Chuson-ji Temple, a heritage site for Heian Buddhist culture that came of age in the Tohoku region
Chuson-ji is a temple built upon a 130m hill in the middle of deep forest. Beautiful 300-year-old cryptomeria trees line the gentle Tsukimizaka Slope on its way to the temple. The history of the temple is old: it had been established by Buddhist abbot Ennin in 850 before further construction was initiated in 1105 by the first of the Northern Fujiwara clan, Kiyohira, which began an age of prosperity for the temple. However, due to the ravages of war, the Northern Fujiwaras collapsed in 1189 and the now-unprotected temple went into decline with a further tragedy occurring in 1337 when many of the temple buildings were burned down due to a fire. But some of the cultural heritage of the temple managed to survive the fire including the No. 1 National Treasure of the Golden Hall, and it is this group of surviving cultural assets that has been designated as a treasury of Heian Buddhist art as well as a World Heritage site. Currently, centering upon the Hondo Main Hall where the memorial services, ceremonies and events are held, numerous cultural assets are preserved such as the Sankozo Museum where 3000 of those assets left by the Fujiwara including National Treasures are stored, and the Important Cultural Property of Hakusan Shrine Noh Stage that was built in the Edo Era. All of this elegant Buddhist cultural heritage continues to be taught to future generations.
Konjiki-do, a masterpiece of post-Heian Buddhist art
The National Treasure of Konjiki-do, or the Golden Hall, has been in existence since after the Heian Era, and is a cultural heritage that survived the ravages of fire. Constructed in 1124 by Kiyohira Fujiwara, it was built retaining the essence of the craftsmanship of that time. The hall, which is designed with the expression of Paradise, shines with the gold leaf layered upon it, and is a true jewel with its decorative mother-of-pearl and ivory. The temple also has Buddhist statues that cannot be seen elsewhere such as the Kannon Bodhisattva and Seishi Bodhisattva standing on either side of the principal image of the Amida Nyorai, the Jizo Bosatsu, and two of the Four Heavenly Kings, Zochoten and Jikokuten. These are hidden treasures that hold the repose of those lost in the war and Kiyohira Fujiwara’s strong wish for peace.