Additional panel exhibit in the Western-style House: Mr. Aritomo Yamagata’s Garden Vision

April 1, 2016 – Additional panels about Mr. Aritomo Yamagata’s “Garden Vision” are exhibited in the Western-style House. The panels introduce the aesthetic sense of beauty and taste that the former owner and designer of this garden had. We hope you will visit the exhibit.




Western-style House 1-Floor Entrance

 Murin-an is a Japanese villa and garden desinated as a National Place of Scenic Beauty. In 2007, Kyoto City implemented the designated management system. The aim was to change from conducting minimal maintenance to finding a management that complements the goals of the facility. The review and selection of proposals allows for services and facility care to increase.

 Ueyakato Landscape Co., Ltd. has proposed and practiced a fostering management system that increases the aesthetic values of Murin-an and the garden. The principle is based upon searching for the “intended value and design” of Murin-an. In other words, the goal is to respect Aritomo Yamagata’s sense of garden beauty and intended scenery when the garden was first made (Meiji Period), while incorporating necessary changes to harmonize with today’s environmental and social changes. Thus the goal at Murin-an is a to “Foster a Living Garden.”

 The contents of the exhibit on the 1-floor and the 2-floor are different.

 The 1-floor exhibit introduces the “intended value and design” of Murin-an based on research results and the various method used by the garden craftsmen in the care and fostering of this garden.

 The 2-Floor exhibit, here was where the Murin-an Meeting was held, where the nation’s foreign policy during the Meiji Period was decided. Enjoy imagining the life of Aritomo Yamagata (former site owner) through this exhibit. Our hope is that the exhibit will deepen your garden experience and appreciation of Murin-an.

 We hope you will visit these exhibits.


Western-style House 1-Floor Exhibit Room

1-Floor Exhibit Highlights

1. Clear revitalization

— Fostering method of garden care at Murin-an

 The garden of Murin-an was created originally with the Higashiyama Mountains as the central point, shuzan (where the garden is a continuation of the mountain view). It was a well-known as a designated place of scenic beauty with a sunny open Lawn Area and a flowing stream provided by the Lake Biwa Canal. In 1907,  it was so renouned that a famous critic, Mr. Tengai Kuroda (黒田讓), wrote that all gardens from here-on will use Murin-an as a motif in the Kōko Kaishinroku 『続江湖快心録』 (Record of Pleasant Scenes in and around the Capital) printed by Yamada Unsodo (山田芸艸堂). However, over a course of 100-years, the true essence of the garden became vague and the once strongly presence of the Higashiyama Mountains became obscure by the surrounding trees.

 Through close examination of past articles and photographs, we have gathered and interpreted Aritomo Yamagata’s garden vision and sensibility. First we compared the garden landscape when it was first created with that of today. Here, we hope to convey a piece of the key artifacts and our efforts in revitalizing the true aesthetic scenery of Murin-an.

 Please notice how clearly Murin-an was revitalized back as a “shuzan” type of garden, where the Higashiyama Mountains are the central-focus and the garden is a complimentary continuation of the aesthetic scenery of the mountains.


Garden View in 1935


Before (March 2007)


After (November 2013)

The relationship of the garden to the Higashiyama Mountains

2. Cherishing and Passing-down the Vision

— Aritomo Yamagata’s garden vision


庭園内 「恩賜稚松の記」

Within the garden is the “Onshi Chisho-no-Ki” Monument Stone. (「御賜稚松乃記」 The monument of the pine gifted from the Emperor)






When spring is nearing it’s end, the scenery is most exquisite, for the mountains become evermore scenic. In summer …. 

 Etched on the monument stone is a song or poem by Aritomo Yamagata that depicts his garden sensibility.

 The words on this monument are the foundation to the garden fostering and care that is conducted  and furthermore, allows us to grasp the aesthetic sense of beauty and garden taste the former owner had.

 Aritomo Yamagata and Jihei Ogawa (7th generation) worked closely together in creating the garden at Murin-an. They broke free from the trendy “pond” and “moss” (at that time), to create an avant-garde garden using “flowing stream” and “lawn.”

 It is believed to express the changing aesthetic sense of beauty of the people from the Meiji Period to the modern era.

 Please enjoy deciphering the poem (song) of the 4-seasons of Murin-an.

3. Imagine, Then Implementation

— Fostering the wildflowers


Conducting “metsumi” (picking off buds)

 In the standard maintenence process to preserve a Japanese garden, any naturally growing plants (grass and weeds) are extracted. However, in the garden of Murin-an we strive to conduct a method of garden care through fostering that reflects the intended garden design and aesthetic scenery of Aritomo Yamagata (former owner). Hence, natural wildflowers are cherished and properly cared for so that they may bloom beautifully. Currently, there are roughly 50 kinds of wildflowers in this garden. They vary from types the leave seeds to types that need to be maintained, each have their own fostering care menu that guide our care for the wildflowers. For example: in order to control the amount of blooming flowers the following year, a certain amount of new buds will be picked-off by hand. This require tremendous amount of concentration as we scan and pick-out new buds that are shorter than 3 cm. The exhibit will introduce an example of this method.

 Even today, garden fostering and care is conducted as part of the year-round passionate management that we pour into Murin-an.


庭園の芝地 マツバウンランの咲く頃

Lawn Area at Murin-an: blue toad-flax or matsubaunran (Nuttallanthus canadensis)


4. Conversation With Water

— The water and villa clusters neighboring the Higashiyama Mountains.

 The water flowing in the garden of Murin-an has a special story.

 In 1890, the Lake Biwa Canal (aquaduct) was opened in the Okazaki and Nanzen-ji neighborhood. After the Emperor left Kyoto, the Lake Biwa Canal was opened in hopes to revitalize the city. It is said that in celebration, the people lit the side of Daimonji Mountain with giant bonfires in the shapes of kanji (Chinese characters). The canal was to provide watermill power to the Okazaki neighborhood to create an industrial area, but with the decision to introduce hydroelectric power, the need to create an industrial cluster was no longer necessary since electricity would be delivered. In order to preserve the aesthetic scenery of the Okazaki and Nanzen-ji neighborhood, Kyoto City decided to create a villa cluster predominently of the wealthy class. The Murin-an garden is also renouned as a villa garden that brings in water from the Lake Biwa Canal for its’ waterfall and stream. It might be interesting to examine and image which gardens are conncected to Murin-an via the Lake Biwa Canal. By learning more about the history behind the canal, your perspective of water and streams in Kyoto may change.

2-Floor Exhibit Highlights

Strain your ear to the voice of the past…

— The room where the “Murin-an Meeting” was held

 April 21, 1903 – in the midst of high tension between the Russion Empire, the “Murin-an Meeting” was held here in the 2-floor of the Western-style House. The four men who attended the meeting were Aritomo Yamagata (Elder Statesman), Hirobumi Ito (Rikken Seiyu-kai committee member), Taro Katsura (Prime Minister of Japan), and Juntaro Komura (Minister of Foreign Affairs). The men discussed the important future of the nation’s foreign policy, which became noted as an extremely important event in history. The 2-floor western-style room is kept as it was back when the meeting was held. We wonder what these men of political power in the Meiji Period thought and felt when they gathered in this room. We hope you can enjoy taking a leap into the historic past and for a moment, forget about reality.

洋館2階 無鄰菴会議の行われた部屋

Western-style House (2-Floor) Room where the Murin-an Meeting was held.

洋館2階 山県有朋の椅子

Western-style House (2-Floor) Mr. Aritomo Yamagata’s chair