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Shugakuin Imperial Villa (Cw@{, Shugakuin Rikyū) was built in the 17th century by Emperor Gomizuno and is now managed by the Imperial Household Agency. It consists of the Upper, Middle and Lower Villa areas, each featuring gardens and buildings of the traditional imperial style.

Shugakuin's name comes from a former temple built on the same site in the tenth century. The Imperial Villa was constructed between 1655 and 1659, with a palace for Gomizuno's daughter added ten years later. More recently in 1964, the surrounding farmlands were bought by the Imperial Household Agency. They are leased out to local farmers who continue to work the fields.

Shugakuin is only accessible to the public through guided tours. Tours last about one hour and twenty minutes and take visitors through all three villas, pointing out the significant garden features and structures. The tour is held in Japanese; however audio guides in several foreign languages are available.

As with all Imperial properties, it is not possible to enter any of the buildings. However, for those interested in Japanese design and architecture, several buildings are left open along the tour route so that visitors can see inside. Important features such as elevated tatami mats and painted panels are pointed out by the audio guide.

Getting there and around

The closest station to Shugakuin is Shugakuin Station on the Eizan Railway Line, from where the villa's entrance gates can be reached in a 10 to 15 minute walk.

From Kyoto Station, take the JR Nara Line to Tofukuji (3 minutes) and transfer to the Keihan Line to its terminus, Demachiyanagi (10 minutes). From there, take the Eizan Railway to Shugakuin (7 minutes). The entire trip costs 650 yen and takes about 40 minutes.

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Hours and Fees

Free tours of Shugakuin Imperial Villa are held several times per day except on Mondays (or the following day if Monday falls on a national holiday).

To book a tour, you need to apply in advance with your passport at the Imperial Household Agency's office in Kyoto Imperial Park (8:40 to 17:00, closed on Mondays, or next day if Monday falls on a national holiday). Alternatively, 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.

In addition, a limited number of same-day tickets for some of the tours are distributed at the Shugakuin Imperial Villa from 11:00 on a first-come first-serve basis.

