top of page

Shūgakuin Imperial Villa

Shūgaku-in is one of two remaining Imperial Villas in Kyōto along with Katsura. Located at the foot of Mt. Hiei, the complex was built between 1653–1655, forcing Saginomori Shrine — which was initially located there — to move from its grounds further South. Shūgaku-in consists of three separate areas: a lower, a middle, and an upper villa with appendant gardens. Only visible as part of a guided tour, it takes roughly 90 minutes to see the whole complex. While the lower and middle villas are each nice examples of garden architecture, the highlight of Shūgaku-in undoubtedly lies in the upper villa and garden. There, with a large pond as the foreground, stunning views over Kyōto’s northern mountains can be enjoyed. Strolling around the pond is especially beautiful in late autumn, when the numerous maple trees in the compound have turned colours. Asides from that, the space between the three villas is protected as a historical scenery, with local farmers growing vegetables and rice on the fields. Admission: reservation and guided tour only, same-day on-site registration possible. Nearby places of interest: Manshu-in, Sekizan Zen-in, Saginomori Shrine.
Shinnyodo 2017.jpg

An almost surreally beautiful autumn scenery at Shūgaku-in's upper garden.

Autumn / 秋
Late Summer (late afternoon sun, September) / 夏~初秋
Early Summer (May) / 初夏(新緑)