Kyoto State Guest House Unleashes Japanese Classical Aesthetics And Art

yoto, once the imperial capital of Japan for over a thousand years, holds a diverse cultural heritage that makes this city, located in the Honshu region, a major tourist attraction across the globe.

Surrounded by ancient palaces and temples, Kyoto is likened to a historical garden of Japan due to the combination of natural landscapes and preserved   classical Japanese architecture.

Serving as Japan’s administrative centre from 794 to 1868, before the capital moved to Tokyo, Kyoto played a significant role in preserving its centuries-old heritage and enduring and unique traditional arts such as textile weaving, carpentry, and Geisha entertainers. The city is where the heartbeat of traditional Japan still resonates.

The writer had the opportunity to immerse in the beauty of the city while covering the official visit of Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Johari Abdul last month at the invitation of the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Japan, Fukushiro Nukaga.

 Due to a tight schedule, the writer could only experience the ambience of Kyoto for a day, but was still fortunate to stay at the Kyoto State Guest House, which serves as an official accommodation for state guests.



The experience of staying at the Kyoto State Guest House alone provides a clear depiction of Kyoto's nostalgic charm, which is fully illustrated throughout this guest house.

Many are still unaware that this guest house is open all year round to the public and tourists, provided it is not being used for official events, such as welcoming foreign guests.

Located in one of Japan's major attractions, the Kyoto State Guest House resembles a gallery that embraces the traditional artistry of Kyoto in every corner of the accommodation, from its landscape, decorations, furniture, and finishes.

Built in 2005, the guest house, nestled within the Kyoto Gyoen National Garden, features an irimoya-style roof with a sukiya-style exterior commonly used in traditional Japanese homes.

Director-General of the Kyoto State Guest House, Akiteru Mikami, said that the combination of these styles was unified to ensure harmony with the historic landscape and natural surroundings of the guest house.

Spanning 20,000 square metres, each guest is greeted with the beauty of contemporary Japanese style and the simple finish of its main door, made from Zelkova Serrata or more commonly known as Japanese Elm, which is estimated at around 700 years old.

Upon entering the main lobby or Juraku-no-Ma, guests will surely be captivated by the ikebana flower arrangements, crafted to reflect the tastes of the guests and the characteristics of their respective countries.

Besides the flower arrangements, ikebana also embodies the Japanese philosophy of simplicity, balance, and harmony with nature, with each arrangement utilising materials such as leaves, branches, stones, and sand.

In the Juraku-no-Ma area, one can also observe the furniture finishes made using traditional Kyoto carpentry skills and seating upholstered with deep red nishijin fabric, creating a comfortable atmosphere.

As guests walk through the corridors, they can see the floorboards made of Japanese Elm, specially designed to be scratch-resistant.

This area does not use curtains but instead windows fitted with shoji screen panels, which    truly highlight the Japanese aesthetic values.

Shoji screens or traditional Japanese sliding doors made of translucent washi paper with wooden or bamboo frames serve as room dividers, providing privacy for guests.



Traditionally, foreign guests staying at this guest house are hosted in Fuji-no-Ma, the largest room, with walls adorned with carpets depicting 39 types of flowers woven using the tsuzure-ori technique, injecting an element of grandeur into the space that can accommodate up to 120 people at a time.

According to Mikami, the carpet fabric, measuring 3.1 metres long and 16.6 metres wide, was produced by about 15 weavers who took approximately one year and seven months to complete this fine work of art.

Another fascinating space is Kiri-no-Ma, a Japanese-style banquet room equipped with 56 tatami mats used to host esteemed guests with authentic Kyoto cuisine while enjoying the spectacular view of the Japanese Garden from their seats.

Guests are usually entertained with classical Japanese dance performances by Geishas, traditional Japanese entertainers, who are synonymous with Japanese culture.

These iconic entertainers typically wear brightly coloured and elegant kimonos and distinctive makeup - white face powder, red eye shadow and bright red lipstick. Geisha hairstyles, characterised by neatly styled hair buns, are an integral aspect of the rich cultural tapestry of Japan, seamlessly blending tradition, artistry and elegance.

The Japanese Garden is the main attraction because it combines three natural elements: plants, stones, and water, highlighting beauty and providing a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere.

There are various types of trees, including pine and cherry, decorated with natural pebbles, a waterfall, and a large pond home to about 140 koi fish of various colours.

Additionally, there is a bridge for visitors to cross the pond, and they can also use the provided boat to capture the picturesque landscape of the surrounding area.

Even more exciting is that when crossing the bridge at night, visitors have the opportunity to see the soft golden light reflected from the sliding paper doors into the pond, making the main building of the Kyoto State Guest House appear as if it is floating.

Those interested in visiting the Kyoto State Guest House can visit, for solo tours or with a tour guide who will provide further information on the guest house.


Translated by Salbiah Said

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