The Konjiki-do, Golden Hall, is housed within this building
Hiraizumi, created as a Buddhist heaven on earth over 1,000 years ago, was declared a World Heritage site in June 2012. Its temples, gardens and buildings were recognized as a rare example of a cultural legacy that is deeply permeated with a universal longing for peace - but its roots lie in a land ravaged by war.
The UNESCO recognition also came at a poignant time for Iwate Prefecture, which was hard hit by the Tohoku earthquake in March 2011, where thousands of lives were lost. This is the first such UNESCO site in the Tohoku area and the 16th in Japan.
Hiraizumi was founded by the Oshu Fujiwara clan in a bid to fulfill their longing for permanent peace and the achievement of the ideal Buddhist territory.
The dramatic rise and fall of the city - once said to rival Kyoto - within a 100 years inspired the famous haiku master Matsuo Basho to compose several now classic haikus after he visited the remains of Hiraizumi town.
So, just what does this heaven on earth comprise of? It consist of five designated sites, the Konjiki-do (Golden Hall) within Chusonji Temple, Motsuji Temple, the remains of Kanjizai?-in and Muryoko-in and Mt. Kinkeisan. Here, we will introduce Chusonji and Motsuji, and Mt. Kinkeisan.
Famous haiku master, Matsuo Basho , on visiting the ruins of Hiraizumi, penned: Ah! Summer grass! All that remains/Of the warriors' dreams.
This is the cornerstone of the UNESCO designated sites. A climb up the Tsukimi-zaka Slope lined with 300- to 400-year-old cedar trees will bring you to the Konjiki-do (Golden Hall) portion of Chusonji Temple. This is the only temple remaining from the 12th century and was built by the founder of Hiraizumi, Fujiwara no Kiyohira to memorialize all living things that died in Tohoku during the power struggle from which he emerged victorious from.
contains the mummies of three generations of the founding Fujiwara clan.
The Konjiki-do is a mausoleum for four generations of the founding Fujiwara clan
The main attraction here is the picture perfect and expansive Jodo garden which has stood for some 800 years. The Buddhist philosophy of Jodo states that it is “expansive without end and everything there is beautiful”. The garden here was created to depict the scenery described in the sutra using the Heian era garden landscaping technique. The center piece here is the Oizumi ga Ike, a pond measuring 180m in the east-west direction.
The garden at the Motsuji Temple is meant to represent the Buddhist philosophy of Jodo, or the Pure Land.
This 98.6m high mount located between Chosonji and Motsuji is said to have a golden chicken and rooster, after which it is named, buried at its peak as protectors of the city. When Matsuo Basho visited Hiraizumi, he sadly remarked that only Mt. Kinkeisan retains its form after the surrounding temples and buildings were razed to the ground.
Mt. Kinkeisan is said to have a golden chicken and rooster buried at its peak.
2h 33min from Tokyo to Ichinoseki Station by Tohoku Shinkansen Line.