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The Cultural Heritage of Hiraizumi is composed of Chūson-ji, Mōtsū-ji, Muryōkō-in Ato, Kanjizaiō-in Ato, and Mt. Kinkeisan, and the surrounding areas. These five properties, a group of sites from the days of Hiraizumi's Golden Culture, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List. The Golden Culture flourished for about a century in the late Heian period, embodied by temples and Pure Land gardens which were influenced by the culture of the Capital, yet uniquely developed into a style of their own. They were recognized as unique examples of a provincial culture that flourished during the transitional period from antiquity to the middle ages. It is the first World Cultural Heritage site in Tōhoku area.

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Hiraizumi Tourist Information

Conveniently located in front of JR Hiraizumi Station, you can get all the information you need on Hiraizumi, such as things to see at each World Heritage property and other interesting spots and things to do. I took a picture with Omocchi, the mascot for southern Iwate, who joined me in introducing Hiraizumi's must-sees.
Address: 61-7 Izumiya, Hiraizumi, Hiraizumi-cho, Nishi Iwai-gun
Phone: 0191-46-2110 Hours: 8:30-17:00 Open every day See the website

(3 minutes by car)



( Special historic site; special place of scenic beauty )
Originally established in 850, Motsu-ji flourished during the peaceful Golden Culture which lasted for about a century under Motohira and Hidehira, the second and third lords of the Fujiwara clan. Motsu-ji was one of the most renowned spiritual places in Japan, with over 40 temple buildings, 500 monk residences, and the grand Kondo Enryuji Temple. Regrettably, none of the original structures remain today due to repeated fires; what remain today are sites of foundations, cornerstones, mounds, corridors, gates, and halls, as well as the site of Kondo Enryuji Temple. The Jokodo Hall we see today was rebuilt in 1732. There is a treasure museum with various displays such as Buddhist images, writings, craftwork, equipment used in the “Ennen no Mai” dance, and excavation data.
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(2 minutes on foot)


Kanjizaio-in Ato ( Former Kanjizaioin Garden )

( Special historic site; special place of scenic beauty )
This is Kanjizaio-in Ato, which once stood east of Motsu-ji Temple. Like Motsu-ji, it is an excellent example of a Pure Land garden. Kanjizaio-in is said to have been commissioned by the wife of Motohira, the second lord of the Fujiwara clan, under whom the peaceful Golden Culture blossomed in present-day southern Iwate. Unfortunately, it was lost to a fire in 1573, but the worship hall and one of the two Amida Halls, as well as Maizuru ga Ike ( Dancing Crane Pond ) , have been restored. Today, it is a serene historic site park, perfect for a walk or relaxation.
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(5 minutes by car)


Muryoko-in Ato

( Special historic site )
Muryoko-in was a temple built during the peaceful Golden Culture of the Oshu-Fujiwara clan, commissioned by the third lord Hidehira. It was a subsidiary temple of Motsuji Temple; according to Azuma Kagami, the official historical record of the Kamakura Shogunate, Muryoko-in was also known as the New Hall, as opposed to the older Motsuji; it was also slightly larger than Motsuji. Today, the site of the pond, the central island, and the cornerstones remain.
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Mt. Kinkeisan

Mt. Kinkeisan is a beautiful conic mountain with an altitude of 98.6 m located between Hiraizumi Station and Chusonji Temple on National Road 4. From the top, there is a panoramic view of Hiraizumi, Mt. Kinkeisan, or “golden chicken mountain,” is considered an important remnant upon which Hiraizumi's urban development was based. There appears to have been at least nine sutra mounds where Buddhist sutras were buried at the mountaintop, but the site was randomly dug and badly disrupted in 1930, and details have remained a mystery. Artifacts such as a sutra container made of copper are displayed at the Tokyo National Museum and Motsuji Temple.
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(7 minutes by car)


Hiraizumi Cultural Heritage Center

The Hiraizumi Cultural Heritage Center was established in 2009 as an effort to promote the “Cultural Heritage of Hiraizumi” towards inscription on the World Heritage List. The facility has many important artifacts unearthed from Yanagi no Gosho Site, as well as materials that explain the “Pure Land belief” of Buddhism, which was the spiritual foundation of the reign of the Oshu Fujiwara clan. The exhibits are explained in Japanese, English, Korean, and Chinese.
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(5 minutes by car)


Mochi Cuisine Restaurant GEN

When you're in Hiraizumi, it is a must to try the local specialty, "mochi (rice cake) cuisine." So we had lunch at the Restaurant GEN, located on the 2nd floor of Hiraizumi Rest House. With large windows, the restaurant commands a great view. Hiraizumi and Ichinoseki has traditionally had what is called "mochi culture," serving mochi at various occasions, for which there are over 300 mochi recipes! The southern-Iwate mascot "Omocchi" was named after the mochi culture of this region.

(2 minutes on foot)



Chuson-ji was built as the foundation of a peaceful Buddhism-based realm. After decades of warfare ravaged Tohoku ( northern Honshu ) in the late eleventh century, the only major power left standing was Fujiwara no Kiyohira, founder of the Oshu Fujiwara line and Hiraizumi. War-weary Kiyohira began his temple on this site in the early twelfth century, building a complex of halls and pagodas to pacify and memorialize all those who had died in battle, friend and foe alike. In 1124, he dedicated the Konjikido, the golden hall that is Chuson-ji’s crown jewel and a Japanese National Treasure. The Konjikido represents the pinnacle of Heian ( 794-1192 ) artistic achievement, and one of more than 3000 National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties housed here. Many of these are on display in Chuson-ji’s museum, the Sankozo, located next to the Konjikido.
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*The time spent at each spot is not included. *The information listed is as of June 2, 2011.


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