One of the highlights of our trip to Japan was our visit to the Katsura Imperial Villa Gardens, Kyoto. Not being the organised sorts we got a very early train to stand in a queue for tickets later in the day. But we were rewarded with one of the great gardens of the world where the pine trees have names and even the pebbles in the stream are apparently aesthetically arranged.
The perfectly proportioned buildings of the villa were a great influence on modernist architect such as Gropius and Le Corbusier.
Home of the Katsura family, one of old the imperial families of Japan, this villa and collection of traditional tea houses is surrounded by a graceful garden. It was completed in 1645, and holding over 300 years of history, feels as though it is unchanged.
Simple and refined, the garden is lovely to visit in the Autumn months, when the colours are beginning to change. The villa exhibits the essence of Japanese design, incorporating long-established ideas such as raised floors, which derived from the designs of early imperial palaces.