Pure Land Garden and Amitabha hall in the setting sun
Communicates strong feelings of the time
A group of ruins in Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture, is registered as a World Natural Heritage site. Muryokoin remains are at the heart of the ruins. Muryokoin is a temple established by a powerful military commander named Fujiwara Hidehira in the second half of the 12th century. It is said to be built in imitation of Byodoin Hoohdo (Phoenix Hall) in Uji, Kyoto. The temple was lost by fire and what still remain are its foundation stones and a trace of a pond. Excavations of the place revealed that Fujiwara Hidehira had a plan to build a temple and garden beyond the scale of Byodoin.
The most distinctive feature of Muryokoin is that from here we can see the sun setting right above Mt. Kinkei two times a year in spring and fall. It is because the temple was built to think about the Pure Land. Fujiwara Hidehira must have created a world to experience the Pure Land differently than you may experience in Byodoin. (Pure Land of Buddhism somewhat corresponds to Heaven of Christianity. The principal object of worship is an image of Amitabha who is believed to have built the Pure Land) The building is lost but there are remains of a masterpiece of pure land garden, which is a good place to experience the worldview of Buddhism in a beautiful sunset.
Address: Hanadate 44, Hiraizumi, Hiraizumi-cho, Nishiiwai-gun, Iwate
Phone: 0191-46-2110(Hiraizumi Tourist Association)
Directions: (Train) A 10-minute walk from Hiraizumi Station on the JR Tohoku Line (2 hours and 20 minutes from Tokyo Station) (Car) 5 minutes from Hiraizumi-Maesawa Interchange on the Tohoku Expressway.