About Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture


Cultural assets in Hiraizumi

Hiraizumi is a town located in the southern part of Iwate Prefecture, Japan. This town is now bidding to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site (cultural heritage) in 2011.

Fujiwara no Kiyohira, the founder of the Ōshū Fujiwara dynasty that used to rule Hiraizumi and the rest of northern Japan, experienced many wars and lost much during his life. This instilled in him the desire to create a utopia free from wars, in other words, a “world of peace where war does not exist.” The aim of his building of Hiraizumi was to create a real-life “pure land” based on his belief in Pure Land Buddhism. The Konjikidō (Golden Hall) of Chūsonji Temple, which was built by Kiyohira, is a magnificent structure covered inside and out with gold leaf. It so amazed Marco Polo when he later visited Japan that it made him introduce the country as “Zipangu, the land of Gold” in his book, The Travels of Marco Polo.

Kiyohira’s ideals were passed on to the second and third lords of the Ōshū Fujiwara clan, Motohira and Hidehira, who respectively began and completed the construction of Mōtsūji Temple. Hidehira also built Muryōkōin Temple, as well as Kyara no Gosho and Hiraizumi Mansion, which were the administrative centers of Ōshū Fujiwara's polity. Kiyohira's “world of peace where war does not exist,” which the Fujiwara clan built more than 800 years ago, was a creation by visionaries who were ahead of their time and still gives us an ideal to strive toward in the 21st century. We strongly recommend you visit Hiraizumi and see the remnants of this utopia that still remain in Iwate Prefecture with your own eyes. We are looking forward to welcoming many visitors.

Hotel Shidotaira and Yusen Shidate in the Southern Hanamaki Hot Spring Resort have long been popular bases for travel in Hiraizumi and other parts of Iwate Prefecture. They provide good access also to Sanriku, Koiwai Farm and Morioka City.

Access guide from Yusen Shidate

By Shinkansen
Tōhoku Shinkansen from Shin-Hanamaki Station to Ichinoseki Station: About 30 minutes
By train
Tōhoku Main Line from Hanamaki Station to Hiraizumi Station: About 47 minutes
By car
Tōhoku Expressway from Hanamaki-minami Interchange to Hiraizumi-Maesawa Interchange: About 60 minutes
By bus (August 27~)
Free Shuttle Bus from Shidotaira Onsen to Hiraizumi Rest House: About 65 minutes

Minamoto no Yoshitsune, a popular Japanese historical figure who is commonly known by his childhood name, Ushiwakamaru, was also closely related to the Ōshū Fujiwara clan. Fujiwara no Hidehira, the third lord of the clan, put Yoshitsune under his protection and left a will stating that upon his death that the Ōshū Fujiwara clan should fight against Minamoto no Yoritomo under the direction of his chief general, Yoshitsune, in the event of a war between Yoshitsune and Yoritomo. However, Hidehira’s son, Yasuhira, betrayed the will of his father, and as a result, Yoshitsune was forced to kill himself. Later, Minamoto no Yoritomo invaded Hiraizumi and conquered the Ōshū Fujiwara clan in 1189.

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