Hotels around Kyoto

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      A little, superior ryokan right near Togetsukyo Bridge in Arashiyama. Free transfer from JR station. Private bath and open-air baths available. 5min walk to the Bamboo Groves.
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      Mugen is a property that was built 160 years ago, situated in Kyoto, 1 km from Nijo Castle. Every room at Mugen features an en suite shower room, toilet, free toiletries and a hairdryer. Free WiFi is available throughout the entire property. You will find a shared lounge on site and a bar at the annex building. The ryokan also offers bike hire. Imperial Palace is 1.1 km from Mugen, while Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is 1.6 km from the property. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 39 km from the property.
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    • Mitsuki Kyoto
      Budget-friendly
      In a prime location in Kyoto, Mitsuki Kyoto offers a vegetarian breakfast and free WiFi. The property features inner courtyard and quiet street views, and is 600 metres from Kyoto International Manga Museum. The accommodation features full-day security and luggage storage space for guests. The ryokan provides certain units with garden views, and the units are equipped with a private bathroom. Guests can enjoy a vegan or a gluten-free breakfast, which can also be delivered to your room. A bar can be found on-site. The area is popular for cycling, and bike hire is available at this 2-star ryokan. Guests can relax in the garden at the property. Nijo Castle is 1.1 km from the ryokan, while Kyoto Shigaku Kaikan Conference Hall is 1.8 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 46 km from Mitsuki Kyoto.
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    • Guesthouse KYOTO COMPASS
      Budget-friendly
      Located in Kyoto, this traditional Japanese guest house features free Wi-Fi and a free public computer. Shichijo Onmae bus stop is 3 minutesf walk away. A seating area and shared bathroom are provided with each room at Guesthouse KYOTO COMPASS. Free toiletries are provided and blankets are available upon request. Select rooms have a garden view. A shared living area and bicycles are available for guestsf use during their stay at this Kyoto Guesthouse Compass. Access to the shared kitchen is available upon request. The guest house is 4.5 km from Imperial Palace and 2.2 km from Kyoto Station. Nijo Castle and Toji Castle are within a 30 minutesf bus ride away.
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    • Ryokan Tori
      Mid-range
      Ryokan Tori is located in Kyoto, 2 km from Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. The property is around 2.3 km from Nijo Castle and Kyoto Imperial Palace. The property is 3.2 km from Kinkaku-ji Temple and 3.7 km from Kyoto International Manga Museum. All guest rooms in the ryokan are fitted with a kettle. Each room has a shared bathroom, while selected rooms are fitted with a balcony and others also offer a garden view. All rooms will provide guests with a fridge. Guests at tori can enjoy an Asian breakfast. Heian Shrine is 5 km from the accommodation. Itami Airport is 50 km from the property.
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    • Kyonoyado Gekkoan
      Luxury
      Set in the Nakagyo Ward district in Kyoto, Kyonoyado Gekkoan offers an equipped accommodation with an balcony and free WiFi. The property is 1.1 km from Nijo Castle. This holiday home comes with a kitchenette with a microwave and a toaster, a flat-screen TV, a seating area and a bathroom with a bath. A vegetarian or continental breakfast is available daily at the property. Kyoto International Manga Museum is 2.1 km from the holiday home. Osaka Itami Airport is 37 km from the property.
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    • Guesthouse Engawa
      Budget-friendly
      Guesthouse Engawa offers accommodation in Kyoto. Guests can relax and enjoy the peace and quiet of Kyoto in their rooms. Each comes with a flat-screen TV, and an electric kettle will be provided upon request. Bathroom facilities are shared with other guests. Free toiletries and hairdryers are also available. There is luggage storage space at the property. Kiyomizu-dera Temple is 600 metres from Guesthouse Engawa, while Heian Shrine is 2.4 km from the property. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 39 km from the property.
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    • Gallery Nozawa Inn
      Budget-friendly
      Gallery Nozawa Inn offers accommodation in Kyoto, 25 minutes on foot from JR Kyoto Station. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. Every room includes a flat-screen TV and air conditioning. Each room is equipped with a private toilet, and bathrooms are shared. For your comfort, you will find free toiletries and a hairdryer. There is luggage storage space at the property. Guests can sample Japanese-style breakfast featuring seasonal ingredients. There is a public bathhouse located a 10-minute walk away. Nijo Castle is 2.4 km from Gallery Nozawa Inn, while Kyoto International Manga Museum is 2.4 km from the property. Osaka Itami Airport is 36 km away.
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    • Yado Kiramachi
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      Yado Kiramachi offers accommodation set 600 metres from the centre of Kyoto and provides a garden and a terrace. The air-conditioned accommodation is 600 metres from Kyoto Shigaku Kaikan Conference Hall. The ryokan features family rooms. Certain units in the ryokan have private entrance and are equipped with desk and wardrobe. With a private bathroom, units at the ryokan also have free WiFi, while selected rooms will provide you with a balcony. At the ryokan, some units are soundproof. A bar can be found on-site. Kyoto International Manga Museum is 1.3 km from the ryokan, while Gion Shijo Station is 1.6 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 45 km from Yado Kiramachi.
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    • Guesthouse HANA Nishijin
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      Guesthouse HANA Kyoto is located in Kyoto, 300 metres from Kitano Tenmangu and 1.2 km from Kinkaku-ji Temple. A simple complimentary breakfast service is provided for guests. Bathroom facilities are shared. Guesthouse HANA Kyoto features free WiFi throughout the property. There is a shared kitchen and a common area with a TV at the property. Nijo Castle is 2.1 km from Guesthouse HANA Kyoto, while Imperial Palace is 2.3 km from the property. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 39 km from Guesthouse HANA Kyoto.
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    • Rangetsu
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      Located in a quiet neighborhood in Arashiyama district, Rangetsu offers Japanese-style accommodations with a private Hinoki cypress wood bath and free wired internet access. Guests can also relax in the public indoor/outdoor baths as well. Keifuku Arashiyama Train Station is a 10-minute walk away. The air-conditioned rooms feature tatami (woven-straw) floors and Japanese futon bedding. Each comes with a flat-screen TV, a fridge and a safety deposit box. Japanese Yukata robes are provided for all guests. Some rooms have a private open-air bath. Rangetsu Ryokan is a 15-minute walk from Arashiyama Monkey Park and a 10-minute walk from Tenryu-ji Temple. Togetsu Bridge is a 5-minute walk and Hankyu Arashiyama Train Station is a 15-minute walk away. Photocopying services and luggage storage is offered at the front desk. Free parking is on-site.
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Experiences around Kyoto

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