Katsura Imperial Villa

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in Kyoto
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Katsura Imperial Villa (j{, Katsura Rikyū) is one of the finest examples of purely Japanese architecture and garden design. The villa and garden in their present form were completed in 1645 as the residence for the Katsura Family, members of Japan's Imperial Family.

The villa can be viewed only on tours held by the Imperial Household Agency. They last about one hour and are in Japanese only, however, an English audio guide is available. During the tour, the tour group walks along the garden's circular walking trail around the central pond. The palace buildings can be viewed only from the outside. Photographing is allowed only from a few designated spots.

Get There and Around

Katsura Rikyu is located in western Kyoto, a 15 minute walk from Katsura Station on the Hankyu Kyoto Line. Alternatively, you can reach the villa by Kyoto City Bus number 33 from Kyoto Station in about 20 minutes. Get off at "Katsura Rikyu-mae" bus stop. The bus ride costs 240 yen and is not fully covered by the Kyoto City Bus One Day Card.

How to get to and around Kyoto

Hours and Fees

Free tours of Katsura Imperial Villa are held several times daily in Japanese only. No tours are held on Sundays and national holidays. Most Saturdays are also unavailable. Check with the agency for an up to date schedule.

To book a tour, you need to apply in advance with your passport at the Imperial Household Agency's office in Kyoto Imperial Park. Reservations are often possible on the same day as the intended visit. The agency office is open Monday to Friday from 8:45 to 12:00 and from 13:00 to 17:00.

Additionally, a small number of tour spots are available for reservation over the agency's website (see links below), however, these often get booked out. Online reservations must be completed several days before the intended visit.

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Ryokan Hirashin

3min walk to Shijo Karasuma Sta. Spacious Japanese-style rooms. 140 years of history. Public baths renovated in 2006.


Hotel Sanoya

3 min from north exit of JR Kyoto Sta. but in quiet area. Cozy, clean Japanese rooms with bath. Internet PC in lobby.


Ryokan Wakamiya

Inexpensive, cozy inn with helpful staff. 7 min walk from JR Kyoto Sta. Free Internet PC. Communal baths on top floor.

Japan Guide Recommends:

Backpackers Hostel Ks House Kyoto

One of Kyoto's most popular hostels. A ten minute walk from Kyoto Station.

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Hotel Granvia Kyoto

Located inside Kyoto Station, this is Kyoto's most convenient 4-star hotel.

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Hyatt Regency Kyoto Hotel

Elegant luxury hotel located near Sanjusangendo Temple.

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Khaosan Kyoto Guest House

Cheap and popular hostel located in the heart of the city near Kawaramachi Station.

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New Miyako Hotel Kyoto

Reasonably priced 3-star hotel located just across the street from Kyoto Station.

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Royal Park Hotel The Kyoto

Modern hotel along Sanjo Street close to Pontocho and other dining options.

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Tours and Packages

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Page last updated: January 13, 2014