Hiraizumi Festivals


Hiraizumi Fujiwara Festival
(Hiraizumi Fujiwara Matsuri)

***** Location: Hiraizumi, Iwate, Japan
***** Season: Late Spring
***** Category: Observance


Hiraizumi Fujiwara Matsuri
平泉藤原祭 (ひらいずみふじわらまつり)
Fujiwara Festival in Spring

May 1-5

The Spring Festival begins on May 1 with memorial services for the four generations of Fujiwaras who ruled the area through the twelfth century. It reaches its peak on May 3, when roughly 100 people recreate Minamoto no Yoshitsune’s Eastern Flight in a parade from Motsuji to Chusonji.
With long parades in traditional robes.
Parade of children and sacred dancing. Athletic games are also held.

During the festival there is a Noh performance at a thatched roof stage near the temple.

CLICK here for more photos

. Minamoto no Yoshitsune 源の義経 (1159 - 1189) .
- Introduction -


Hiraizumi (平泉町, Hiraizumi-chō)
is a town located in Nishiiwai District, Iwate, Japan. It was the home of the Hiraizumi Fujiwaras for about 100 years in the late Heian era and most of the following Kamakura period. At the same time it served as the de facto capital of Oshu, an area containing nearly a third of the Japanese land area

The first structure built in Hiraizumi may have been Hakusan Shrine on top of Mount Kanzan (Barrier Mountain). A writer in 1334 recorded that the shrine was already 700 years old. Although rebuilt many times, the same shrine is still standing in the same location.

In about 1100 Fujiwara no Kiyohira (藤原清衡) moved his home from Fort Toyoda in present day Esashi Ward, Oshu City to Mount Kanzan in Hiraizumi. This location was significant for several reasons. Kanzan is situated at the junction of two rivers, the Kitakami and the Koromo. Traditionally the Koromo River served as the boundary between Japan to the south and the Emishi peoples to the north. By building his home south of the Koromo, Kiyohira (half Emishi himself) demonstrated his intention to rule Oshu without official sanction from the court in Kyoto. Kanzan was also directly on the Frontier Way, the main road leading from Kyoto to the northern lands as they opened up. Kanzan was also seen as the exact center of Oshu which stretched from the Shirakawa Barrier in the south to Sotogahama in present day Aomori Prefecture.

Kiyohira built the large temple complex on Kanzan known as temple Chūson-ji 中尊寺(ちゅうそんじ).
CLICK for more photos The first structure was a large pagoda at the very top of the mountain. In conjunction with this he placed small umbrella reliquaries (kasa sotoba) every hundred meters along the Frontier Way decorated with placards depicting Amida Buddha painted in gold. Other pagodas, temples and gardens followed including the Konjikido 金色堂, also called "Shining Hall" (Hikarido 光堂), a jewel box of a building intended to represent the Buddhist Pure Land and the final resting place of the Fujiwara lords.

Hiraizumi's golden age lasted for nearly 100 years, but after the fall of the Fujiwaras the town sank back into relative obscurity, and most of the buildings that gave the town its cultural prominence were destroyed. When the poet Matsuo Bashō saw the state of the town in 1689 he penned a famous haiku about the impermanence of human glory:

Natsu kusa ya! Tsuwamono-domo ga yume no ato

Ah, summer grasses!
All that remains
Of the warriors dreams.

The town's historical monuments and sites have been inscribed as
UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2011.

Fujiwara no Hidehira
藤原秀衡 (1122? - 1187)
was the third ruler of Northern Fujiwara in Mutsu Province, Japan, the grandson of Fujiwara no Kiyohira.

He offered shelter to the young Minamoto no Yoshitsune, who was escaping Kyoto. For many years, Hidehira was Yoshitsune's benefactor and protector, and it was from Hidehira's territory that Yoshitsune joined his brother at the start of the Genpei War. Later, when Yoshitsune incurred his brother Minamoto no Yoritomo's wrath, he returned to Hiraizumi, and lived undisturbed for a time. Yoshitsune was still Hidehira's guest when the latter died in 1187.

