Significance of Hiraizumi Culture
Konjikido (Golden Hall) of Chusonji Temple which represents Hiraizumi culture is a cultural property, of which we can boast to the world. Most people are surprised by the existence of the special construction, works of arts and crafts in Hiraizumi in the 12th century. Unfortunately, no political, economic or cultural successor existed after the Oshu Fujiwara family died out. Before Hiraizumi prospered, the Tohoku District was regarded as the backward region of Japan. But with the decline of the ritsuryo system in the late Heian period, the new local clans gained power, such as the Jo family in Echigo, the Togashi family in Kaga and Echizen, the Kikuchi family in Higo and the Fujiwara family in Hiraizumi. All these families insisted that they were the descendants of nobles of the Imperial Court..
We can evaluate Hiraizumi culture in Japanese history from three viewpoints.
The first issue is the appearance of a local government independent of the central government. According to the Azumakagami, there were land legers of Mutsu in Hiraizumi,
which is the main reason that Hiraizumi governed the entire Tohoku District. On the contrary, there is a theory that the official power of Hiraizumi was not so much like an independent country, because the Mutsu provincial government was still functioning and the official status of the Fujiwara family was limited to the exercise of the military and police power except for a period of two years when Fujiwara no Hidehira had been appointed the governor of Mutsu.
We can't decide which view is correct. The question is: To what extent was the Hiraizumi government independent of the central government? We expect that the question will be solved by archaeological excavation.
The second issue is the appearance of the medieval city in Japan. In the 12th century, with the exceptions of Kyoto, Hakata and Hiraizumi, there were few cities that we define as medieval in the country.
Unlike other cities, the destruction of archaeological structures was minimal in Hiraizumi since Hiraizumi had not developed after the decline in the 12th century. There is an excellent possibility of reconstructing the medieval city of Hiraizumi. Archaeological structures and remains including Chinese ceramics reveal many facts about of Hiraizumi city in those days.
The last issue is the prosperity of Buddhist culture here. Konjikido, a national treasure, is the most famous building at Chusonji. Most of the designated cultural properties in Hiraizumi relate to Buddhism, for example, the special historic sites of Chusonji keidai, Motsuji ato and Muryokoin ato and other tangible cultural properties including statues of Buddha. A special place of scenic beauty, Motsuji teien which was the garden expressing Pure Land garden, still leaves the aspect of the Heian period intact. We also emphasize the close relation between these Buddhist properties and political stance of the Fujiwara family. Other properties of Buddhist culture in the 12th century including Shiramizu Amida Hall in Iwaki and Fukiji Amida Hall in Bungo remain, but other historical evidences related to these properties do not exist, therefore it is impossible to understand the real political and economic background of the culture in any place but Hiraizumi.
We can understand the significance of Hiraizumi in history with respect to these three points. Historical transition from an ancient to a medieval society can be seen here in Hiraizumi.
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