A masterpiece built in the golden era of wooden architecture
Garyu Sanso is a mountain villa constructed in the traditional sukiya style over an area of 10,000 ㎡ overlooking the picturesque area of Garyu-no-Fuchi, a basin on the Hiji River. It has also been called Ozu Katsura Imperial Villa since Ganryu Sanso’s beauty is second to none even to the real Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto. Planned over 10 years and built in 4 by trader Torajiro Kawauchi since he had wanted to spend his remaining years in the area, the villa was finally completed in 1907. Gathering together some of the famed carpenters from Kyoto and Kobe, they built the three main buildings of the villa (the main villa of Garyu-in and the tea houses of Furo-an and Chishi-an), and a Japanese garden which makes use of the surrounding beauty of the Hiji River to create masterpieces of architecture that are now Tangible Cultural Properties open to the public and have earned one star on the Green Michelin Guide. Only open on Sundays and holidays from April to October, you can have matcha tea and Japanese confections in the Furo-an.
Garyu-in, built in the special sukiya style
The main villa of Garyu-in was the building that caught the most passion from Kawauchi as a farm-style single-storied building with thatched roofs that used specially-selected choice wood from all over the nation. Even within the simplicity of the Geirei-no-Ma which is the entryway for Garyu-in, there is fine craftsmanship applied to areas such as the ceiling. In the Seisui-no-Ma which was built for summer, its ceiling is higher than that for any other room, and it can be seen that it was created to feel the coolness. The ranma (openwork screen over sliding doors) of the household shrine was carved to illustrate all four seasons. The Isshi-no-Ma is a tatami-mat study room which incorporated the style of the Katsura Imperial Villa into parts like the round windows, open verandas, the sliding doors and the ceiling panels, and when the mats are removed, the room was also used as a Noh stage. The ranma carvings involved openwork of elegant wild chrysanthemum and Chinese phoenixes, and everywhere from the pillars to the ceiling, it can be seen that the design was done to the smallest details. The Kagetsu-no-Ma (Misty Moon Room) has alcove shelves that appear hazy with scrolls illustrated with Mt. Fuji, altar rooms at the back of the round windows, and when the room is candlelit, it takes on a misty moonlit appearance which provided the impetus for its name. You will want to appreciate this masterpiece architecture with its special feel of the world of the artisan at every turn.