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Katsura Villa from across the pond

Katsura Villa from across the pond


Evans’ Rag

Vol 1 Issue 23

Save for the mastery of an egret at water’s edge on cedar doors between verandas ducks among the rushes on another pair, the day for shooting photographs all was swept museum bare.” 


Photos of Katsura

I began this week’s blog a few weeks ago, attempting to see if I might obtain photographs of the interior of Katsura Villa, published in Katsura Imperial Villa, 2005 by Electa Architecture. It was easy enough to google the photographer and find his website. God bless Google wherever (s)he is.

And was rewarded by a very prompt and personal response from Yoshiharu Matsumura. I explained why I was hoping to use the photos, getting quite specific as to which (since I figured my budget couldn’t handle more than a handful).

In a subsequent email, Matsumura apologized, saying that he was unable to offer any. The Imperial House Agency frowned on images being circulated–presumably on humble websites as mine?

Man, was I bummed.

Katsura Villa hasn’t been occupied for generations. It was never the home of a Japanese Emperor– but that of an Emperor's brother. And sad to say, it’s not open to the public. An architectural masterwork left empty. It’s understandable the Agency wants to protect it from the hordes of mad tourists, but with no exceptions for scholars? Interested architects? Even photos?

The poem, Photos of Katsura was written at a time I never expected to visit, but in 2013 we were able to tour the gardens (not the villa itself). I’ve included a handful of my photos with the blog.

Katsura Villa’s Old Shoin, as seen from across the pond.

Katsura Villa’s Old Shoin, as seen from across the pond.