The one garden built by two different people in two different eras
Taking into consideration the many historically significant cultural assets and structures from over a thousand years ago, Isuien Park, which was built in the 17th century, may be thought of as being a more recent property.
With Mt. Wakakusa in the background, the park is a soothing world with features such as the pond and hills delicately positioned and the old teahouse that was moved there. After thoroughly enjoying the World Heritage cultural properties and gaining some tranquility, you will most likely treasure the time that you spend at Isuien Park. One feature at the traditional Japanese garden that is Isuien is that you are able to enjoy the front garden and rear garden that were built by two different people in two different eras.
The front garden that spreads out at the entrance of the garden proper was constructed in the early Edo Era in 1670 by Michikiyo Kiyosumi, a tanner from Nara. A thatched-roof house known as Sanshuu-tei was placed by the pond there as a place to enjoy sencha tea (a lighter tea than matcha). At the pond, stones representing a crane and tortoise, symbols of longevity, have been placed as small islands, and with the inclusion of stone lanterns, there is a feeling of an Edo Era garden. Currently, Sanshuu-tei has become a restaurant where you can enjoy a meal while viewing the garden.
The rear garden was constructed during the Meiji Era (around the late 19th century) by businessman Tojiro Seki as a place to enjoy the tea ceremony and poetry readings. It was built around a pond using the technique of shakkei (borrowed landscape) to bring alive the nature of Mt. Wakakusa and Mt. Kasuga in the background along with Nandaimon Gate of Todai-ji Temple and some man-made hills. The freely spreading landscape was deliberately and skillfully constructed as a scene to completely fill your eyes right up to the reflection on the pond’s surface. The sound and sensation of the waterfall built at the back of the pond are also wonderful, and the whole garden is something to enjoy the changing impressions of the scenery as you walk through it. Isuien Park is just that refined place for that serenity and peace of mind.
Also, the 3 teahouses that are placed to link the two gardens are also splendid. Hyoshin-tei is good to stop by for that breather as you sip on matcha tea while viewing the garden.
The two gardens were bought by Junsaku Nakamura, who had made his success in the shipping industry, and put them together to form Isuien Park. Nakamura was also famed as a collector of ancient art, and within the park grounds, he established Neiraku Museum where an East Asian collection of ancient art is on display thanks to 3 generations of the Nakamura family.
Please come and visit Isuien Park in Nara, itself a city full of places to see. It’s good to visit during that tour of World Heritage sites and catch your breath.