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A small park shrine in Hiraizumi


Iwa ni shimiiru
Semi no koe


This pervasive silence
Enhanced yet by cicadas simmering
Into the Temple Rocks dissipating

Ah, tranquility!
Penetrating the very rock,
a cicada's voice

How still it is here—
Stinging into the stones,
The locust's trill

Matsuo Bashô (松尾芭蕉) composed this Haiku at Risshakuji, commonly known as Yamadera. Included in "Okuno Hosomichi."

This morning, we drove through Ichinoseki to Hiraizumi where we went to the Chuzonji temple on the hill with a treasury containing fabulous 13th century gold sutras and buddhas and a gold pagoda full of golden Buddhas, which had been buried when the clan chief of the Fujiwara was killed along with his family.

Pathway into the Chuzonji temple complex

Let me complete the talk of Hiraizumi and its golden relics with Basho's story of Yoshitune, the warrior who precipitated the downfall of the Fujiwara clan of Haraizumi, whose golden relics we saw there unearthed at the temple. It is a story that sets the stage for all samurai movies. Yoshitune left Hiraizumi to fight with his half brother, Yoritomo the great warlord who founded the first shogunate. However Yoritomo became both worried by the power of the Fujiwaras and jealous of Yoshitune's skill and fame, and the stage was set for a classic betrayal when Yoshitune returned to Hiraizumi. Seeing no escape Yoshitune killed his family, set his castle on fire and disemboweled himself and his retainer was stuck with a porcupine of arrows defending his master. Yoritomo then ordered the Fujiwaras to be wiped out and the temple at Hiraizumi to be destroyed, where the buried relics remained until they were unearthed. Legend says the real warriors were not killed but fled to Mongolia leaving their doubles to suffer in their stead.

with Basho

Some of the artifacts from the treasury

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