Peace. This five letter word describes with perfect accuracy the ambiance of the Shugaku-in Imperial Villa (修学院離宮) in Kyoto, Japan. Not many places on earth can offer such beauty, serenity, culture, comfort and the perfect synergy of those four traits. This extraordinary villa is at the top of a quaint mountain and nestled deep into the cliff-side. As I was looking up at this masterpiece from the base of the mountain I could not help but be in awe. With every step the awesomeness of this magnificent paradise increased exponentially. This silent villa exploded with charisma and charm, while maintaining a traditional Japanese landscape and architecture.
I kept thinking to myself that this place was the true Eden. The still water in the ponds, the autumn leaves falling into the lake, the gentle breeze across my face, all of these came together to create heaven on earth. To think that this building and landscape has, practically speaking, remained the same since its creation in 1655 is outstanding. The amount of time and precision to maintain such a work of art must be insurmountable, but obviously doable. You gain a great sense of respect for Japanese culture simply by understanding the dedication one must have to continue preserving such a grand cause. Kyoto was one of the lucky cities during World War 2 that was not bombed, so much of Kyoto’s ancient culture is still intact. The Shugaku-in Imperial Villa is one of many remnants of Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan.
I can not help but think that life as royalty must be oh so grand. It must be nice after a long-arduous week on the throne you get to stroll up to your grandiose imperial villa and relax pond-side until your heart is content. The beauty was without question on par with anything I have ever seen before. The amount of focus on detail and structure really has set a tone for me in my life and my endeavors. The fact that this beautiful villa has maintained for so many years and is still being preserved is a true testament to loyalty. As with all of my travels, after seeing this wonderful paradise I had grown emotionally and intellectually. I have become a better son, friend and human because of this simple, yet elegant wonderland. Reading about historical events, watching movies or TV shows about the architecture, and even, hearing or reading secondhand about this amazing royal get-away in a magazine or on a blog, really can not do it the justice that it deserves. To experience the true beauty of Shugaku-in Imperial Villa you need the smells, sounds and sights of this detached palace. Push it!