World Heritage and Intangible Cultural Heritage

Hiraizumi - Temples, Gardens, and Archaeological Sites Representing the Buddhist Pure Land (extension)

Main data

Name of Property
Hiraizumi - Temples, Gardens, and Archaeological Sites Representing the Buddhist Pure Land (extension)
Place
Hiraizumi Town, Oshu City, Ichinoseki City, Iwate Prefecture
Tentative List Submission
Tentative List Submitted: 2012
Municipality
Culture Promotion Division, Department of Culture and Sports, Iwate Prefectural Government
Municipality Website
https://www.town.hiraizumi.iwate.jp/heritage/en/index.html
(Hiraizumi Town)
https://hiraizumi.or.jp/en/heritage/index.html
(Iwate Prefecture)

Explanation

Over the course of the 12th century, Hiraizumi was a political and administrative center established in the northern part of Japan’s main island of Honshû, in what was then a borderland between the territories ruled by Japan’s central government and the regions farther to the north, and whose lively commerce with these regions served as its economic underpinning. The ôshû Fujiwara clan had its origins in the samurai traditions, and while on the strength of the tremendous wealth accumulated over four generations, the family did not rely solely on its military power. Rather, they built Hiraizumi with the aim of creating the Pure Land—a Buddhist conception of the ideal world. Hiraizumi came into being as the locus of a unique pattern of regional rule with a religious core.
As a political and administrative center, Hiraizumi can be divided into a central area of roughly 190 hectares and a surrounding area of roughly 370 hectares, each of which comprises multiple component parts.
The central area includes the temples, gardens, and archaeological sites representing the Buddhist Pure Land, which are already inscribed on the World Heritage List, as well as the archaeological site of the buildings and their compounds serving as both residence and government office that was the backbone of the political and administrative power in the region. In the surrounding area, in addition to the sites of temple founded on pre-existing Buddhist thought that formed the basis for the Pure Land thought, there are also archaeological sites such as the manor that formed the wealth of Hiraizumi as the Pure Land, the workshops that were run with those wealth, and other sites. Among the important points in both the central and surrounding areas there are the existence of the remains of religious structures that were laid out deliberately, demonstrating a unique placement and construction intended to represent the Pure Land as a whole.
These component parts have been well maintained up to the present day, and as such Hiraizumi offers an exceptional example of a political and administrative center that embodies the Buddhist Pure Land.