平泉の文化遺産を世界遺産へ
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Brief Summary of World Heritage

The UNESCO World Heritage
 The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (the World Heritage Convention), was adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1972. The World Heritage consists of properties including monuments, sites, and natural features or geographical formations as defined by the Convention. The Convention additionally sets forth international rules for the conservation and protection of this heritage.
 To be inscribed in the World Heritage, a nominated property must be judged by the World Heritage Committee to be both unique and of universal value. It must also be protected by effective and thorough conservation and preservation measures.



Wordl Heritage Categories
 The UNESCO World Heritage is divided into three categories: Cultural Heritage, Natural Heritage, and Mixed Sites.
World Heritage

As of July 2013, there are 981 World Heritage properies: 759 cultural, 193 natural, and 29 mixed.




Evaluation of the Cultural The Cultural Heritage of Hiraizumi
 The town and environs of Hiraizumi are home to Buddhist temples, gardens, and other sites originally built by the Oshu Fujiwara family in the twelfth century. Among these are the Konjikido Hall of Chuson-ji Temple (National Treasure), Motsu-ji Temple Garden (Special Place of Scenic Beauty), Chuson-ji Temple (Special Historic Site), the Motsu-ji Temple Grounds and Subsidiary Tutelary Shrine Sites (Special Historic Site), Muryokoin Temple Site (Special Historic Site), and Yanagi no Gosho and Hiraizumi Sites (Historic Site).
 Hiraizumi and surrounding municipalities are working together with Iwate Prefecture and Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs toward the inscription of Hiraizumi's cultural heritage as a World Heritage property.

World Heritage Hiraizumi

The Cultural Heritage of Hiraizumi was inscribed on the World Heritage List (i.e. to become a World Heritage) at the 35th session of the World Heritage Committee, which was held in Paris, France in June 2011.

Property Name: Hiraizumi – Temples, Gardens and Archaeological Sites Representing the Buddhist Pure Land –
Component Parts: Chuson-ji, Motsu-ji, Kanjizaio-in Ato, Muryoko-in Ato, Mt. Kinkeisan

1. Why is Hiraizumi a World Heritage site?
  • In Hiraizumi, there is a well-preserved group of various temples and gardens that were created based on Buddhism, particularly the thought of Pure Land Buddhism.
  • These temples and gardens, which were an attempt to create an ideal world, were the product of both influence from abroad and unique developments achieved here in Japan.
  • The way of representation for the ideal world based on Buddhism in Hiraizumi is very unique.

2. To be inscribed on the World Heritage List: Outstanding Universal Value
 In order to be inscribed on the World Heritage List, the property must have “Outstanding Universal Value”. In order to justify this, the property should be demonstrated that; 1) it is satisfied at least one criterion of ten of the World Heritage Committee; 2) it has integrity and authenticity; and 3) it is protected with an effective management system for preservation.

3. The value of the “World Heritage of Hiraizumi”
Hiraizumi is justified by criteria ii) and vi).
[The interchange of ideology and culture expressed on the property in Hiraizumi]
Criterion ii: Exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural sphere of the world, with respect to developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town planning or landscape design.
 The gardens and temples of Hiraizumi were created as a reflection of garden design and Buddhist temple architectural styles that developed uniquely in Japan, fused the Buddhism which came to Japan through China and Korean peninsula with an indigenous nature worship.
 The unique Japanese Buddhism, particularly the Pure Land thought, which was created on faith in Amida’s Pure Land of Utmost Bliss, became the source for establishing various styles of Amida hall and unique Pure Land gardens.
 The group of temples with Pure Land gardens was created on the basis of unique design and expressed various forms of Buddhist Pure Land on the earth. They were visually connected in a narrow range, and also influenced other temples and gardens, such as those in Kamakura.
[A representation of Pure Land thought that holds Outstanding Universal Significance]
Criterion vi: Be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance.
 The Pure Land thought, which had important significance in the creation of temples and gardens, has most certainly been inherited by the religious ceremonies and folk performing arts that are still practiced in Hiraizumi today.
 The folk performing art of “Kawanishi Nenbutsu Kenbai”, which is directly connected to Buddhist Pure Land thought, is still performed in the compound of Chuson-ji Temple.
 Also, every January 20 in the Jogyodo Hall of Motsu-ji Temple, after the “Jogyozanmai” prayers are performed, the ritual dance of “Ennen no Mai” is enacted to pray for recovery of people’s vitality for longevity.



