[Showing tree structure]

Visiting Katsura Rikyu Imperial Villa No.2


A cambered earthen bridge could be seen on Miyukimichi Way to the study from the right side of Miyukimon Gate. The earthen bridge in front of a middle gate of the study, placed slightly angled from the axes, enhanced authority of the place by perceivably enlarging the place and elongating the pathway to the study.

From the bridge, I headed to Shokintei by following the route in clockwise. I walked through Momijinobaba (Japanese maple place) by turning to left from Miyukimichi, and followed by steppingstones, I went further left toward Sotokoshikake (outside seating space for tea ceremony.) it is fairly to state that the tea ceremony space along the garden scenery from the point to Shokintei is the best sequence unfolding Japanese garden. As following the route, visitors must have excitement to see every single detail that has a significant treat and meaning building up a big picture composing the garden.

The steppingstones at Momijinobaba with sophisticated town appearance, rather than the wild, has great significant presence as well as Sotokoshikake with Kayabuki-Yosemune (the hipped thatched roof) centralizing the space surrounded by Tukiyama (an artificial hill), hedges, and trees, with which enclosing the space from the outer space to create a sense of exceptionality with serenity.

The most outstanding feature of the place is a 54 feet-long stone slab  called as Nobedan, which dynamically defining the space. It indicated Shokintei intentionally hidden in dense vegetation and Tsukiyama in front, and it consequently realizes panoramic spectacle seen later on.

This Nobedan, varied in width from 88cm to 84cm narrowed down toward Shokintei, is a straightforward example of perspective technique. Narrowing down the distance between two sides of Tsukiyama and hedges resulted great effect on distancing.

This impressive Nobedan, elaborated with combination of processed stones and natural stones, was placed higher with sophisticated proportion in order to stand up in mildly enclosed space. This Nobedan is called “Semi-cursive Steppingstone,” whereas the most famous stone paving “Genuine (or Standard) Steppingstone” can be seen at the entrance called Koshiyose (parking space for carriage)-Maeniwa (the front garden.) Chozubachi (stone basin for tea ceremony) as well as Tourou (garden lantern) as eyestop to orientate visitors are set at both ends of Nobedan. One of Chozubachi was twofold that an outer rectangular basin contains an inner basin diagonally placed. It brilliantly showed seasonal changes by different amount of water filling in.

Also, as mentioning about the planting, there are many sago cycads planted on Tsukiyama, namely, called “cycad hill”. Because of symbolizing fertility with the exotic appearance, it had been popular to plant cycads in Japanese garden since Momoyama period (1583-1600). However, Hachijonomiya imperial family, formerly owning the villa, had left tragic loss of family head and heirs one after another, and resulted historically died out.

As turning around toward a slight sound of water flow from the end of Semi-cursive Steppingstone, there was the grand highlight of Katsura Imperial Palace emerged.

To be continued,

Yoshiki Toda

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