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.
The view from the foot of Mount Hiei provides a magnificent view of the city and the mountains to the North in a good example of Shakkei (borrowed scenery). This 545,000 square meter villa consists of three parts, Upper Villa, Middle Villa, and Lower Villa. The name comes from the burned Shugakuin Temple from the middle Heian Period.
The Kumamoto En Japanese Garden is part of the Sister City relationship between Kumamoto City, Japan and San Antonio, Texas. It was constructed between March and April of 1989 by a team of carefully selected volunteer craftsmen and landscapers from Kumamoto, Kyoto, Tokyo, and San Antonio. This team included craftsmen from Yasuimoku Koumuten in Kyoto. The garden is patterned after the famous 300 year old Suizenji Park 水前寺 in Kumamoto and contains many of the same elements. These plaques in English and Japanese stand at the entrance to the Kumamoto En (pictured below).