Isuien Garden (a kaiyushiki garden [Japanese style garden with a path around a central pond] in Nara (依水園)

Isuien Garden is kaiyushiki garden located in Nara City, Nara Prefecture. It is a national-designated site of scenic beauty.


It is divided into two, the front garden and the rear garden, each of which presents different landscape. The front garden was designed and landscaped by Michikiyo KIYOSUMI, a bleacher in 1673 and there is a tea house 'Sanshu-tei' which symbolizes the garden. The rear garden is a Tsukiyama-style (a style of garden, arranged to show nature in miniature, with hills, ponds and streams) Chisen Kaiyu style garden (a style of Japanese garden with a path around a central pond and spring) established by Tojiro SEKI, a businessman in the Meiji period, which was landscaped by Soshitsu Yumyosai, the 12th Urasenke school. The garden made Nara no miyako (Nara, the ancient capital) a motif and was designed to benefit from its surrounding scenery including Mt. Wakakusa and Nandai-mon Gate (the great south gate) of Todai-ji Temple. Both bring water from the Yoshiki-gawa River, a tributary of the Yamato-gawa River. The Nakamura family which made a fortune in the shipping business purchased the garden in 1939 and developed it to a combined form of the front and the rear gardens. In 1969, Neiraku Art Museum was constructed to exhibit the artworks collected by the Nakamura family and opened to the public.

There are several views about the source of the name, 'Isuien' (Literally, 'Garden depending on water'). There are some opinions where the name is derived from, including from the fact that the pond water depends on the Yoshiki-gawa River, or the pond is shaped like the Chinese character 'Water' in the Sosho-tai (cursive style writing), or it was taken from a phrase 'Meien ha Ryokusui ni Yori' (The beautiful garden to go is spread along the green water) of a poem written by Toho (a Chinese poet), however, none of them is not certain.

Buildings in the garden

Sanshu-tei Tea House
Teishu-ken Tea House
Yagyu-do Tea House
Hyoshin-tei Tea House
Seishu-an Tea House
Neiraku Art Museum

Address and transportation

Address: 74, Suimon-cho, Nara City, Nara Prefecture
Access: 10-minute walk from the Kintetsu Nara Station of Kintetsu Nara Line

Nearby spots

Yoshikien Garden (Adjacent)
Nara-koen Park

[Original Japanese]