The Magic of Ogawa Jihei's Gardens


This walking tour can only be booked as a private tour for up to 7 persons.

Ogawa Jihei VII (1860 -1933) lived in a rapidly industralising Japan. But the gardens he designed were far removed from the industrial. Witness for yourself the expansive works of Kyoto’s “magician of water” on this half-day private tour.

What we’ll do

We meet at your hotel, and set off by taxi to Nanzenji Temple, at the foothills of the Higashiyama mountains that Ogawa Jihei so often used as a backdrop to his gardens. We take in the sights from the top of the temple’s four-century old gate. Then we explore a 14th century garden within the temple complex to understand how water was used in gardens built back then. Stroll around the Meiji-era aqueduct that made Ogawa’s gardens possible, then take a coffee break at a cafe-restaurant with a garden built by Ogawa’s great-great grandson.

We then enter the Ogawa-designed Murin-an, where you will be immersed in a world of lush moss, views of mountains and water trickling all around. Here you will see how Ogawa put aside symbology found in more traditional gardens to embrace the naturalism that so adored. Finally we find ourselves in Ogawa’s masterpiece, the Heian Shrine Gardens. Built over the period of two decades to commemorate the 1,100th anniversary of the founding of Kyoto, this vast garden with flowers that bloom in every season remains one of the city’s most magnificent strolling gardens.

What you’ll learn

Ogawa Jihei VII is regarded as one of Kyoto’s most eminent modern garden designers. On this tour you’ll learn how industrialisation and westernisation during the Meiji era made his works possible, and how he strove to preserve a Japanese feel in spite of the changes that consumed his world.

What’s included

  • All tickets

  • Coffee or tea at a historic cafe-restaurant

  • Pickup by taxi from your hotel (within Kyoto City limits)

8:30AM - 12:30PM

For up to 7 persons
Guided walk in English
4 hours total