Hidehira had his son promise to continue to shelter Yoshitune and his retainer Benkei, but the son gave into Yoritomo and surrounded the castle with his troops, forcing Yoshitsune to commit seppuku (his head would be preserved in sake and given to Yoritomo) and resulting in the famous standing death of Benkei. Yoritomo destroyed the Fujiwara domain and killed Hidehira's son.

Hidehira's corpse became a mummy, preserved today within the Konjiki-dō of Chūson-ji.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

- quote -
秀衡塗 Hidehira-nuri Lacquerware
Designated a traditional craft of Iwate Prefecture, Hiraizumi’s Hidehira-nuri lacquerware has been widely manufactured in Japan. Its simple, refined aesthetic presents a reflection of the history and natural features of the region of its birth.
Its origin
traces back to Fujiwara Hidehira, who controlled the Tohoku area during the Heian Period (794-1185), including Hiraizumi in Iwate Prefecture. When he created great Buddhist structures in Hiraizumi such as the Konjikido (Golden Hall) of Chusonji Temple, he ordered the craftsmen he had invited from Kyoto to also manufacture new types of lacquerware. In scriptures made in the Kansei years (1789-1801) of the Edo Period, this episode is mentioned as “Hiraizumi’s Hidehira-nuri,” and it is also mentioned that the craft was highly prized by tea ceremony masters. The name still holds to this day.
With their striking glamour,
golden Hidehira bowls are said to be both the origin and symbol of Hiraizumi’s Hidehira-nuri. When Hidehira asked the craftsmen to make the new lacquerware, he specified that they should use locally produced gold and lacquer. The bowls were made by painting lacquer onto the base wood, decorating it with designs such as Genji-gumo (the Genji cloud), a popular wave-shaped cloud motif where clouds were represented with golden sheets, and kicho (lucky symbols) featuring paintings of lucky animals, and finally accented with gold sheets cut into rhombus shapes. This traditional decoration style used black, vermilion and gold as its fundamental colors, and the form still continues to this day.
Production of Hidehira-nuri
can be divided into four steps. First, according to the intended use of the product, timber such as tochi (Japanese horse chestnut) and keyaki (Japanese zelkova) are carefully dried out—a process that can take anywhere from one to ten years—to form the base wood. Lacquer is then painted onto the base wood and polished to form a foundation. The third step, painting, involves layers of lacquer being painted onto the foundation. In the final step, gold sheets are applied to the object to complete the design.
Hiraizumi’s Hirahide-nuri can take the form of tableware, traditional kokeshi Japanese dolls, smart phone cases and various other products. With its refined design, beautiful gloss of lacquer and glamorous golden sheets, Hirahide-nuri is a pleasure simply to gaze upon.
- source : japan-brand.jnto.go.jp/crafts -

. Mingei - Iwate Folk Art - 岩手県  .

. urushi 漆 laquer ware .


. Tsuwamono, Benkei and Yoshitsune  弁慶と義経   
More about Hiraizumi and the famous haiku by Basho

. Temple Motsuji (Mootsuuji 毛越寺)  
and the dance Ennen no Mai 延年の舞, another KIGO

. 弁慶の力餅 Benkei no Chikaramochi
Rice dumplings for the strong Benkei
Served as a local speciality.


Hiraizumi's other main festivals are

Hiraizumi Daimonji Festival, O-Bon, August 16
Autumn Fujiwara Festival November 1-3

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

Fudoo Doo 不動堂 Fudo Hall at Chuzon-Ji

source : www.chusonji.or.jp/guide

This hall has been erected in 1977.
On the 28th of each month fire rituals for Fudo are held here.
The statue of Fudo Myo-O dates back to 1684, offered by the wish of the daimyo of Sendai, Date Tsunamura 伊達綱村 (1659 - 1719) for peace in the realm.

