Chūson-ji (中尊寺) is a Buddhist temple in the town of Hiraizumi in southern Iwate Prefecture, Japan. It is the head temple of the Tendai sect in Tōhoku region of northern Honshu. The temple claims it was founded in 850 by Ennin, the third chief abbot of the sect. George Sansom states Chūson-ji was founded by Fujiwara no Kiyohira in 1095. Chūson-ji is designated as a Special Historic Site and in June 2011 was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as a part of the "Historic Monuments and Sites of Hiraizumi".
|Location||202 Hiraizumi-Koromonoseki, Hiraizumi-chō, Nishiiwai-gun, Iwate-ken|
Shown within Iwate Prefecture
At the beginning of the 12th century, large-scale temple construction was carried out by Fujiwara no Kiyohira, the founder of the Northern Fujiwara clan. The temple was built to placate souls of all who died in the Former Nine Years War and the Latter Three Years' War. Kiyohira, who had been forced into bloody battles and lost his family in the war, resolved to bring peace to the region based on an ideal society following the teachings of Buddha. Per the Azuma Kagami (the official history of the Kamakura shogunate) the temple contained more than 40 halls and pagodas, and over 300 monks' residences. Kiyohira's son Fujiwara no Motohira continued this plan, and commissioned his own great temple, Mōtsū-ji, nearby. Mōtsū-ji was completed by his son, Fujiwara no Hidehira, who also commissioned Muryōkō-in.
Hiraizumi flourished for nearly one hundred years, until its destruction by the forces of Minamoto no Yoritomo in 1189. Chūson-ji survived the conflict, but fell into decline. In 1337 fire destroyed much of the temple; however, more than 3,000 National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties survived.
During the Edo period, it was partially rebuilt by the Date clan of Sendai Domain and became a subsidiary temple of Kan'ei-ji in Edo. It was visited by Matsuo Bashō during his travels while writing the Oku no Hosomichi、which translate into, "The narrow road deep down".
The Konjiki-dō (金色堂) is a small building completed in 1124, which still conveys an image of what Chūson-ji looked like in its prime. The building is covered with gold leaf on both the interior and exterior. Inside, the decorations use mother-of-pearl inlays, woodwork, metalwork, lacquerwork and paintings, bringing together many aspects of late Heian period arts and crafts It is one of two buildings that survive from the original Chūson-ji temple complex, the other being a sutra repository. The building also serves as a mausoleum containing the mummified remains of the leaders of the Northern Fujiwara clan.
The building measures five-and-a-half meters on each side and is eight meters tall. The interior of the building contains three altars, one for each of the first three Fujiwara lords. Each altar had a seated Amida surrounded by standing Kannon Bosatsu and Seishi Bosatsu, six Jizō Bosatsu and two Niten statues. One Niten figure is now missing. The building was rebuilt from 1962 to 1968.
The mummies were last examined in 1950. It is assumed that the mummy of Fujiwara no Kiyohira was placed under the central altar. Fujiwara no Motohira's remains were identified as he is known to have died of a cerebral hemorrhage. His mummy was found under the northwest altar. Fujiwara no Hidehira's remains were found under the southwest altar next to a casket containing the head of his son Fujiwara no Yasuhira who was beheaded in 1189.
The Konjiki-dō formerly sat outdoors in the open air. In 1288 it was covered with a wooden structure to protect it from the elements. Today it sits behind thick acrylic glass within a concrete building (constructed in 1965) and is visible only from the front and sides. Shōgyo Ōba, a maki-e lacquer artist, helped to restore the interior lacquer work in 1964.
The building was the first structure designated a Japanese National Treasure.
The 1000 yen coin is a denomination of the Japanese yen. This denomination is only used for the issue of commemorative silver coins struck by the Japan Mint.Fujiwara no Motohira
Fujiwara no Motohira (藤原 基衡, 1105–1157) was the second ruler of Northern Fujiwara in Mutsu Province, Japan, the son of Fujiwara no Kiyohira and the father of Fujiwara no Hidehira.Fujiwara no Motohira is credited with expansion of Hiraizumi, the residence of Northern Fujiwara. In particular, he founded Mōtsū-ji, and his wife built Kanjizaiō-in which was adjacent to Motsu-ji. Both sites survived, though all the buildings from the Heian period were lost, and are currently listed as constituents of a World Heritage Site, Historic Monuments and Sites of Hiraizumi. He also expanded Chūson-ji, where he was buried, along with his father and his son.Fujiwara no Yasuhira
Fujiwara no Yasuhira (藤原 泰衡, 1155 – October 14, 1189) was the fourth ruler of Northern Fujiwara in Mutsu Province, Japan, the second son of Hidehira.
