World Heritage / Hiraizumi - Temples, Gardens and Archaeological Sites Representing the Buddhist Pure Land

Criteria: (ii) (vi) | Date of Inscription: 2011 | Location: Iwate Prefecture | Justification for Inscription



Peaceful Ideal World Established by the Oshu Fujiwara Family.

Kanjizaio-in Ato
Kanjizaio-in Ato
Ennen no Mai
Ennen no Mai
Hiraizumi in Iwate Prefecture was established by the Oshu Fujiwara family at the end of 11th century. During the reign of four generations of the Fujiwara family - Kiyohira, Motohira, Hidehira and Yasuhira - the area was the political and administrative center of the northern realm of Japan and rivaled Kyoto, the capital of Japan at that time. The area prospered from trade with the central government, the northern areas of Japan, and China.

The area around present-day Hiraizumi has various Buddhist temples and gardens built by the Oshu Fujiwara family. The construction of the temples and gardens was based on the cosmology of Pure Land Buddhism, an earthly representation of the pure land of Buddha to which people aspire after death, and provide peace of mind on earth. Buddhism was imported from ancient China and Korea and, in combination with indigenous Japanese nature worship and Shintoism, Pure Land Buddhism was developed that adapted a concept of garden design that is unique to Japan. This uniqueness is the reason Hiraizumi is recognized as a Cultural Heritage site. This is the first Cultural Heritage site in the Tohoku region.

Chuson-ji Temple has many national treasures and important cultural properties that include the Konjiki-do Hall (national treasure) that was completed in 1124. The garden of Motsu-ji Temple is a classic depiction of the Pure Land. Kanjizaio-in Temple site, Muryoko-in Temple site, Mt. Kinkeisan, and other historical spots are also included in the World Cultural Heritage site. Pure Land Buddhism beliefs can still be seen today in religion rituals and performance folk-art in Hiraizumi.
Fujiwara Kiyohira
Fujiwara Kiyohira, who established Hiraizumi, survived two wars. He lost his father in the first war and lost his wife and children in the second one. His anguish from these wars led him to establish the Pure Land in Hiraizumi.

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