Get Enlightened at These 2 Iwate Temples

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  • Iwate Prefecture is situated in the northeastern part of the Japanese main island. It boasts the largest land area among the Japanese Prefectures. It faces the Pacific Ocean, which explains why rocky cliffs along most of the shoreline are interrupted by sandy beaches. Other than this, there are many famous attractions in the area with great historical value. Two of these are Buddhist temples known as Chūson-ji and Mōtsū-ji. These are considered to be Important Cultural Properties in Japan.



    Chuson-ji is considered to be the head temple of the Tendai sect in the Tohoku region. It lies on top of the Kanzan hill. Its archaeological history is actually quite unclear. Some say it was founded by a samurai named Fujiwara no Kiyohara in 1100, while temple records show that it was founded by Ennin (Jikaku Daishi) who was a monk. In the later half of the eleventh century, bitter conflicts dominated the Tohoku region. Kiyohara wished to create a peaceful state based on the Buddhist principles, resulting into the construction of the Chuson-ji temple. The foundation of the temple was intended to placate the spirits of those who’ve died.

    One of the two buildings which survived from the original Chuson-ji temple complex is the Konjiki-do, or “Golden Hall.” This is a mausoleum where mummified remains of the leaders of the Fujiwara clan have been preserved.

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    Kiyohara’s son Motohira continued his great vision and put up his own temple called Motsuji. It was built in an area known as Motsu or Kegosu (an alternative reading for Chinese characters 毛越). These characters mean “hair” and “boundary”. The boundary refers to the area between Japan and the hairy people of “Emishi” beyond. The temple that you can see today has been built in the 18th century. It bears no exact resemblance to the other temples which once stood there. However, it is regarded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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    If Iwate is your next travel destination, don’t forget to get enlightened by visiting these tranquil temple sites!

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