A few hours north of Tokyo is the recently registered World Heritage Site of Hiraizumi that is recognised for its remarkable buildings and gardens that directly express Pure Land Buddhism.
I know little about Buddhism and less about the ancient connections with Japan as we now know it. The central place of Hiraizumi in religious and cultural history is highlighted in the fantastic Hiraizumi Tourism Association website.
So if you plan to head north past Sendai, maybe heading to Morioka, Aomori or over to Hokkaido – I would absolutely recommend a visit to Hiraizumi.
It’s a fair guess that a week or two spent in Japan will not typically include Hiraizumi – rather squeezing in the major destinations of Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima. And yes, I have done that a couple of times. Even venturing out to other key cultural and heritage sites like Nara and Nikko.
But Hiraizumi? Except that I was going to be passing close by travelling from Kakunodate to Sendai I probably would never given it a thought.
A quick visit over a few hours will not give you a true insight to this special place. A local bus connects with the 4 main historic precincts, but atleast a full day needs to be set aside to immerse yourself in Hiraizumi’s delights.
Key World Heritage elements include:
- Chuson-Ji Temple, with the incredible Konjikido Golden Hall and Heian Art Treasury;
- Takkoku no Iwaya Bishamondo Hall, built in an overhanging cliff;
- Motsu-ji temple, garden and lake;