At first protecting Yoshitsune, according to his father's will, he was finally forced by Minamoto no Yoritomo to attack Yoshitsune. Yoshitsune, rather than surrender, killed his wife and children and committed suicide. In 1189 Yasuhira was defeated by Yoritomo's forces and subsequently killed. This marked the end of the Northern Fujiwara.A casket purportedly containing the head of Fujiwara no Yasuhira is housed within the Konjiki-dō at Chūson-ji in Iwate Prefecture.Hiraizumi, Iwate
Hiraizumi (平泉町, Hiraizumi-chō) is a town located in Nishiiwai District, Iwate Prefecture, Japan. As of 31 July 2017, the town had an estimated population of 7,803 and a population density of 123 persons per km² in 2,648 households. The total area of the town was 63.39 km². It is noted for the Historic Monuments and Sites of Hiraizumi, which achieved UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2011.Hiraizumi Station
Hiraizumi Station (平泉駅, Hiraizumi-eki) is a railway station on the Tōhoku Main Line in the town of Hiraizumi, Iwate, Japan, operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East).Historic Monuments and Sites of Hiraizumi
Hiraizumi – Temples, Gardens and Archaeological Sites Representing the Buddhist Pure Land is a grouping of five sites from late eleventh- and twelfth-century Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture, Japan. The serial nomination was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2011, under criteria ii and vi.Iwate Prefecture
Iwate Prefecture (岩手県, Iwate-ken) is a prefecture in the Tōhoku region of Japan. Located on the main island of Honshu, it contains the island's easternmost point. The capital is Morioka. Iwate has the lowest population density of any prefecture outside Hokkaido. Famous attractions include the Buddhist temples of Hiraizumi, including Chūson-ji and Mōtsū-ji with their treasures, Fujiwara no Sato, a movie lot and theme park in Esashi Ward, Oshu City, Tenshochi, a park in Kitakami City known for its big, old cherry trees and Morioka Castle in Morioka City.Kalaviṅka
Kalaviṅka (Sanskrit: कलविङ्क kalaviṅka ; Chinese: 迦陵頻迦 Jiālíngpínjiā ; Japanese: Karyōbinga (迦陵頻迦), Korean: 가릉빈가; Burmese: ကရဝိက်; Thai: การเวก) is a fantastical immortal creature in Buddhism, with a human head and a bird's torso, with long flowing tail.The kalaviṅka is said to dwell in the Western pure land and reputed to preach the Dharma with its fine voice. It is said to sing while still unhatched within its eggshell. Its voice is a descriptor of the Buddha's voice. In Japanese text, it goes by various titles such as myōonchō (妙音鳥, "exquisite sounding bird"), kōonchō (好音鳥, "goodly sounding bird") among others.
Edward H. Schafer notes that in East Asian religious art the Kalaviṅka is often confused with the Kinnara, which is also a half-human half-bird hybrid mythical creature, but that the two are actually distinct and unrelated.Kamui ware
Kamui ware (カムィ焼), from Tokunoshima kamïyaki, is grey stoneware produced in Tokunoshima, the Amami Islands, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan from the 11th century to the early 14th century, or from the late Heian period to the Kamakura period.Keman
Keman (華鬘(けまん)) (Japanese phoneticization from the Sanskrit kusumamālā "Garland of Flowers"), is a Buddhist ritual decoration, placed hanging on the beam of the inner sanctuary before the enshrined Buddha, in the main hall of the temple.As its Sanskrit name suggests, it originated as a term for fresh flowers strung together and tied in a loop, but became a name for such implements as used to pay respect to the dead (hotoke), and eventually signified ritual implements ornamenting the inner sanctuary (naijin (内陣), corresponding to the chancel of a church.They are typically made from gilt bronze in the shape of a round fan (uchiwa). Other materials used for making it are oxhide, wooden boards, or threads.
