[Kikokutei. Photo Ad Blankestijn]
Shosei Garden is supposed to go all the way back to a garden laid out here by a 9th c. Minister, Minamoto no Toru. It was given to the temple in 1631 by the Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu. It was at that time in part redesigned by Ishikawa Jozan (of Shisendo fame) and Kobori Enshu.
It has been landscaped in the go-round style, with various buildings arranged around a central pond, Ingetsu Pond.
The buildings in the garden - the villas of the Higashi Honganji abbots - are now all modern replica's as the originals were lost in a large fire in 1864. At that time, the garden was also severely damaged (also lost were the Jusankei or Thirteen Beautiful Landscapes that often are mentioned in poetry).
The picture above shows the central pond, Ingetsuchi, with Tonoshima, a nine-storied stone pagoda an a tiny island believed to be the tomb of Minamoto no Toru.
Access: 7 min walk east of Higashi Honganji. Kikokutei used to be graciously free, but now a 500 yen "donation" has been instituted.