Author: Cyril Bele
Date: 26 March 2008
This image shows a part of the villa where guests were entertained from a bridge. The entire site shows a deep intertwining of man-made structures with nature. The building is surrounded by trees like those from which its beams and washi panels are made, and the walkways and bridges melt into the garden beds and lawns, with moss even growing on the stone bridge itself. The villa’s design is symbolic of the family that inhabited it. The simplicity of the structure is suited for the imperial family, who were not politically powerful, and had no need to show off their wealth and power. The Emperor was also a spiritual leader who would have needed to show virtues like modesty, and this is reflected in his home. Finally, the conjoining of buildings with nature, and the use of wabisabi principles to mirror natural beauty in manmade structures reflects that the Emperor, the heir to the Shinto goddess Amaterasu, is deeply connected to Shintoism: a religion that believes the spirits of the gods inhabit every stone, tree, and flower, and thus places great importance on natural landscapes. That the Emperor inhabits such a beautiful natural scene would prove his divinity.
Source: Cyril Bele via Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Katsura6.jpg