Legend has it that, at the end of the Jinshin succession war in 672, Prince Ōama, who was to become Emperor Tenmu, was injured in the back by an arrow, but was healed in a kamaburo of the area, a steam bath. The name of the area, Yase, is said to have originated from this episode, on the grounds that, depending on how one writes it, the word can both mean “eight shallows of a river” and “arrow and spine”.
This hermitage became a possession of the Meiji era politician and businessman Tanaka Gentarō (1853-1922) and was named Kikaku-tei by nobleman and statesman Sanjō Sanetomi. Upon his death, it became a private villa for the executives of Kyoto Electric Light, one of the many businesses in which Gentarō had contributed establishing. New premises and gardens were built in the 1920’s and 30’s.
The tea-ceremony house and some of the original buildings on the property were built by Nakamura Sotoji, whereas the gardens are said to have been conceived by Sano Tōemon.