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
It has been said that there are landscapes one can walk trhough, landscapes one can walk throug, landscapes which can be gazed upon, landscapes in which one can dwell… Those fit for walking through or being gazed upon are not equal to those in which one may dwell or ramble. Kuo His painter, Northern Sung