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The pond at Kanjizaio-in looking north across the central island toward the site of the Amida halls..

Kanjizaiō-in (観自在王院) refers to a former temple in Hiraizumi founded by the wife of Fujiwara no Motohira, the second of the Northern Fujiwara rulers. It sat directly across the Frontier Way from Enryu-ji and Kasho-ji, her husband's twin temples. Her temple shared the Pure Land theme with her husband's temples, and both had large ponds with variable coastlines surrounded by Pure Land gardens. The pond was fed by a stream from Mōtsū-ji. Both Mōtsū-ji and Kanjizaiō-in also had large earthen walls surrounding their compounds with majestic entrance gates. Where the temples at Mōtsū-ji were elaborate and opulent, Kanjizaiō-in was much plainer and simpler.

The buildings at Kanjizaiō-in consisted of a Large Amida Hall and a Small Amida Hall. There were bridges from the entrance gate on the south to an island in the center of the lake then to the Amida Halls on the north. There may have been a pagoda on the east as well. The Large Amida Hall contained an Amida triad and its walls were painted with scenes of Kyoto. The walls of the Small Amida Hall were decorated with poems written by Fujiwara no Norinaga much like the walls at Enryu-ji. It is possible that Motohira's wife lived in the smaller hall and worshipped in the larger one. Some scholars suppose that Kanjizaiō-in was built after Motohira's death as a memorial to him.

Both Mōtsū-ji and Kanjizaiō-in were destroyed by fire in 1226 following the downfall of the Fujiwara dynasty. None of the buildings have been rebuilt. Today there is a large grassy park with the pond still in place as it was in the 12th century. Admission is free.

The gardens are a nationally designated Place of Scenic Beauty.[1] They form part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Historic Monuments and Sites of Hiraizumi.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "旧観自在王院庭園". Agency for Cultural Affairs. Retrieved 10 February 2012. 
  • For an explanation of terms concerning Japanese Buddhism, Japanese Buddhist art, and Japanese Buddhist temple architecture, see the Glossary of Japanese Buddhism.

External links[edit]

38°59′19″N 141°06′37″E / 38.988517°N 141.110333°E / 38.988517; 141.110333Coordinates: 38°59′19″N 141°06′37″E / 38.988517°N 141.110333°E / 38.988517; 141.110333