The design may feature karyobinga (harpy-like beings), or use foliage scroll-work (karakusa) combined with the hōsōge (imaginary peony-like floral pattern), lotus, or peony.
A well-known example is the keman from the Golden Hall of Chūson-ji in Northern Japan, designated National Treasure.Koyasan Reihōkan
Kōyasan Reihōkan (高野山 霊宝館, lit. "Kōyasan Museum of Sacred Treasures") is an art museum on Kōya-san, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan, preserving and displaying Buddhist art owned by temples on Kōya-san. The collection is centered around articles from the Heian and Kamakura periods and includes paintings, calligraphy, sutras, sculpture and Buddhist ritual objects. Among these are a set of the complete Buddhist canon (issaikyō), writings of Kūkai and Minamoto no Yoritomo, founder of the Kamakura Shogunate, mandalas and portraits of priests. The most valuable objects have been designated as National Treasure or Important Cultural Property.
== History ==
Kōbō-Daishi, founder of Shingon Buddhism was a proponent of religious art as a way to enlightenment. Consequently Shingon temples such as on Koyasan are among Japan's greatest repositories of Buddhist art. Initially, Koyasan's religious treasures were spread among the various subtemples with the highest concentration at Kongōbu-ji. Valuable objects were either locked away or — if used liturgically — placed at a distance from the viewer and often poorly lit. Repeatedly unrolling handscrolls or paintings on scrolls on request of visitors caused further damage. Following the Meiji Restoration, at the end of the 19th century, the government introduced a policy of separation of Shinto and Buddhism (Shinbutsu bunri) and many Buddhist temples became destitute. Some of Koyasan's artworks ended up in collections of museums in Tokyo, Kyoto or Nara or were sold to private persons, both domestically and to foreigners.In order to stop the outflow of cultural properties the government passed a series of laws starting with the Ancient Temples and Shrines Preservation Law (古社寺保存法, koshaji hozonhō) in 1897 and continuing with the National Treasures Preservation Law (国宝保存法, kokuhō hozonhō) in 1929 and the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties (文化財保護法, bunkazai hogohō) from 1950 which, after a number of revisions and extension, is still effective today.The Koyasan Reihōkan was established with the help of volunteers by Kongōbu-ji, the head temple at Koyasan, with the aim to preserve and exhibit the precious religious and cultural heritage of Koyasan. Construction of the building in a wooded area southwest of Daishi Kyōkai, the administrative center of Shingon Buddhism, was completed on 30 September 1920. This first museum consisted of two connected halls and was designed to vaguely resemble the Phoenix Hall at Byōdō-in, Uji. The opening of the museum was celebrated on 15 May 1921 and the head priest of Kongōbu-ji, Hōryū Doki (土宜法龍) assumed the position of first director. Subsequently the temple's head priests continued to work as museum director.On 16 September 1957, the Koyasan Cultural Property Preservation Society (高野山文化財保存会) was established and the museum put under its control. On 1 May 1961, the museum was expanded with the construction of the Koyasan Great Treasury (高野山大宝蔵), at the time the biggest of its kind in Japan and used mainly for nationally designated tangible cultural properties of the fine arts and crafts type. In 1984, on the 1150th anniversary of Kōbō-Daishi entering the state of eternal meditation (nyūjō (入定)), a new large standalone and fireproof building was constructed to the east of the old structure, effectively doubling the display space. It also provided the museum with modern features such as proper lighting, full temperature and humidity control; things that are still lacking in the old structure today. On 5 May 1988 five buildings of the museum were designated as registered tangible cultural property. The storage space was further extended in 2003. The admission office and the three museum buildings are connected by sheltered walkways.
== Collection ==
The museum stores more than 50,000 artifacts of which more than 28,000 have been designated as valuable. This includes 186 objects or sets of objects designated as 21 National Treasures (about 4800 articles), 147 Important Cultural Properties (about 20,000 articles), 16 Important Cultural Properties of Wakayama Prefecture (about 2850 articles) and 2 Important Works of Art.
