Discovering the Serenity of Murin-an: A Hidden Gem in Kyoto

Welcome, dear travelers, to another exciting exploration of Japan’s rich cultural tapestry. Today, we journey to the heart of Kyoto, where we will discover the tranquil beauty of Murin-an, a villa residence steeped in history and natural splendor.

Murin an

A Stroll Through History

Constructed between 1894 and 1896 by Yamagata Aritomo, a prominent politician of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Murin-an stands as a testament to Japan’s Meiji era. The villa comprises three distinct structures: the main house, a Western-style house, and a tearoom, each offering a unique glimpse into the past.

The main house, built in the sukiya-zukuri architectural style, harmoniously blends with the surrounding garden, creating a serene atmosphere that transports visitors back to the late 19th century. The Western-style house showcases the fusion of Japanese and Western architecture during Japan’s modernization period. It was here that the historic “Murin-an Conference” took place, where former Prime Minister Ito Hirobumi and others held discussions with Yamagata Aritomo in advance of the Russo-Japanese War.

The Garden: A Masterpiece of Natural Beauty

Murin-an’s garden is a modern Japanese masterpiece from the late 19th century. Moving away from the traditional Japanese garden design of ponds and rocks symbolizing oceans and islands, this garden embraces a new naturalist vision. It features a mountain village landscape and a dynamic water stream, reminiscent of a natural brook. Among the cluster of garden villas in the Nanzen-ji Temple neighborhood, it is the only garden open to the public all year round. The garden was designated a national Place of Scenic Beauty in 1951.

Activities and Experiences

Murin-an offers a variety of activities for visitors to immerse themselves in the villa’s rich history and serene environment. Guided garden tours, led by garden experts, are available on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. These tours require reservations and come with a fee. For those who prefer a more casual experience, free 10-minute garden explanations are available without reservations.

For a taste of traditional Japanese culture, visitors can participate in a tea ceremony experience in the garden’s tearoom. This activity, which requires a reservation and comes with a fee, includes a guided tour of the garden.

Murin-an Café and Special Services

After exploring the villa and garden, visitors can relax at the Murin-an Café with a beverage such as matcha green tea, coffee, or craft beer, and sweets that include original bean-jam pancakes (dorayaki) and Russian cakes from Murakami Kaishindo.

Murin-an also hosts special events and lectures under the theme of “gather in the garden and nurture the garden.” These include the Moss Garden Creation Experience and Zaifu Tea at Murin-an. Please note that these events are held irregularly, require reservations, and come with a fee.

Practical Information

Murin-an is located at 31 Nanzenji Kusakawa-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture 606-8437. The villa is accessible by city bus (Kyoto Okazaki Loop bus), train (Kyoto City Tozai Subway Line), and taxi. For those using wheelchairs, please note that there are stepping stones in the garden, which may make it difficult to enter. However, chairs with rollers are available for viewing the garden from the rooms.

For more information, you can contact Murin-an at +81-75-771-3909 or via email at You can also visit their official website at

Ticket Prices and Facilities

The ticket prices for Murin-an vary depending on the activities you choose to participate in. For the most accurate and up-to-date information, please refer to the official website.

Murin-an provides facilities such as restrooms and a café. Please note that while the garden may be difficult to navigate for those with mobility issues due to stepping stones, chairs with rollers are available to allow everyone to enjoy the beautiful views.

Guided Tours and Special Events

Guided tours are available and can be tailored to accommodate requests. These tours are led by a garden expert and require a reservation. Murin-an also hosts special events and lectures throughout the year, such as the Moss Garden Creation Experience and Zaifu Tea at Murin-an.

Rules and Regulations

Visitors are asked to respect the tranquility of the garden and the historical significance of the villa. Specific rules and regulations may apply to certain areas or activities, so it’s always a good idea to check with the staff or on the official website before your visit.

Best Time to Visit

Murin-an is open all year round, allowing visitors to experience the changing seasons in the garden. However, the best time to visit would be during the spring and autumn seasons when the garden is at its most vibrant.

Final Thoughts

Visiting Murin-an is more than just a sightseeing trip; it’s a journey back in time and an opportunity to immerse oneself in the serene beauty of traditional Japanese culture. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or a traveler seeking unique experiences, Murin-an has something to offer you.

Remember, while the beauty of Murin-an is timeless, the customs and traditions it represents are delicate. As international visitors, let’s appreciate and respect these traditions, ensuring they continue to be enjoyed by generations to come.

Safe travels, and I hope you enjoy your visit to Murin-an as much as I did!

Plan your visit to Murin-an today!

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