Evaluation of the Cultural Heritage of Hiraizumi
 Hiraizumi was a political and administrative center established in the 12th century with the aim of creating a Buddhist ideal world in the northern part of Japan's main island of Honshu.
 The group of temples and Pure Land gardens comprising the property of Hiraizumi is a unique creation born out of the transmission of Buddhism from China and Korea to the farthest northern reaches of Japan in the course of the 6th to the 12th centuries, and its development of unique characteristics in this process through fusion with indigenous Japanese animistic beliefs.
 Especially significant was the rise, in the context of the mappo beliefs prevalent in medieval Japan, of Buddhist Pure Land thought centered on the worship of Amida Buddha's Pure Land of Utmost Bliss-the basis of the effort at Hiraizumi to create a spatial representation on this earth of a Buddhist Pure Land.
 The temples, gardens and archaeological sites of Hiraizumi are indicative of an interchange of human values attendant upon the transmission and spread of Buddhism and Buddhist Pure Land thought, and which had a decisive impact on temple architecture and gardens. Not only the surviving above-ground elements, but also the archaeological remains preserved beneath the earth are outstanding examples of an important stage of human history in the fields of design and techniques of architecture and garden.
 Moreover, Buddhist Pure Land thought that formed the creative wellspring of this architecture and garden design, and which engendered views of life and death based on a concept of the present world and the world to come, has also been faithfully inherited and preserved by contemporary religious rituals and folk performing arts in Hiraizumi.



  The nomination dossier explains the crucial concept of the Pure Land (the Western Paradise of Buddhism) in the following manner:
  Lands or worlds created by the vows and practice of a Buddha in pursuit of enlightenment, free from the defiling of the material world. The term "Pure Land" is commonly thought to refer specifically to the Pure Land of Utmost Bliss of Amida Buddha, but in East Asian Buddhism, the world of the absolute and eternal enlightenment of the Buddhas, the worlds of the greater and lesser bodhisattvas, and the world of sages and ordinary human beings were conceived as existing as a unity in which all comprised Buddhist Pure Lands.
  Particularly in the unique form of Buddhism that developed in Japan in the course of the 6th to 12th centuries, it was believed to be possible to achieve a Buddhist Pure Land-the utmost, ideal world of Buddha-on this earth
  The buildings, gardens and archaeological sites composing the property of Hiraizumi are based on a syncretic Buddhism that had developed its unique character through fusion with indigenous Japanese forms of nature worship (often characterized as "Shinto") and which embodied Buddhist Pure Land thought, especially those associated with faith in Amida's Pure Land of Utmost Bliss.
  This had arisen concurrently with the mappo beliefs (the latter period of the dharma).




  In his dedication pledge for the construction of Chuson-ji Temple, Kiyohira, the first lord of the Oshu-Fujiwara clan, declared:
  “Since ancient times, many lives have been lost in Oshu, whether friend or foe, human or animal. Their spirits have long left this world and their bones have returned to dust; yet I wish to console the spirits of those whose innocent lives have been taken and guide them to the Pure Land each time I ring this bell at Chuson-ji.”
  The Constitution of UNESCO declares that “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” This spirit of the pursuit of peace precisely coincides with that of the Pure Land ideal that Kiyohira and his successors strove to realize in this world.
  A universal spirit of wishing for peace thrives deeply in the Cultural Heritage of Hiraizumi, a nominee for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

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