Concept

Katsura Imperial Villa

Summary
The Katsura Imperial Villa, or Katsura Detached Palace, is an Imperial residence with associated gardens and outbuildings in the western suburbs of Kyoto, Japan. Located on the western bank of the Katsura River in Katsura, Nishikyō-ku, the Villa is 8km distant from the main Kyoto Imperial Palace. The villa and gardens are nationally recognized as an Important Cultural Property of Japan. The grounds of the villa are regarded as a notable exemplar of traditional Japanese gardening. Tea ceremony houses within the strolling gardens and the main villa itself are all sited to maximize appreciation of varied foliage and changing seasonal vistas. The palace originally belonged to the prince of the Hachijō-no-miya (八条宮) family. The Imperial Household Agency currently administers the site. Although the Imperial Villa itself is not open to visitors, public tours of the gardens are available by appointment. The Katsura district of Kyoto has long been favored for villas, and in the Heian period, Fujiwara no Michinaga had a villa there. The members of the Heian court found it an elegant location for viewing the Moon. Prince Hachijō Toshihito (智仁; 1579–1629), the founder of the Katsura Imperial Villa, was born on 13 February 1579. He was the sixth son of Prince Sanehito, and a descendant of Emperor Ogimachi. In 1586, Toshihito was adopted by Hideyoshi Toyotomi, but they separated in 1589 when Hideyoshi had his own son. He presented Toshihito with land that yielded 3000 koku (15,000 bushels of rice) and allowed him to establish a new house in the imperial line, which became the Hachijo family line.[1] From an early age, Prince Toshihito was very familiar with the Tales of Genji, the Poems of Past and Present, and the works of Po Chu-i.[2] He was incredibly fond of these works, and was said to copy passages from the works for leisure. One such passage, from the Tales of Genji, had written: Far away, in the country village of Katsura, the reflection of the moon upon the water is clear and tranquil.
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