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Shugakuin Imperial Villa

#41 of 1,109 things to do in Kyoto
Certificate of Excellence
Northern Kyoto
As featured in One Day in Kyoto
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Address: 1-3 Shugakuin-yabusoe, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 602-8611 , Kyoto Prefecture
Name/address in local language
Phone Number:
+81 75-781-5203

Created as an imperial summer retreat, the garden complex is a fine example...

Created as an imperial summer retreat, the garden complex is a fine example of Japanese landscape design.

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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 301 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 49
  • 20
    Very good
  • 3
  • 0
  • 1

WE managed to visit this Imperial palace by good luck. You have to apply for a permit to visit. The permits may be obtained from a local office near to the entrance and if your... read more

Reviewed 11 April 2016
Melvin B
Gdynia, Poland
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301 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 73: English reviews
Gdynia, Poland
Level Contributor
94 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 April 2016

WE managed to visit this Imperial palace by good luck. You have to apply for a permit to visit. The permits may be obtained from a local office near to the entrance and if your are English speaking then there guided tours which you can join. You can not enter unless you are on a guided tour - which are... More 

Thank Melvin B
Dublin, California
Level Contributor
39 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 February 2016

This is an old villa with very nice gardens. Perhaps I was on temple/garden overload by the time we arrived at Shugakuin but this place did not have the feeling of other similar locations in Kyoto.

Thank whereoff2nxt
Leicestershire, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
20 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 January 2016

A high class visit requiring the basic effort of reserving in advance at the imperial household building near the Kyoto Imperial palace.You can visit the Imperial palace and also ask about Katsura villa as well. Bring your passport to register and expect to be allocated a slot the following couple of days. Foreigners receive priority as they are not expected... More 

1 Thank TokyoStory
Level Contributor
210 reviews
35 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 106 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 December 2015

Our free entry permit was arranged for us by a local and we arrived by taxi. We took the free English audio guide, which was much more pleasant to listen to than the patronising american man on the Nijo-jo audio guide! The tour lasted 70 minutes and takes you through the lovely landscaped moss gardens from the lower villa, via... More 

Thank Mark M
Level Contributor
153 reviews
87 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 December 2015

Like the Katsura Imperial Villa, entry is possible only with the permission of the Imperial Household Agency. But it is worth the small hassle. This villa is more to the east of the city, and is justifiably famous for its three linked gardens, which convey a feeling of a huge expanse of nature even though the confines of the villa... More 

2 Thank Liars N F
Level Contributor
39 reviews
26 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 December 2015 via mobile

Beautiful garden. You must arrange ticket in advance, but I had no trouble getting a Thursday ticket on Tuesday at the Imperial Household Agency. It is free and they even provide an English audio guide (though you stay with the group on the guided tour). The audio guide was informative without being overwhelming or dumbed down. Spectacular views and buildings,... More 

Thank Bill G
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
121 reviews
43 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 December 2015

The fact that visitor numbers are limited by reservation make it a very attractive place for me. Transport is slightly complicated as it's far from city centre. I booked the tour months in advance but you can visit the Imperial Household Agency office in Imperial Park to apply once in Kyoto. The tour took us through all 3 villas (upper,... More 

1 Thank Jessica H
Brooklyn, New York
Level Contributor
803 reviews
116 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 442 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 November 2015

Although it is outside of the standard fare bus zone, it is easily reached by bus or subway but is a bit of a walk from there through a residential neighborhood. The garden and view from the teahouse is one of the most scenic of all the area. Definitely a top attraction and not to be missed. There are no... More 

1 Thank drichrx
Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
40 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 October 2015

I have read about the discipline and the attention to detail of the Japanese. It was in Shugakuin where I really saw this concretized. As our small group of 20 was led around the villa by a Japanese guide (I had to rely on an audio guide), I found myself silently in awe as I listened to the reason behind... More 

Thank clayman79
San Jose, CA
Level Contributor
22 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 62 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 October 2015

This is one of my favorite places but you have to make reservations months in advance. One of the great things is that they have small groups so you don't have to fight the crowd like the other places. Tip: Wear comfortable shoes.

Thank mona100

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Staying in Northern Kyoto

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Northern Kyoto
Hot springs and historic temples characterize the leafy landscapes of Northern Kyoto. Acres of tranquil residential streets are interrupted by some of Kyoto's most gorgeous architectural gems, including the majestic Golden Pavilion of Kinkakuji, the serene artistry of the Ryoanji Temple rock gardens, and the bold red paint across the structures of Enryakuji Temple. Once a religious core of the city, the district now boasts some of its most remote and peaceful hot springs, as well as a few of its best family-run mom-and-pop restaurants. A blend of extremely local at its outskirts, and highly peopled at its tourist centers, Northern Kyoto nonetheless retains a halcyon air in harmony with nature.
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