imperial Villa” is a garden that has adopted the technique of borrowing the scenery of mountains on its spacious grounds. The beauty of this garden can be enjoyed all throughout the four distinctive seasons but the season of the autumnal leaves is particularly a recommended time of the year to visit.

Applying for a visit

Central Kyoto City has facilities associated with the Imperial Family such as the “Kyoto Imperial Palace” and the “Sento Imperial Palace”. These are spots that you will want to visit during your stay in Kyoto.

Kyoto Imperial Palace
Shishinden and the Southern Garden at the Kyoto Imperial Palace ((C) Kyoto Imperial Household Agency)

“Kyoto Imperial Palace” is located in the central-northern part of the Kyoto Gyoen National Garden. The Kyoto Imperial Palace is a building that has a long and distinguished history and lets you see the architectural styles of various periods as of the Heian Period (from 794 to around 1185/1192) through structures such as the Shishinden, the Seiryoden, the Kogosho, the Ogakumonjyo, and the Otsunegoten.

Sento Imperial
Sento Imperial where you can enjoy the scenery of the four distinctive seasons ((C) Kyoto Imperial Household Agency)

Please also be sure to visit “Sento Imperial Palace”, which is also in the Kyoto Gyoen National Garden. It is a stroll garden that was constructed during the 17th century. It still retains its garden and tea room, and visitors can enjoy the scenery of the four distinctive seasons as they walk around the ponds on the grounds.

It can be accessed with advanced reservations. Please refer to the Imperial Household Agency page for details.

The State Guest House opened to the public is also gaining wide attention

These are not the only facilities associated with the Imperial Family that you can enjoy during your stay in Japan. The “State Guest House, Akasaka Palace” (Tokyo), which was built for entertaining guests from abroad, is scheduled to be open to the public from April 19 to May 13, 2016 (excluding April 27 and from May 9 to 11) and can be visited with advanced reservations. The public opening of the “Kyoto State Guest House”, which is in the Kyoto Gyoen National Garden, is also under review. When coming to Japan, please be sure to visit facilities that are associated with the Imperial Family, where you can experience Japan’s history and beautiful nature.

State Guest House, Akasaka Palace
The “State Guest House, Akasaka Palace”, which is open to the public for a limited time (source: website of the Cabinet Office, Government of Japan (