Often overlooked by the hordes that descend on the Higashiyama area, this elegant villa was the home of prominent statesman Yamagata Aritomo (1838–1922) and the site of a pivotal 1903 political conference as Japan was heading into the Russo-Japanese War. Built in 1896, the grounds contain well-preserved wooden buildings, including a fine Japanese tearoom. The Western-style annexe is characteristic of Meiji-period architecture and the serene garden features small streams that draw water from the Biwa-ko Sosui canal.
For ¥600 you can savour a bowl of frothy matcha (powdered green tea) with a sweet while viewing the shakkei backdrop of the Higashiyama Mountains. It’s particularly beautiful in the maple-leaf season of November.