West Garden at the Site of the Kaninnomiya Residence
- AddressKyotogyoen, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto City
Stroll-style pond garden
Outline of garden
Address : Kyotogyoen, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto City
Telephone : +81-(0)75-211-6348
Period of garden construction : Meiji and Taisho periods
Garden style : Stroll-style pond garden
Site area : 1,900 m2
Public openness : Open (No admission fee)
* * * * * * * * * *
The Kaninnomiya, one of the four hereditary imperial families, was established in 1710 by Imperial Prince Naohito Shinno, the sixth son of Emperor Higashiyama. The current Japanese imperial line has descended from the Kaninnomiya family since 1780. Following the relocation of the capital from Kyoto to Tokyo in 1869, most of the residences of imperial families and court nobles were removed and demolished, with the area converted into what is now known as the Kyoto Gyoen National Garden. However, one exception is the site of the Kaninnomiya residence, which remains in its original style. In order to preserve its high historical value, the buildings and the south garden were restored between 2003 and 2006, and the west garden was rebuilt during the period 2012-2013. It has been open to the public since 2006.
Photo-1. The site of the Kaninnomiya residence in the Kyoto Gyoen National Garden
The garden at the south of the residential house was first created in the middle of the 18th century. After several restorations, there is now a gently sloping lawn hill and a pond with small islands and the Suhama shore that consists of a pebbled beach and resembles a seashore landscape.
On the other hand, the garden at the west of the Kaninnomiya residence was created in the Meiji period as the residence of the director of the Kyoto branch office, the old ministry of Imperial Household. It is a stroll-style pond garden of the Edo period that was popular among the court nobility at that time. This style gives different views that can be enjoyed one after the other by walking along the path around a pond. The west garden is also characterized by the arrangement of a small stream (yarimizu), which is another traditional technique seen in the Shinden-zukuri garden style. In the west garden, many different types of stones are used within the bank of the pond, as stepping stones, and in the stone lanterns, including red Kurama stone, purple Kibune stone, and white Shirakawa stone from the areas around Kyoto.
Photo-2. A stroll-style pond garden
Photo-3. Arrangement of a small stream from the pond
Photo-4. Different types of stones used within the bank of the pond
Photo-5. A clear pond beside a walking path
The original layout of the removed director's residence, first built in 1892, has been restored and displayed through a set of wooden frames on the ground. The view of the garden from the room can be understood based on its layout, such as an entrance at the front center, guest rooms at the east, and private rooms at the west across a courtyard. The main room for private life would have faced the garden. There are verandas positioned around the residence to enjoy the garden in all seasons. Standing next to the cylindrical stone washbasin "chozu-bachi," located near the veranda, appears to provide a full view of the garden, with the large trees and sunlight filtering to make a cool space. Small streams, or yarimizu, are said to flow naturally between the trees with stepping stones and can also be seen from the main room of the sukiya-zukuri (teahouse)-styled guesthouse.
Photo-6. The original layout of the removed director's residence
Photo-7. A set of wooden frames on the ground
Photo-8. The guest and private rooms facing a courtyard
To the present day, this restored compact garden successfully provides an open atmosphere to refine beauty as a product of a landscape style during the Meiji and Taisho periods.