A temple has existed on this site from as early as 900 AD. Today, it is the headquarters temple of the Yamashina school of Shingon Buddhism. The large pond here, also known as hamuro-no-ike is the main attraction of this garden. While today it is known for its lotus, water lilies and irises, originally, this was probably the main element of a much larger pond and hill garden on the estate of Miyamichi Iemasu, a member of the Heian aristocracy and connected through marriage to the powerful Fujiwara family.
The temple was estroyed in 1470 during war and then later restored by the Tokugawa family and the Imperial Household. Successive head priests have been drawn directly from the Imperial family. Mito Mitsukuni (popularly known as Mito Komon) is said to have donated the stone lantern in front of the Shoin.
The garden would originally have been used for boating and poem-writing parties, but today one can still stroll through the site.
Take the Kyoto Subway Tozai Line: Ono Station - walk 6 minutes
Free parking: 8 buses & 50 cars
Japan a great stone garden in the sea.
Echoes of hoes and weeding,
Centuries of leading hill-creeks down
To ditch and pool in fragile knee deep fields.
Leafy sunshine rustling on a man
Chipping a foot-square rough hinoki beam;
I thought I heard an axe chop in the woods
It broke the dream; and woke up dreaming on a train.
It must have been a thousand years ago
In some old mountain sawmill of Japan.
A horde of excess poets and unwed girls
And I that night prowled Tokyo like a bear
Tracking the human future
Of intelligence and despair.