Hama-rikyū-onshi-teien (浜離宮恩賜庭園)

Hama-rikyū-onshi-teien (浜離宮恩賜庭園)

There are a great many things to see in this roughly square 60-acre park, but chief among these are the tidal pond (Shioiri-no-ike 潮入の池) with its massive floodgate, the duck-hunting blinds, the staggered bridges shaded by wisteria trellises, and a 300-year-old pine cascading down a stepped trellis. Groves of cherry trees and Japanese apricots provide additional seasonal color.

Katsura Rikyu Imperial Detached Palace   桂離宮

Katsura Rikyu Imperial Detached Palace 桂離宮

The Katsura Rikyū (Imperial Detached Palace) is one of three Imperial Villas of Kyoto and known for its architecture and stroll garden. Originally the estate of Hachijo-no-mia Imperial Family, it is thought to have been designed by Prince Toshihito as Katsura Sanso Estate in the Edo period, although some attribute its design to tea master, Kobori Enshū. The garden contains three main ‘pleasingly rustic’ buildings; Ko-shoin, Chu-shoin and Shin-goten. For the most part, they are constructed with simple, unfinished wood with scarce ornamentation, harmonizing well with the natural surroundings of the hill and pond stroll garden.

Kinkaku-ji   金閣寺

Kinkaku-ji 金閣寺

Kinkaku-ji gets its name from the “Golden Pavilion” with its top two floors covered in gold leaf. It is formally known as Rokuon-ji (Deer Park Temple). The surrounding gardens were designed to resemble the Western Paradise of Amida Buddha. The beautiful stroll gardens wrap above the pavilion along a small stream that flows into Kyouko-chi (Mirror Pond). It is also the home of the Sekka-tei teahouse.

Koke-dera 苔寺  (or Saihōji  西芳寺)

Koke-dera 苔寺 (or Saihōji 西芳寺)

Koke-dera, or officially “Saiho-ji” (Moss Temple) was founded by Buddhist priest Gyoki and redone by Zen Priest and well-known garden designer Muso Kokushi (Soseki) in 1339. Although it is known today as the Moss Temple because of its 120 species of moss, it was not planned this way. Through centuries of wars, destruction, floods, reconstruction and neglect, nature finally claimed Saiho-ji, and the mosses slowly took hold, converting what was left of the garden into a beauty of nature. The garden is more commonly known as the Moss Temple and is home to 120 types of moss.

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