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Photo Collection: Kyoto State Guest House

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Kyoto State Guest House

The Main Gate and the Wall

The Kyoto State Guest House is surrounded by a type of roofed wall known as a tsuijibei, made of clay, which produces a truly dignified, traditional Japanese atmosphere.
The main gate is formed by combining the steel-frame pillars and beams with wooden roof which mixes modern building techniques and historical architectural styles.
When parties of foreign dignitaries arrive, their vehicle procession enters the grounds through the main gate.

The Main Entrance

The main doors are paneled with Zelkova wood cut in a massive single boards from a 700-year-old tree.
The guests are warmly welcomed here by burning incense and displaying the ikebana flower arrangement, which varies according to the seasons or the taste of the receiving guests.

The Garden (Japanese Garden)

The ancient architectural philosophy was known as teioku-ichinyo, or "oneness of house and garden". It has been an important part of the Japanese architectural and landscape aesthetic for a long time.
The pond is also home to the colorful carps known as "Nishiki-goi" and the guests enjoy feeding the carps from the bridge and spending a great time on a traditional boat in this pond.

Juraku no Ma (Anteroom) 聚楽の間

This room is used as the waiting room for invited guests and attendants while banquets are being held.
The name "Juraku" represents "peaceful and pleasurable mind" and "prosperous capital full of people". The term "Juraku" is best known for the official residence "Juraku-dai", which was built next to Nijo Castle in Kyoto in the 16th century.

Photo:Kyoto Gehinkan Yubae-no-Ma

Yubae no Ma (Large Conference Room) 夕映の間

This room is used for a variety of events, including ministerial meetings, ryurei-style tea ceremonies which use tables and chairs and welcoming ceremonies.
The name of this room comes from the titles of the tapestries on the walls, which were woven from the designs by a traditional Japanese painter, Mutsumasa Hakozaki.
The tapestry on the west side titled "Atago Yusho" depicts the sunset in Mt. Atago and the tapestry on the east side "Hiei Getsuei" depicts the moon's glow over the Mt. Hiei.

Fuji no Ma (Banquet Hall) 藤の間

It is the largest room in the Kyoto State Guest House. It is used for banquets, luncheons and welcoming ceremonies. Japanese traditional arts such as Noh theaters and Japanese dance are performed on the stage in this room so that the guests can appreciate during the banquet.
"Fuji" means wisteria, which is used as the main motif of grand tapestry titled "Reika" on the wall. "Reika" was woven from a design by a Japanese-style painter, Kiyomichi Shikami, and means "beautiful flowers" in English. In the language of flowers, wisteria means "welcome". It is the perfect symbol for a diplomatic place like the Kyoto State Guest House.

Kiri-no-Ma(Japanese-style Banquet Room)桐の間

This room is a Japanese-style banquet room with tatami mats. Up to 24 guests can enjoy Kyoto cuisine as well as traditional Japanese dance by Geiko and Maiko or Sokyoku which is the music played on the Koto(Japanese harp) to entertain the guests during the banquet.
"Kiri" means paulownia, which is used as main motif in this room. This paulownia motif is used in the Japanese government seal and the crest of Kyoto State Guest House.

Traditional Craftsmanship in the Kyoto State Guest House

Kyoto is the cradle of Japanese culture. While handing down the finest traditions, Kyoto has continued to accept advanced cultures and refine aesthetic awareness. Always at the leading edge of the era, Kyoto has inherited outstanding arts and skills. Many of these are expressed with modern sensibility in the Kyoto State Guest House. This State Guest House has a role in providing Japanese-style relaxing atmosphere for foreign dignitaries, and promoting the culture of Japan and Kyoto to the world with the spirit of Shitsurai (seasonal arrangements) and Omotenashi (hospitality) cultivated in Kyoto.

Tatami Mat Work

Tatami mats used here are made of rushes specially cultivated for the construction of the Kyoto State Guest House and created using a sophisticated technique come from an ancient method for weaving tatami called Nakatsugi Omote, in which only the best parts of the rushes are used and then connected together in the center.

Sukiya Style Carpentry

This is a traditional residential style of Japanese architecture that is based upon the technique used for building tea-houses. This sophisticated technique is employed in "Kiri no Ma" and other rooms.


Traditional Japanese urushi lacquer is made from the Japanese sumac tree. Surfaces lacquered with urushi deepen in color and refinement over time. Urushi lacquer is used for long table in "Kiri no Ma" and alcove frames in the State Guest House.
The table in Kiri no Ma is 12 meters long. In the final stage, the craftsmen polished the lacquer with their bare hands, until their palms were almost burned from the friction.


The clay walls made from a famous high-quality clay called Kyo-sabitsuchi, which just happened to be discovered on the grounds of the Kyoto State Guest House during excavations are found in "Kiri no Ma" and other rooms. Kyo-sabitsuchi is also used for the roofed wall called Tsuijibei surrounding the State Guest House. This clay is extremely fire-resistant and over time it takes on an incredibly unique texture.


Techniques are required to mount Japanese paper, Karakami (printed paper for sliding paper doors) and other kind of fabric onto sliding screens, sliding doors and walls.
These techniques are found in "Kiri no Ma", "Fuji no Ma", "Yubae no Ma" and other rooms.

Japanese Fittings

Japanese fittings such as sliding paper screens and sliding doors are indispensable for Japanese rooms. These fittings are found almost everywhere in the State Guest House.
The fittings used here are taller than usual ones in order to fit taller foreign guest's physique.

Stone Work

Several stone works such as stone lanterns, washbasins, steppingstones and other stone objects are placed in the garden of the Kyoto State Guest House. For example, stone lanterns as the indispensable element for Japanese gardens were introduced to Japan as one of Buddhist arts approximately 1,400 years ago. Stone works are also used for the stone at the "Wasen" boat landing place and a steppingstone at the entrance lobby in Kiri no Ma.

Bamboo fence

Traditional bamboo fences used here, such as Takehogaki (fence with bamboo ears), Kuromojigaki (spicebush fence), are made by the various methods which have a long and distinguished history. Bamboo fences give subtle additions to Japanese gardens and can be used to divide the garden as well as to conceal the view.

Kazari-Kanamono (Decorative Metal Fittings)

Decorative metal fittings are used to reinforce architectural elements and provide decoration. These metal fittings can be found on metal nail covers, sliding door knobs and other furnishings in roughly 600 places throughout the Kyoto State Guest House.

Kirikane (Cut Gold Leafing)

Kirikane is a traditional decorative technique which was introduced to Japan from China in the 7th century and now is only practiced in Japan. The stage doors in "Fuji no Ma" and the wooden transom in "Kiri no Ma" are decorated using this technique by the late Sayoko Eri, who was designated as a living national treasure.

What is the Kyoto State Guest House?

Public Opening of the Kyoto State Guest House

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Movie:Kyoto State Guest House
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