Nison-in was founded by the Chief Abbot Ennin in 841. The temple eventually declined, and was restored about 400 years later by a disciple of Honen, the founder of the Jodo(Pure Land) sect.
Nison literally means two Buddhas who attained the enlightenment. One is Amida Buddha and another Shaka Buddha.
The graves of many historic figures are located here, including many court nobles, the Confucian scholar Ito Jinsai and his son, as well as Suminokura Ryoi, the merchant who opened a canal along the Oi River. Fujiwara-no-Teika is said to have compiled the famous collection of 100 poems by 100 poets(Hyakunin Isshu) in a hut stood on the side of Mt. Ogura.