The history of Yosui-en is said to begin when Hosokawa Mitsumoto, deputy to Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, third shogun of the Muromachi period(1333-1603), built his residence here. When Hosokawa died in 1426, his residence was remade into a Buddhist temple named Gansu-in Temple.
What Yosui-en looked like during its history as Gansu-in Temple is not clear. However, extant records reveal that between 1521-28, a full century after Hosokawa’s death, it became a temporary residence for Ashikaga Yoshiharu, the Muromachi period’s twelfth shogun, and that it had a garden on its premises that some people would visit for sightseeing.
Thereafter, it is thought to have been devastated amidst Japan’s protracted period of civil war during the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. At the turn of the seventeenth century, Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu gave Gansu-in Temple’s grounds to Goto Chojo, second son of the Goto family, a family of metalworkers going back several generations. It remained the site of the Goto family residence until the Meiji period (1868-1912), and remnant drawings show that it had both a pond garden and a tearoom.
During the Meiji period, when Yosui-en was no longer owned by the Goto family, it changed hands several times, and its pond water appears to have dried up at some points. Since the refilling of the pond with water during large-scale repairs made during the Taisho period (1912-26), the garden has remained largely unchanged up until the present day.
The garden is a strolling pond-style garden with trees around its pond, such as weeping cherries, dogwoods, maples and white camellias, that flower during different seasons and convey a refined sense of taste.
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