. Fudō Myō-ō, Fudoo Myoo-Oo 不動明王 Fudo Myo-O
Acala Vidyârâja – Vidyaraja – Fudo Myoo .


hyakusho no ko ga noo narau Fujiwara sai

a farmer's child
learns to perform Noh ---
Fujiwara festival

Suzuki Takuo 鈴木田句男

yokagura no daija chiisaku tatamaruru

the eight-headed
serpent folds so small . . .
night performance of Noh

Shirato Harue 白戸春恵

More Japanese haiku about Hiraizumi


CLICK for more photos

Hikaridoo yori hitosuji no yukige mizu

from the Golden Hall
one straight line of
melt water

Arima Akito 有馬朗人 (1930 - )
Scientist and Haiku Poet
ISBN: 1-929820-01-1

. Arima Akito, the Haiku Poet  

External LINK

This month of March 2011 has been one of the greatest challenges faced by the people of the Tohoku. The magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami hit the heartland of the ancient Tohoku, and though the population has changed since then I say with a heavy heart that this was the historical area where many Emishi had lived in the distant past. To put this in historical context there was another earthquake and tsunami that occurred almost in the exact same location some one-thousand, one-hundred and forty years ago in AD 869.

The earthquake known as the Jougan Earthquake (Jogan Earthquake 貞観地震) and tsunami (occuring during Emperor Jougan's reign) that followed swept through what is now Taga Castle 多賀城 and the Castle town that had developed around it during and after the Tohoku Wars. In 869 there was much loss of life, and was the scene of great devastation again this month. At this time it may not be appropriate to address the loss of archaeological and historical sites but I cannot help but wonder how these sites have fared.
. Emishi, External LINKS


. Japan after the BIG earthquake March 11, 2011

- #hiraizumi #fujiwarahidehira #hidehira -


Gabi Greve said...

Sake 酒 for rituals and festivals


Gabi Greve said...

The Legend of “Zipangu,” the Land of Gold

“People on the Island of Zipangu (Japan) have tremendous quantities of gold. The King’s palace is roofed with pure gold, and his floors are paved in gold two fingers thick.” So wrote the Venetian merchant Marco Polo (1254-1324). Because of his book, The Travels of Marco Polo, Europeans believed that “Zipangu” was a land of gold, and Columbus later sailed across the Atlantic in search of it.

• The legend of Wāqwaq, the land of gold: It started with gold panned in rivers in Japan

Gold was first discovered in Japan in 749, in river deposits. In that year, about 38 kg of gold from the Oshu region in northeastern Honshu was presented to the capital city of Nara, to help gild a statue of the Buddha being built there. When the Great Buddha was completed in 752, about 439 kg of the gold covering it had come from Oshu. The glittering Buddha, measuring 15.8 meters in height, was viewed as an impressive display of Japan’s wealth by official delegations from the Kingdom of Silla (Korea) and Buddhist monks from Tang China and India.

- snip -
• How did Marco Polo learn about Japan’s gold?

During the time of China’s Sung dynasty (960-1279), Japan exported large quantities of gold to China, and in return imported copper coins, silk, ceramics and other goods. In 1124, a golden hall was constructed at Chuson-ji Temple in Oshu, and this made Chinese merchants even more interested in tales of Oshu gold.
Continued here

Gabi Greve said...

“Zipangu” was actually a land of silver, not gold!
In 1397, the Muromachi Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu had the Temple of the Golden Pavilion constructed in the Japanese capital, Kyoto. Much of the three-story pavilion was covered in glittering gold leaf, making it not just a gorgeously decorated Buddhist building, but also a symbol of Japan as a land of gold. The pavilion was also meant as a place to welcome delegates from China’s new Ming Empire. It certainly did impress them, because Ming China soon granted Yoshimitsu the right to trade with it. But the trade included little gold—most goods shipped from Japan were craftwork decorated with small amounts of gold (such as illustrated lacquer ware, screens and fans), and swords, copper and sulfur.

