As unlikely as it may seem, within the Western-inspired drawing room of Murin-an's pretty European-style house four men set about changing Japan's foreign policy forever. Their actions were to lead to war with Imperial Russia, and it was this overwhelming and surprising victory that gave Japan a foothold in China. Wishing to mirror the West's colonial successes, Japan from this moment on took a road that would lead to world war and the briefest of Empires before almost utter destruction and the dawning of the nuclear age. The elderly statesman Aritomo Yamagata, the president of the Rikken Seiyukai Party Hirobumi Ito, Prime Minister Taro Katsura and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Jutaro Komura spent only a few hours creating a brand new foreign policy for the country, something that would endure for half a century. Their actions were at first glorious and finally uncontrollably disastrous.
Aritomo built the small garden between 1894 and 1896, and the name literally means 'calm place without houses around it'. The famous landscape architect Jihee Ogawa constructed the strolling garden from Aritomo's instructions. Although small, the garden borrows scenery from the mountains of Higashiyama behind and remains an oasis of calm although now pincered by a main road.