Hiraizumi is blessed with a lot of Natural beauty.
The green mountains have ancient trees that are over a thousand years old.
Among these awe inspiring trees sits the glorious remains of ornate Buddhist temples that would make your jaw drop and your heart expand….
Hiraizumi was once a significant political and cultural center of Japan, rivaling even Kyoto with its wealth of ornate Buddhist monasteries.
It was also the scene of many power struggles and wars…
During the 11th and 12th Centuries, the Fujiwara clan, which originated in Hiraizumi, had great power in the ancient imperial courts of Nara and Kyoto.
They married their daughters into the imperial family line and became regents and advisors with much power.
By the mid-11th century, the Minamoto and the Taira Clans (also known as the Genji and the Heike) started a LONG war with the Fujiwara clan.
This long war lasted eight years and was followed by ANOTHER three year war, which depleted much of the Fujiwaras’ wealth and diminished somewhat their power in the central Imperial Courts.
The Fujiwaras turned their energies to building up an alternate cultural center around their isolated country home in Northern Japan in the Tohuku Region near Hiraizumi, in what was then called Mutsu Province.
With the wealth they had accumulated over the centuries, they founded magnificent temples and monasteries around Hiraizumi.
The Buddhist temples were of the sect of Pure Land Buddhism, which believed in creating harmonious spiritual places in Nature, to promote peace, harmony, Spiritual development, compassion and piety.
Within three generations, the wealthy Fujiwaras had created a magnificent cultural center filled with glorious temples, dripping in gold and filled with master works of art.
The temples were created by many of the finest artists in the land, and many people came to study there.
The Pure Land Buddhist sect, held the idea of creating a physical Heaven on earth.
It believed that when Men and Nature are in perfect Harmony, the human mind naturally expands, and this promotes spiritual growth and a healthy and peaceful environment to grow in Self realization into Buddhahood.
It has always been the teaching of Buddhism that in each and every one of us exists the potential to reach Enlightenment and to realize our Divine Nature, and to become a Fully Realized and Awake Being.
Instead of renting bicycles, we decided to explore Hiraizumi on foot.
It was a lovely day, not too sunny, and only a tiny bit cool, which made for a perfect day of walking.
Mutsuji is a beautiful park in Hiraizumi, with a large central lake and a crescent beach that was constructed based on these principles of Harmony, in the 800’s.
At one point, it had many magnificent Temple buildings, each decorated with ornate and intricate artwork.
Through the years, most of the temples were burned by fire or by lightning.
Some of the temples were reconstructed and rebuilt in the 1500’s, but those also burnt down.
Still, walking in the garden of harmony, along the lake, it was easy to enjoy the day and the beauty of the place.
Every year this garden hosts a variety of festivals, including a yearly Poetry festival by the creek.
People dress in traditional Heidan Period clothing and read Haiku and other poems, while floating a cup of sake rice wine on the creek. (after reading the poem, they drink the sake, which must create some lovely but drunken new Haikus…)
We visited the majestic Chusonji Temple, with its many beautiful temple buildings and gates, set among giant thick trees.
Just the stroll among these tall ancient trees was magnificent, but at the top we were rewarded with a glimpse of the Golden Hall, or the Hall Of Light, which was carved and gilded in pure gold and inlaid with mother of pearl shell from Okinawa.
We took hours walking around the hill and enjoying this heavenly place, while it seemed that most of the tourists arrived by buses in very large groups, and were escorted directly to see the golden hall and the museum which had some beautiful Buddhist artifacts.
Among them were a few paintings on dark blue scrolls, done in gold and colors, of a large pagoda painted entirely with Kanji Characters.
It was most beautiful and in an amazingly good condition, for an art piece done on paper in the 1200’s and so precise and delicately painted with a thin brush.
We bought a symbolic spiritual pilgrimage passport, which we plan to stamp while visiting four holy temples in the Northern Region of Japan.
We ended our walk at the Hiraizumi Train station, and while waiting for our Guesthouse to come and pick us up, we used our WIFI Internet.
Out in the rice paddies where our hotel was located, we did not get a cell signal.
Dinner was served in our room, and it was a lovely feast.
After dinner, the woman who runs the hotel, ushered a young American girl into our room.
She was an exchange student from Connecticut, who studies Japanese and as an exchange student, she came to stay with a Japanese family in Akita.
We chatted with her about her experience of Japan, and enjoyed the conversation and a glimpse into the mind of a young and very friendly high school girl.
Hiraizumi is Golden…. I had such a good time staying in this Guesthouse and soaking in the soft hot waters of the Onsen….
Today I delighted in visiting the magnificent temple complex of Chusonji…
I rested my head on the soft pillows and I counted my many blessings…
My inner eye conjured up images of majestic ancient trees…. Of beautifully trimmed trees and temple pagodas…. Red ochre temple built into a cave…. And magnificent tori gates with guardian lions standing beside them…
In my interior world, I saw again tree branches twisting into the blue sky, and a million human prayers written on white pieces of papers and twisted around tree branches…. So many desires… So many cravings…. so much hope….
Before I fell asleep, I saw myself ringing temple bells… Blessing my brothers and sisters around the world with a million good wishes….
Good night world of dreams…. May all your children know how safe and perfect and secure they truly are….
May they find the Eternal Flame that burns within their very Being….and wake up from the dreams that obscure their vision of the beauty of the world and of the Truth…