The Shugakuin is only accessible to the public through guided tour must be booked in advance and lasts about one hour and twenty minutes. It takes visitors through all three villas, and points out the significant garden features and structures. The tour is only offered in Japanese, however, an English audio guide is available. The Shugaku-in was originally constructed by the retired Emperor Go-Mizunoo, starting in 1655, with the initial construction completed in 1659. The site had been previously occupied by the Enshō-ji nunnery, founded by his oldest daughter, Princess Ume-no-miya; it was moved to Nara to make room for Go-Mizunoo's creation.
The Upper Garden contained a large artificial pond, created by building an earthen dam across a ravine; the pond contains a number of small islands. Unlike the typical Japanese garden, it is a very large stroll garden, making extensive use of the technique of "borrowed scenery". The Lower Garden was originally much more informal than what is now there; originally it was more of a simple arrival station for visiting guests.
After Go-Mizunoo's death, his daughter Princess Mitsuko became a nun, and established another temple there, the Ryinku-ji, in what later became the Middle Garden. The gardens and buildings then fell into disrepair, with some of the buildings either being destroyed, or removed. During the rule of Tokugawa Ienari, the 11th Tokugawa shogun, the Shūgaku-in was thoroughly renovated.
|Shugakuin Imperial Villa|
Shugakuin Imperial Villa Stroll garden laid out in the 17th. This garden is characterized by a complete
unification of nature and garden. Addr.: Shugakuin, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto. 15min. walk from Shugakuin-Rikyu-michi Bus Stop or Shugakuin Sta. on Eizan Dentetsu Line. Guided tours (in Japanese) are available.