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)
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Kyoto Vacation Checklist
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