The Emperor’s Gardens

The former Imperial Palace in Central Kyoto has a complicated history, including the fact that it has been destroyed by fire and rebuilt eight times over about eight centuries. Most of what you see today was built in 1855, and just 14 years later the Emperor moved to Edo (now known as Tokyo) but the structures were preserved and continue to be periodically restored. The new vermillion paint on this part of the courtyard structure surrounding the Shishin-den ceremonial building is particulary striking.


Here is the main Shishin-den building. The roof surface is composed of dozens of layers of Hinoki tree bark. Each square meter takes one person about a day to create, and the entire roof has to be replaced every 30 years. It’s non-stop maintenance!


The posts supporting this terrace rest on specially shaped stones and are not directly attached, so that in an earthquake some movement is possible without damaging the structure.


But I was more interested in the gardens. This is the main garden, featuring a stylized beach with slate rocks instead of sand.


The former Emperor’s private garden, just outside his residence, is stunning.


Our English-speaking tour guide said there were only two gardeners for all the landscaping at the Imperial Palace, but I counted four people pruning shrubs and raking, and three other people pruning pines. So her definition of the word “gardener” and my definition are apparently not in alignment.

Next post about our Kyoto trip >>> Evening Doorways

One thought on “The Emperor’s Gardens

  1. Pingback: Hiking Mt Hiei, in Reverse | Electric Travels

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