300 bce - 300ce - Yayoi Period
260 bce - Shrine at Ise established. The first, and single most important sacred space in Japan. This Shinto Shrine demonstrates the most ancient Japanese architectural style and spiritual connection to nature.
300 - 552 - Kofun Period
552 - 710 - Asuka Period
710 - 794 - Nara Period
Imperial Court begins importing philosophy, art, political thought and aesthetics from Tang Dynasty China.
794 - 1185 - Heian Period
794 - Founding of Heiankyo (later called Kyoto) by Emperor Kammu. The classical period of Japanese court culture begins soon after; generally called Heian. At first, this culture is heavily influenced by Chinese Imperial culture, but later progresses independently and peaks in the 11th century. Garden and villa design is refined into what will be considered the classic style as courtiers try to out-do each other in the construction of their homes.
1050(?) - Tachibana no Toshitsuna writes the Sakuteiki, a practical manual on garden design. It includes extensive suggestions for geomantic placement of objects as well as aesthetic advice.
1185 - 1333 - Kamakura Period
1191 - Buddhist priest Eisai introduces the tea ceremony to Japan.
1256/1344 - Muso Soseki designs the garden at Tenryu-ji in Kyoto. Muso is considered one of the greatest zen garden designers of all time.
1333 - 1568 - Muromachi Period
1397 - Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu builds Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Pavilion) as his retirement villa outside of Kyoto.
1423 - 1502 - Shuko Murata. A noted zen monk and tea master, Murata begins the movement of wabi-cha which will become cha-do; the way of tea.
1568 - 1600 - Momoyama Period
1520 - 1591 - Sen no Rikyu. Rikyu becomes tea master to the regent Toyotomi Hidiyoshi and popularizes wabi-cha.
1600 - 1868 Edo Period
1700 (approx.) Garden designer Kobori Enshu is the first to use a low window (about 2-3 feet tall starting at the floor) for viewing a tsubo garden. One of the many Edo era developments that can be considered modern in feeling, even in the 20th century.