This perfect walled in garden just down the hill from Nanzen-ji Temple is a brilliant place to escape the crowds that plague the big-name spots of Higashiyama.
image © Damien Douxchamps
The villa of prominent Meiji Era statesman Yamagata Aritomo, who played a pivotal role in the Russo-Japanese war, Murin-an villa is the ultimate in secret gardens. Hidden behind plain walls, you could easily pass right by it and ignore the place entirely (which is exactly what most visitors do). But those who enter the narrow gateway at the southern end of the compound are rewarded by a tranquil garden centered on a lovely pond. The two main buildings serve as perfect examples of the changes Japan was going through at the time of the villas construction (around the turn of last century): One is traditionally Japanese, the other is built along Western lines and includes Western-style seats (it was here that important meetings were held to discuss Japan’s military actions against Russia). The villa is most beautiful in autumn, when the many maple trees turn a brilliant array of reds, oranges and yellows.
31 Kusagawa-cho, Nanzen-ji, Sakyo-ku
9am to 5pm (until 6pm April to September)
Non-smoking area: Yes
7 min walk from Keage Station, Tozai subway line
Official Website (English)
Where Is This Place Located?See these places on our Kyoto Google map:
- Open the Kyoto map
- You will see the list of places on the left hand side. (Click the 3-line icon in the top left corner if not). Scroll down or use the map search (the magnifying glass icon) to find the place you want.
- Click the name of the place in the list. Its location pin will be highlighted on the map.
- Map pins are color coded - BLUE: Hotels | VIOLET: Ryokan | PINK: Places to Eat | YELLOW: Things to See and Do
- If you're using the map on your phone, open the map and then search for the name of the place. The map will then zoom in on its location.
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com - usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too.
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Kyoto
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router.
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass - here's my explanation of why it's worth it
- A prepaid Icoca card makes travelling around Kyoto easy - here's how.
- Get travel insurance for Japan - we recommend World Nomads (and here's why)