The Westin Miyako Kyoto
Mt. Kachō stands behind the Westin Miyako Hotel Kyoto. Mt. Kachō is also the honorific mountain name prefixed to Chion-ji Temple, the head temple of the Buddhist Jodo sect, located fairly close to Nanzen-ji.
The Miyako Hotel and garden was built to serve many famous people ranking as national guests since a long time ago. The hotel was built in 1890 (Meiji 23), the same year the first canal of the Lake Biwa Canal was completed. In commemoration of the Meiji Emperor making an appearance at the canal’s opening ceremony, the garden was originally named Yoshimizu-en Garden. In 1893 (Meiji 28), the Fourth National Industrial Exhibition was held in Okazaki, Kyoto City. When Tessai Tomioka (artist) visited Yoshimizu-en Garden, he chose the Yoshimizu Eight Scenic Spots which were then drawn by Kyoko Taniguchi and became a famous place loved by many scholars. Then in 1899 (Meiji 32), the facility was constructed to be a full-scale hotel, and the following year 1900 (Meiji 33), the hotel was named Miyako Hotel. Since then, many foreigners came to stay, so the facility was expanded. In 1907 (Meiji 40) it became the main hotel for Dai Nihon Hotel Co., Ltd. Furthermore in 1915 (Taisho 4), it was succeeded into establishing the Miyako Hotel Ltd., which still exists today.
Thus the hotel sits on the slope of Mt. Kachō overlooking Kyoto City and uses the landscape to its advantage. The famous architecture, Tōgo Murano, designed many of the facilities for the Miyako Hotel chain at that time. This is not just a hotel, but a facility that is well received by the community and one of Kyoto’s famous places.
The Miyako Hotel company has a history of over 100 years and has many wonderful garden. Yet here, there are two gardens registered as Special Places of Scenic Beauty under cultural properties of the City of Kyoto. Jihei Ogawa (7th generation Ueji) created the Aoi-den garden and Ueji’s son, Yasutaro (Hakuyo), created the Kasui-en Garden. Please view the page below for more information about each garden.
The garden faces the Aoi-den that has the main dining hall, which was build in 1915 (Taisho 4). In 1933 (Showa 8), was when a full-scale garden was created by Jihei Ogawa (7th generation Ueji), who is not only famous in Kyoto but a nationally renowned garden craftsman.
From the begining, Ueji was involed in creating gardens for the Miyako Hotel, but this garden for the Aoiden annex was the garden Ueji was working on up till his death and hence became his final creative work. The garden shows characteristics of Ueji’s style everywhere, in places such as the tall trees focusing on maples, the use of water from the Lake Biwa Canal, using the slope of the mountain to create a dynamic waterfall rock arrangement, and the striking design of layed stones in the stream and the pond. Not only is this garden a priceless work of Ueji’s garden style, but it is also proof that Ueji was actively creating gardens until his death. Since 2013 (Heisei 25), working to maintain the garden’s original landscape by managing reconstructive work of the waterfall called Kumoi-no-Taki and all along the stone arrangement with water flow.
In 1926 (Taisho 15), the Kasui-en Garden was originally created as the Giju-an Villa garden for Count Keigo Kiyoura. Later, Giju-an was renovated into Kasui-en by Tōgo Murano, and so the garden became part of Kasui-en and exists to this day.
The creator of this garden was Ueji’s son, Yasutaro Ogawa (Hakuyu). Hakuyu was especially skilled at using stone, such as constructing with stone and stones arrangements. After the garden for Giju-an was completed, he passed away young in 1926, the year the name of the era changed to the first year of the Showa era.
The garden uses exposed bedrock in its natural form to create two waterfalls, which is the center of the garden. Around the garden various plants such as smooth Japanese maple (Acer palmatum), Japanese andromeda (Pieris japonica), and Kirishima azalea (Rhododendron indicum) were planted. This garden is a priceless landscape that not only reflects Ueji’s skills and techniques being inherited by Hakuyu, but also shows Hakuyu’s architectural garden style that is different than Ueji’s style.