By the time the Portuguese arrived in Japan in the mid-1500s, there was very little gold left in the Oshu region. On the other hand, Japan had by then become one of the world’s top producers of silver, much of it from mines at Iwami Ginzan and Ikuno Ginzan. Some reports ranked Japanese silver production at one-third of global totals. The Japanese archipelago became known as the Islas Platareas (Islands of Silver), and actually, Japan used some of that silver to buy large quantities of gold from Ming China! The Portuguese and others must have asked themselves whatever happened to all that gold in “Zipangu.”
Later searches for legendary gold in Japan’s north

In the second half of the 1500s another legend arose among Portuguese seamen: that a Portuguese ship had washed ashore on an island rich in gold and silver in the Pacific Ocean near Japan. This was a newer version of the old tales of Japan as a collection of islands of gold. Spanish Manila galleons plying the ocean trade route between Manila in the Philippines and Acapulco in Mexico rode the north-flowing Kuroshio ocean current past Japan, and they were naturally on the lookout for the fabled islands of gold and silver. The Spanish king ordered a search for the islands, and an entrepreneur called Sebastián Vizcaíno set out to find them. He searched in vain from 1611 to 1613.

In 1643, Maerten Gerritsz de Vries, a navigator from Holland working for the Dutch East India Company, continued the search on his ship, the Castricum. He began developing trade routes with the Tartars of East Asia. He heard that gold and silver could be found on the island of Ezo (Hokkaido), and claimed it would be possible to exploit mines there. The Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies in Batavia was keen for the search to continue, but the collapse of the Ming dynasty of China in 1644 interrupted gold hunting plans in Ezo.

About two and a half centuries later, in 1898, large quantities of gold were discovered in the Horobetsu River and some of its tributaries in Hokkaido, not far from the Sea of Okhotsk. Over a period of five years, panning yielded about 1,875 kg of gold. If the Dutch East India Company had continued its search, the legend of Zipangu, the island of gold, might have gained new life.


Gabi Greve said...

Japan’s Golden Heritage
In old Japan, rulers became rich from gold mining and the gold trade. This made it possible for them to command the construction of gilded buildings and the manufacture of art objects. Gold never loses its glitter. So they believed that the use of gold was the best way to show respect to the Buddha and display wealth and power. Before long, artists and artisans developed new ways to decorate with gold, and this led to the flowering of a gold culture.

The Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu ruled Japan during the latter part of the 1300s. After he retired, he had this pavilion built as a place to receive delegates from Ming China. The second and third stories are gilded with gold leaf. Commonly called the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, its formal name is Rokuon-ji.

Kinkakuji 金閣寺

Gabi Greve said...

Using art and space to highlight the Shogun’s power

This room in Nijo-jo Castle was part of the living quarters of the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616) when he resided in Kyoto. Perhaps you can imagine him sitting formally here in front of the panel paintings gilded with gold leaf, having a conference with his daimyo underlings. Although the daimyo were powerful feudal lords themselves, they must have been awestruck.

Praying with gold
Trade between Japan and Sung China in the 12th century made Japan’s top military commander, Taira no Kiyomori, very rich. He donated this kyomon religious script to Itsukushima Shrine. Gold leaf is used to create a variety of decorative motifs. (Property of Itsukushima Shrine;)

Repairing with gold adds opulence to beauty

Cracks in this earthenware bowl were filled with lacquer, and then gold powder was sprinkled on the lacquer before it dried. This technique is called kin-zukuroi (repairing with gold). The artisan, Hon’ami Koetsu (1558-1637), intended the repaired part to represent water flowing from melting snow. (Akaraku ware tea bowl, named Seppo. Property of Hatakeyama Memorial Museum of Fine Art)
Art for a lover of gold

The warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598) liked gold so much he had a golden tearoom built for himself in his castle, Osaka-jo. The castle and tearoom were later destroyed, but this roof tile decorated with gold (left) was later unearthed from the site, offering a hint of the glorious gilded past.

Gabi Greve said...

