Visiting Iwate Prefecture’s World Heritage Site, “Hiraizumi”

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Written by Editorial department

“Hiraizumi – Temples, Gardens, and Archaeological Sites Representing the Buddhist Pure Land” was registered as a World Heritage Site in 2011. It is composed of five parts, all located within Hiraizumi Town of Iwate Prefecture: Chuson-ji Temple, Motsu-ji Temple, Kanjizaioin Ato, Muryokoin Ato, and Mt. Kinkeisan. This article will introduce each of these five locations.

1. Chuson-ji Temple

Chuson-ji Temple is in possession of over 3000 national treasures and Important Cultural Properties. The national treasure “Konjiki-do,” which is decorated with gold leaf, is particularly famous among them. The temple has been designated as a National Special Historic Site.

中尊寺、本堂
Konjiki-do Ooi-do

2. Motsu-ji Temple

Motsu-ji Temple is a National Special Historic Site that has also been designated as a special scenic spot. The highlight of the temple is the Pure Land Garden, which was built around a large pond on the temple’s grounds. The expansive and stunning garden is said to represent the Ultimate Bliss of Pure Land.

Pure Land Garden
Pure Land Garden
Address
58 Aza Osawa, Hiraizumi, Hiraizumi-cho, Nishiiwai-gun, Iwate
Official Website
Official Website (English)

3. Kanjizaioin Ato

Kanjizaioin Ato is the ruins of a temple said to have been commissioned by the wife of Fujiwara no Motohira. The Pure Land Garden is centered around Maizurugaike Pond, with Kinkeizan behind it. Kanjizaioin Ato has been designated as a National Special Historic Site.

Kanjizaioin Ato
Kanjizaioin Ato
Address
Shirayama, Hiraizumi, Hiraizumi-cho, Nishiiwai-gun, Iwate
Official Website
Official Website (English)

4. Muryokoin Ato

Muryokoin Ato is the ruins of a temple built by Hidehira Fujiwara. The temple’s Amida-do is said to have been built in the image of the Phoenix Hall of Byodo-in Temple in Kyoto. The Pure Land Garden’s garden pond has been restored as the remaining area of the temple.

Muryokoin Ato
Muryokoin Ato
Address
44 Hanadate, Hiraizumi, Hiraizumi-cho, Nishiiwai-gun, Iwate
Official Website
Official Website (English)

5. Mt. Kinkeisan

Mt. Kinkeisan is a conical mountain that is the symbol of Hiraizumi, with the Pure Land Gardens of Motsu-ji Temple, Kanjizaioin Ato, and Muryokoin Ato all centered around their views of the mountain. There are many folktales about the mountain, including that mountain was raised in one night by Hidehira Fujiwara and that a golden statue of a cockerel is buried on the mountain.

Summit of Mt. Kinkeisan
Summit of Mt. Kinkeisan
Address
Hanadate, Hiraizumi, Hiraizumi-cho, Nishiiwai-gun, Iwate
Official Website
Official Website (English)