=== National Treasures ===
==== Paintings ====
Eight National Treasure paintings owned by six of Koyasan's temples are stored at the Reihōkan. A 163.6 cm × 111.2 cm (64.4 in × 43.8 in) hanging scroll showing the Dragon King Zennyo (絹本著色善女竜王像, kenpon chakushoku zennyo ryūōzō) has been designated as National Treasure. Painted by Jōchi (定智) in 1145 Heian period with color on silk, the scroll is owned by Kongōbu-ji.
Buddha's Nirvana (絹本著色仏涅槃図, kenpon chakushoku butsunehanzu), owned by Kongōbu-ji is a large scale, 267.6 cm × 271.2 cm (105.4 in × 106.8 in) hanging scroll painted with color on silk. Dated to 1086, Heian period, it is a type of Nirvana painting (nehan-zu) depicting the death and entrance to nirvana of the historical Buddha (Shaka). Typical for this kid of paintings, Shaka is shown lying on his deathbed surrounded by mourners. This painting is the oldest extant and finest of its type.
The Portrait of Buddhist monk Gonsō (絹本著色勤操僧正像, kenpon chakushoku gonsō sōshō zō) is a 12th century Heian period hanging scroll owned by Fūmon-in (普門院). The scroll painted in colors on silk measures 166.4 cm × 136.4 cm (65.5 in × 53.7 in). An inscription on the top tells of a wooden sculpture of Gonsō being created after his death by his pupils praying for happiness in the next world and praising Gonsō's learning and virtue.
The triptych Coming of Amida Buddha and Saints of the Pure Land (絹本著色阿弥陀聖衆来迎図, kenpon chakushoku amida shōju raigō zu) depicts Amida Nyorai, surrounded by Buddhist saints playing musical instruments, come to greet the spirits of the deceased to escort them to the Pure Land, a topic known as raigō-zu (来迎図). Painted on three hanging scrolls with color on silk, this work dates to around 1200, the turn from the Heian to the Kamakura period and is owned by Yūshi Hachimankō Jūhakkain (有志八幡講十八箇院).
Originally consisting of five scrolls, the mid-Heian period treasure known as Five great Bodhisattvas of strength (絹本著色五大力菩薩像, kenpon chakushoku godairiki bosatsuzō) now consists of only three hanging scrolls after two were destroyed by fire in 1888. Painted with color on silk, the remaining scrolls show Kongōku (金剛吼) (322.8 cm × 179.5 cm (127.1 in × 70.7 in)), Ryūōku (龍王吼) (237.6 cm × 179.5 cm (93.5 in × 70.7 in)) and Muijūrikiku (無畏十力吼) (179.5 cm × 179.5 cm (70.7 in × 70.7 in)). Owned by Yūshi Hachimankō Jūhakkain (有志八幡講十八箇院), they are in custody at the Reihōkan.
Ryūkōin (龍光院) owns a 12th century, Heian period hanging scroll painted with color on silk showing the Senchū Yūgen Kannon (絹本著色伝船中湧現観音像, kenpon chakushoku den senchū yūgen kannonzō), a manifestation of Kannon who calms the raging waters. Literally the term Senchū Yūgen means inspired vision while on a boat. It is said that this Kannon appeared to the monk and founder of Shingon Buddhism, Kūkai in 806 while on a boat to China. Having the appearance of a deva and crowned with flowers, Senchū Yūgen Kannon is shown calming the waves with the hands.
A Kamakura period hanging scroll of an Amida Trinity (絹本著色阿弥陀三尊像, kenpon chakushoku amida sansonzō) is held at the museum. Painted with color on silk, the scroll measures 154.0 cm × 135.0 cm (60.6 in × 53.1 in).
Ike no Taiga, among the most famous Edo period painters, decorated fusuma sliding partitions with landscape scenes in the nanga style. The designated National Treasure known as Landscape and figures on sliding partitions (紙本著色山水人物図, shihon chakushoku sansui jinbutsuzu) consists of ten paintings with color on paper.