Coins from the age of gold
Left: Tensho o-ban gold coin minted in the 16th century, under orders from Toyotomi Hideyoshi. About 17 cm long and 10 cm wide.
Middle: Man’en ko-ban coin from the 19th century.
Rignt: Keicho ko-ban coin from the 17th century.

Off to battle in style

It is said that the feudal lord of the Kaga Domain, Maeda Toshiie (1538-1599), went to battle wearing swords in red lacquer scabbards with sprinkled gold illustrations of dragons. The use of gold in craftsmanship reached a new height in 16th century Japan.

Gold and lacquer, the ultimate in refinement

Sprinkling flakes of gold on lacquer to make maki-e illustrations has been practiced without a break for more than 1,200 years. This Yatsuhashi maki-e raden suzuri-bako sprinkled gold and mother-of-pearl box was made to store an ink stone. The remarkably fresh motif is the work of Ogata Korin, known as “the designer of the Edo period.” It is considered one of the best works of the time


Gabi Greve said...

Making Gold Glitter More Beautifully
Gold leaf is made by beating gold until it is unbelievably thin. Sprinkled gold illustrations, or maki-e, are made by sprinkling gold powder on lacquer. These techniques have added glitter and beauty to Buddhist statues and artwork since ancient times. This article introduces two expert gold artisans who work in Ishikawa Prefecture, in the Hokuriku region.

Just one-10,000th of a millimeter “thick,” thanks to a special washi paper
Aoji Rokunosuke, gold leaf artisan
Gold leaf is made from gold that has tiny amounts of silver and copper added to it. It becomes thinner and thinner under a repetitive process. When the leaves are about one-1,000th of a millimeter in thickness, they are layered individually between sheets of a special Japanese paper called hakuda-shi. Then they are beaten thinner and thinner yet. At Sakuda, Aoji is in charge of this process. In the old days it was done by hand, but today they use a hakuda-ki machine.

The machine makes quite a racket, repeating its up-down motion 700 times a minute. The leaf is thinned and pushed out uniformly, slowly and surely, as Aoji moves the bundle of paper and gold under the hammering device. It is a little scary watching—it looks like the machine could clip his fingers at any moment. The gold leaf ends up just one- or two-10,000ths of a millimeter thin.

“Japan is the only country in the world where gold leaf is made as thin as this.” Aoji is obviously proud of his work. “The key is in the preparation of the hakuda-shi paper.”

A traditional washi paper called ganpi-shi is soaked in a liquid mixture of straw ash lye, persimmon juice and chicken eggs. Then Aoji taps it with the hakuda-ki machine, gently, time after time. The paper becomes shiny and wafer-thin, taking on the appearance of waxed paper. Under the tap-tapping of the hammer, and sandwiched between sheets of this satiny, perfectly smooth paper, the gold leaf spreads out without any micro lumps or valleys.

And so, the secret behind the superlative quality of Kanazawa gold leaf is in those finely made sheets of paper.


Gabi Greve said...

Gold dust sprinkled on lacquer
Omote Masanori, maki-e artisanb

Maki-e are “sprinkled pictures,” gold powder sprinkled to make decorative pictures on lacquer. The technique is uniquely Japanese.

Some of Japan’s most famous maki-e lacquer ware comes from Kanazawa, Wajima and Yamanaka, three places in Ishikawa Prefecture.

Omote Masanori has been making maki-e for half a century using the Yamanaka-nuri technique. His hands move carefully, precisely sketching a design on a lacquered container. Then he takes a bamboo tube and sprinkles gold powder from it onto the still-wet surface. He uses different particle sizes to give his illustrations a finer touch. “First I sprinkle on the larger particles, and make sure they don’t pile up one on the other. Then I fill in the gaps with small particles.”

He wipes off the excess with a brush. The sprinkling, wiping off and sprinkling again continues for some time.

When the lacquer dries, the entire container is covered with a thin coating of black lacquer, then dried again for more than a week. Next comes the togi-dashi process—burnishing the lacquer with charcoal to bring out the maki-e illustration.


Gabi Greve said...

