Sunday, November 18, 2007
Sara-Hiraizumi (Catching up on things I did in October.)
I went with Patrick on October 20th to Hiraizumi, which is a small town in Iwate, just south of Morioka. Hiraizumi is now a National Historic site because of it’s many temples and other preserved historical ruins. We were able to get a day ticket for 2,200 yen (about 20 dollars), which allowed us to go anywhere in Iwate and get off at as many places as we wanted to within the day. We left around 10am and got on the local train. It took about an hour and a half to get to Hiraizumi, but the scenery was very beautiful.
Once we arrived, we first ate breakfast at a local soba noodle shop. I had learned earlier from one of the English teachers at my school that there are a lot of soba (buckwheat) noodle shops because long ago, people in the Tohoku region (which includes Iwate prefecture) couldn’t grow rice because the soil wasn’t rich enough. So instead, they grew buckwheat and millet. Thus, a lot of buckwheat dishes.
After breakfast, we went to a temple that was just a couple of miles from the train station. It was very beautiful. There was a brook that ended at a lake and many various small Buddhist shrines.
We then continued on to the main attraction for us, which was Chusonji (Chuson Temple). However, before getting to Chusoji, we took a detour and went to see the grave of Yoritomo’s wife and child (Yoritomo was a great Feudal Lord). Then, we decided that it was a good idea to continue up a long road that ended up to be a very very steep hill that was almost a vertical climb. Once we arrived at the top, we were rewarded by a shrine.
After our very tiring walk up the hill, we went down and continued to Chusonji. This temple is well known for it’s golden pavilion. It is like the one in Kyoto but unlike the one in Kyoto, Chusonji’s pavilion was preserved in its original state. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take a picture of the pavilion, but it was very beautiful. We also found a statue of Basho, the great haiku poet, and paintings of the other famous shrines and temples in Japan. After Chusoji, we went to the shrine and grave of Yoshitsune the great samurai warrior who was the younger brother of Yoritomo, the War Lord. However, no one knows for sure where Yoshitsune died. There is a legend that Yoshitsune escaped with the help of the Buddhist priest Benkei (who is buried in Chusonji). We also found a stone slab of one of Basho’s haikus. The view was also very beautiful. We were able to see the wide river, and the fields.
After the temple, we headed back to the train station and had lunch and then had a late dinner.