In April 2015, the art installation KOU-AN - Glass Teahouse was unveiled on the wooden observation deck of Seiryuden Temple, high up in the Eastern mountains of Kyoto. The transparent structure, constructed of thick glass panels joined by a minimal amount of mirrored metal supports, is a modern exploration of traditional Japanese culture designed by artist Yoshioka Tokujin as part of the 50th anniversary of the sister-city relationship between Kyoto and Florence, Italy.

The artist Yoshioka Tokujin shows of rainbows cast as sunlight shines through the teahouse

Yoshioka Tokujin, who often works with glass and light as mediums, has various works displayed in the permanent galleries of museums such as the MoMA in New York and the Musee d'Orsay in Paris. The glass teahouse project originally stems from plans for a transparent Japanese house first presented in 2002. The project eventually developed into a teahouse as a symbol of Japanese culture, and this is the first full scale version of the structure that has been put on display.

The sharp angular lines of the teahouse roof
Rainbows appear throughout the installation
Water block benches, also designed by Yoshioka Tokujin, are placed around the teahouse
Some of the implements used to make tea

The glass teahouse stands on the elegant, wooden observation deck at the Shogunzuka Mound, from where visitors can enjoy spectacular panoramic views of Kyoto from nearly 220 meters above the city. The observation deck itself was completed and opened only in fall 2014 together with the new main hall of the Seiryuden Temple.

The teahouse stands on the observation deck of Seiryuden on the top of Mount Higashiyama
The view over Kyoto from the observation deck at Seiryuden

The glass teahouse is scheduled to be on display through April 2016. Entry to Seiryuden Temple and the observation deck costs 500 yen. The site is open daily from 9:00 to 17:00 (or until 21:30 during seasonal illumination periods in spring and autumn). The area is not accessible by public transportation. Instead, it is best to take a taxi to Shogunzuka (about 5 minutes, 1000 yen from Keage Station on the Tozai Subway Line). More about Shogunzuka.

The artist and a monk participate in a tea ceremony
Shoes lined up at the entrance