Built by Tokogawa Ieyasu, the first of the Tokugawa shoguns, it was intended as a residence but quickly abandoned when the family relocated to Edo (Tokyo). After the Meiji restoration in 1868, Nijo became an imperial villa but it was given to the City of Kyoto in 1939.
Iemitsu (3rd Tokugawa shogun) was responsible for hiring Kobori Enshu to renovate the garden and expand the buildings in 1624 in preparation for a visit by Emperor Gomizuno(1596-1680). This renovation was not the last, however, and Ninomaru Teien has undergone several alterations since then. At times the large, central lake has been a 'dry garden' though it is not known if this was the original design. The garden is about one acre in size and lies southwest of the castle, itself.
It is possible to stroll in the garden, but the best views were designed to be seen from the buildings.
There is an older section, called Honmaru-jo, on the western half of the site; only the foundation of the remains after it burned in the 1800's
Although the scene
At Osawa-ike is old,
The same bright autumn moon
Casts down its lucide light.
Ike no keshiki wa
Furi yuke do
Aki no yo tsuki
Fujiwara no Shunzei (1114-1204) Shinzoku kokin wakashû trans. by M.V. Otake