==== Sculptures ====
There are two National Treasures in the sculpture category, both owned by Kongōbu-ji. An 8th century Tang dynasty Miniature Buddhist shrine (木造諸尊仏龕, mokuzō shoson butsugan) brought back from China by Kūkai is stored at the museum. This 23.1 cm (9.1 in) sandalwood, natural wood surface (素地,, kiji) carving contains various Buddhist images.
Six of the group of Eight Attendants of Fudō Myōō (木造八大童子立像, mokuzō hachidai dōji ryūzō), the oldest, dating to 1197 Kamakura period by Unkei are National Treasures: Ekō (慧光), Eki (慧喜), Ukubaga (烏倶婆誐), Shōjō Biku (清浄比丘), Kongara (矜羯羅), Seitaka (制多迦). The remaining two (Anokuda (阿耨達), Shitoku (指徳)) were produced in the 14th century and are not included in this nomination. The group, made of colored hinoki wood with crystal eyes, was formerly enshrined in the Fudō-dō (不動堂). All sculptures are around 1 m (3 ft 3 in) in size, specifically: 96.6 cm (38.0 in) (Ekō), 98.8 cm (38.9 in) (Eki), 95.1 cm (37.4 in) (Ukubaga), 97.1 cm (38.2 in) (Shōjō), 95.6 cm (37.6 in) (Kongara), 103.0 cm (40.6 in) (Seitaka).
==== Crafts ====
A small Chinese style chest (karabitsu) with maki-e, mother of pearl inlay (澤千鳥螺鈿蒔絵小唐櫃, sawachidori raden makie kokarabitsu) and plover motifs from the 12th century Heian period is the only crafts National Treasure at the museum. The chest is covered with black lacquer and gold dust has been sprinkled to form the image of plovers playing in the marsh. It is thought that the chest was once used to store Buddhist scriptures.
==== Writings ====
Koyasan Reihōkan holds ten National Treasures related to writing, including six that are copies of sutras or sets of sutras, one religious study, two Japanese manuscripts of parts of the Wenguan cilin and one large set of ancient documents related to Mount Kōya.
Known as Complete Buddhist scriptures in gold and silver letters (金銀字一切経, kinginji issaikyō) or Chūson-ji Sutras (中尊寺経, Chūson-ji kyō)
is a large-scale collection of sutras, Buddhist regulations and sutra explanations initiated by Fujiwara no Kiyohira; dedicated to Chūson-ji and later presented to Kongōbu-ji by Toyotomi Hidetsugu. The articles are decorated with various pictures in gold and silver paint. A set of 15 similar scrolls that were part of the same collection remained at Chūson-ji and are part of another National Treasure. The items date to the Heian period from the second month 1117 to the third month 1126. In total there are 4,296 items: handscrolls with gold and silver letters on indigo blue paper.There are several National Treasures related to copies of specific sutras, including 18 handscrolls of the Fukū Kenjaku Shinpen Shingon Sutra (不空羂索神変真言経, fukū kenjaku shinpen shingonkyō) from the 8th century Nara period held by Sanbō-in (三宝院); seven scrolls of the Lotus Sutra in large characters (大字法華経, daiji hokekyō) (vol. 3 missing) from Ryūkō-in (龍光院) also from the 8th century, and one scroll, vol. 6 of the Lotus Sutra (法華経, hokekyō) from the Heian period owned by Kongōbu-ji. The latter is notable for being written on colored paper.Ryūkō-in (龍光院) owns two treasures of the Konkōmyō Saishōō Sutra from the 8th century Nara period: one, consisting of ten scrolls and known as Konkōmyō Saishōō Sutra with gilt letters (紫紙金字金光明最勝王経, shishikinji konkōmyō saishōōkyō) was one of the sutras enshrined in the state-sponsored "Temples for the Protection of the State by the Golden Light (of the) Four Heavenly Kings" founded by Emperor Shōmu. The other, Konkōmyō Saishōō Sutra in minute characters (細字金光明最勝王経, saiji konkōmyō saishōōkyō), consisting of two scroll is unusual in having 34 characters per line instead of the usual 17.
