One of Japan's most important large-scale cultural treasures, Katsura Imperial Villa preserves traditional Edo period architecture and garden design. Tatami, or rice straw mats, line the interior floors, and screen walls separate the ancient drawing room from tea houses. A circular walking trail around the estate leads to a pond in the center of a zen garden, on which many other Japanese gardens have been designed.
Completed in 1645, the Villa housed the Katsura Family, members of Japan's Imperial Family. Although Imperial Family members live in Tokyo in modern times, the residence provides a look into the stately life of princes in the 17th and 18th centuries. Today, the Imperial Household Agency manages the Villa.
From Kyoto Station, take city bus number 33 to the Katsura Rikyu-mae bus stop. The villa is also a 15 minute from from Ktsura Station on the Hankyu Kyoto Line. To visit the Villa, a tour must be booked through the Imperial Household Agency. Tours last one hour and are given in Japanese; English audio guides are available. The palace buildings cannot be entered.