Temples Of Japan

Motsuji Temple

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Motsuji Temple Hondo
Mostsuji Temple Hondo

Motsuji Temple is located in the Hiraizumi area of the Iwate Prefecture in the Tohoku Region.  The historical monuments and temples of Hiraizumi area are recognized as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites.  This temple can be easily reached from JR Ichinoseki Station by a short bus ride or from JR Hiraizumi Station by a ten minute walk.

Motsuji Temple was founded by Monk Ennin (Jikaku Daishi), who is the third head priest of the Tendai sect of Japanese Buddhism in 850 AD.

Motsuji Temple SealBut the revival of this temple and return to the glory was done by the Fujiwara clan (known as Oshu Fujiwara) that ruled the Hiraizumi area in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. 

Motsuji Temple Seal

These Oshu Fujiwara rulers included Fujiwara no Motohira and his son, Fujiwara no Hidehira.  Under the rule of Fujiwara no Hidehira the temple was developed into an enormous complex of more than forty halls and pagodas.  It contained dormitaries for over five hundred monks and trainees.  They also built a large fort in the Hiraizumi area.  Under the Oshu Fujiwara clan Motsuji Temple was known as a sacred land unrivaled in the entire Japan.  Unfortunately all the glory came to a crashing end when Minomoto no Yoritomo (the first Shogun of Japan) invaded Hiraizumi area.

One of the greatest warriors and folk heroes of the eleventh century Japan Minomoto no Yoshitsune took refuge in Hiraizumi when Fujiwara no Hidehira was the ruler.  Minomoto no Yoshitsune was hiding from his brother Minomoto no Yoritomo, with whom he had a falling out. 

Enraged by the fact that Hidehira was providing refuge to Yoshitsune, Yoritomo invaded Hiraizumi killing his brother, his family and wiped out the entire Oshu Fujiwara family.  He also set fire to all the great monuments, halls and pagodas in that area.  Some of the halls like the Hondo you see above in the picture was built recently (1988) to revive the old glory of the Motsuji Temple.

Among the preserved are the beautiful and large Heian era style garden which is considered 850 years old. 

Here is a video of this beautiful garden and the Motsuji Temple:

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