A mischievous gold bar:
In your hand one moment, gone the next

Sado Gold Mine Museum, Niigata Prefecture

Today, gold mining conditions in the Edo period (1603-1867) have been recreated in one of the shafts. The Sado Gold Mine Museum is deep inside, and visitors are keen to test their skill trying to retrieve a gold bar.

The bar is quite big, at 7.5 × 3 × 30 cm, and quite heavy for one hand to hold— 12.5 kg. The museum challenges you to take it from a transparent box through a round hole with a diameter of about 8.5 cm, just 1 cm wider than the bar. Finding a way to do this is like solving a riddle, and just as fun. If you succeed you have to give it back, but they will give you a prize for your efforts.

Only about 600 people have been able to do it in the seven years the museum has been open. About 260,000 people visit the mine each year, so you can imagine how difficult the museum’s challenge is.

“You have to apply just the right amount of strength in your hand, and you need a really flexible wrist,” confides the manager, Inoue Nobuhiro. The youngest person to succeed was a girl of 12. Even if you fail, it is still fun to feel the bar’s sleek smooth surfaces and its surprising heaviness.

Panning for gold:
Slowly, following the old timers’ techniques
The Yu-No-Oku Museum of Gold Mining History, Kai Ogon Village, Yamanashi Prefecture


Gabi Greve said...

Liquid Gold Rising in Japan’s Hot Springs

The Hishikari mine is the only gold mine in Japan in operation today. In the country’s long history of mining, there has never been a more productive gold mine, and never a mine yielding better quality gold. The reason? It all has to do with volcanic hot springs, and geological mechanisms perhaps unique to Japan.

Sado Kinzan
was Japan’s biggest gold mine for almost 400 years, beginning in the early 1600s. Another major discovery was made in Hokkaido in 1915, and the result was the Konomai gold mine. But these and other deposits had basically given out by the 1980s, and the mines shut down one after the other. Today, gold is mined in Japan only at Hishikari in Kagoshima in southern Kyushu.

Hishikari is now one of the best gold mines in the world. The average grade is 40 grams of gold to one ton of ore. A profit can be made at 2 grams per ton, so the gold at Hishikari was certainly a major find. Since digging began in 1985, the mine has produced seven to ten tons of gold per year—165 tons over the last 23 years. That is more than twice the amount produced at Sado and Konomai combined, making Hishikari the most important in Japan’s long history of gold mining.

The question is: how much remains in the ground there? Geologists suggest a minimum of almost 150 tons of gold. All of the gold produced from other mines in Japan throughout history comes to around 1,000 tons, and if we add the approximately 300 tons of gold from Hishikari, you can see just how rich its veins are.

Gabi Greve said...

yuuhi sasu raden suzushiki hikaridoo

in the evening sunshine
the Raden inlay feels so cool -
Hikari-Do hall

小林洋子 Kobayashi Yoko
raden 螺鈿 mother-of-pearl - inlay

Gabi Greve said...

- 大鏡山 Daikyozan 南蔵院 Nanzo-In 薬師寺 Yakushi-Ji -
豊島区高田1-19-16 / 1 Chome-19-16 Takada, Toshima ward
This temple was founded in the Muromachi period by Enjoo Biku 円成比丘 the Nun Enjo (? - 1376).
She had meandered on a pilgrimage in Japan and finally settled here in a small hermitage. She had gotten the statue of Yakushin Nyorai from Hidehira in legendary circumstances.
The main statue is 薬師如来 Yakushi Nyorai, from the time of Prince Shotoku Taishi. It had been in the possession of 藤原秀衡 Fujiwara Hidehira from Hiraizumi.

Gabi Greve said...

Hidehira Kaido 秀衡街道 Hidehira Highway
秀衡道 Hidehira Michi
Ogon no Michi 黄金の道 the Gold Road
From 北上市 Kitakami city in Iwate via the town of 西和賀町 Nishiwaga to 横手市 Yokote city in Akita.

. Fujiwara no Hidehira 藤原秀衡 (1122 - 1187) .