Written in 797 by the 24 year old monk and founder of Shingon Buddhism, Kūkai (Kōbō-Daishi), with the aim of affirming the superiority of Buddhism, the Rōkoshiiki (聾瞽指帰, Indications of the Teaching of the Three Religions) or Sangō Shiiki is a comparative study of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. The two scrolls at the museum are written in Kūkai's own handwriting and measure 28.3 cm × 1,011 cm (11.1 in × 398.0 in) (18 pages) and 28.3 cm × 1,176 cm (11.1 in × 463.0 in) (21 pages)).
Shōchi-in (正智院) and Hōju-in (宝寿院) own Japanese manuscripts of parts of the Wenguan Cilin (文館詞林, Bunkan shirin, lit. "Forest of officials' poems and prose"), a Tang Dynasty imperial poetry collection. Other manuscripts of this work had been lost in China as early as the 9th century. The treasure from Shōchi-in amounts to twelve scrolls from the Tang Dynasty and Heian period, 677–823; the one from Hōju-in consists of a single scroll.
A large set of documents on the history, territory, function, and other aspects of life at Mount Kōya from the Heian period – Azuchi-Momoyama period has been designated as National Treasure in the category ancient documents. This treasure consists of three parts: Hōkanshū (宝簡集), Zoku Hōkanshū (続宝簡集), Yūzoku Hōkanshū (又続宝簡集), consisting of 54/77/167 rolled scrolls and 0/6/9 bound double-leaved (袋とじ, fukuro-toji) books respectively. Included in this collection are letters of notable historical figures such as Minamoto no Yoritomo, Minamoto no Yoshitsune and Saigyō Hōshi.List of Cultural Properties of Japan - paintings (Iwate)
This list is of the Cultural Properties of Japan designated in the category of paintings (絵画, kaiga) for the Prefecture of Iwate.List of World Heritage Sites in Japan
Japan accepted the UNESCO World Heritage Convention on 30 June 1992. As of July 2019, twenty-three properties have been inscribed on the World Heritage List: nineteen cultural sites and four natural sites. A further eight sites and one site extension have been submitted for future inscription and are currently on the Tentative List as of 2017.List of people from Iwate
The following are prominent people who were born, raised, have lived for a significant period in Iwate Prefecture or have otherwise had a significant impact.Mutsu Province
Mutsu Province (陸奥国, Mutsu no kuni) was an old province of Japan in the area of Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate and Aomori Prefectures and the municipalities of Kazuno and Kosaka in Akita Prefecture.
Mutsu Province is also known as Ōshū (奥州) or Michinoku (陸奥 or 道奥). The term Ōu (奥羽) is often used to refer to the combined area of Mutsu and the neighboring province Dewa, which together make up the entire Tōhoku region.Mōtsū-ji
Mōtsū-ji (毛越寺) is a Buddhist temple of the Tendai sect in the town of Hiraizumi in southern Iwate Prefecture], Japan, and also refers to the historic area surrounding it containing the ruins of two older temples, Enryū-ji (圓隆寺) and Kashō-ji (嘉祥寺) in a Jōdo (Pure Land) garden. The current temple was built in the 18th century and bears no relation to the ancient temple structures that once stood here. In June 2011, Mōtsū-ji was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as "Historic Monuments and Sites of Hiraizumi".Shōgyo Ōba
Shōgyo Ōba (大場松魚, Ōba Shōgyo, March 15, 1916 – June 21, 2012) was a Japanese maki-e lacquer artist. He began practicing the art of maki-e lacquerware in Kanazawa since 1945. Shōgyo was named a Living National Treasure of Japan in 1982 for his expertise in maki-e lacquerware.Shōgyo was born Ōba Katsuo on March 15, 1916, in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan. His grandfather had established the family lacquer business. Shōgyo graduated from Ishikawa Prefectural Industrial School, where he studied painting and design. Shōgyo then became an apprentice of Matsuda Gonroku in Tokyo.He especially skilled in the technique of hyōmon, in which pieces of gold or silver cut lead are attached to decorative objects, often to round objects, such as vases, which can be difficult to apply this technique. Shogyo restored the gold and lacquer decorations of Chūson-ji Konjiki-dō. a 10th-century Buddhist temple in Hiraizumi, Iwate, in 1964.Shōgyo Ōba died on June 21, 2012, at the age of 96.