It was rebuilt in the 12th century by Fujiwara no Kiyohira, founder of the Northern Fujiwara clan, with prayers for lasting peace after the deaths of many of his family members in two major wars.Today it has the finest collection of Buddhist art in eastern Japan, some 3,000 items including National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties.
The ancient Mōtsūji temple was built in the late 12th century, by the second and third lords of the Northern Fujiwara clan, Motohira and Hidehira.
It is said to have eclipsed the grandeur of the nearby Chūsonji temple, with the shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo claiming there was nothing finer in all Japan.
Koiwai Farm was established in 1891 with the aim of creating a fully-fledged Western style farm.
In 2017, the government of Japan designated 21 of its buildings as Important Cultural Properties, noting that the site as a whole is “indispensable for understanding the development of modern farming in Japan.”
High resolution Digital Archiving of First-generation Cattle in Modern Japanese Dairy Farming from Old Glass plate negatives
Yanagi Palace Site
Here stood the Yanagi Palace, home of the first and second Northern Fujiwara lords, Kiyohira and Motohira.
This site has yielded the richest archaeological finds of the Hiraizumi monument group, demonstrating that it was the primary seat of power of the Northern Fujiwara clan.
Bishamon Hall at Takkoku no Iwaya
In the year 801, Tamuramaro defeated the rebel leader Akuro’ō in this area. In thanks for divine protection, he built this cliffside temple venerating Bishamon-ten, a Buddhist guardian deity. Patterned after the Kiyomizu Temple platform that Tamuramaro had built in Kyoto, this hall stands on many stout posts. There are 108 statues of Bishamon-ten within the temple.
Remains of Kanjizaioin
The remains of Kanjizaiō-in are adjacent to the Motsūji temple. In the mid-12th century, the wife of Fujiwara no Motohira converted her residence into this temple. The Pure Land Garden was designed in accordance with Japan’s oldest landscape garden manual, the Sakuteiki. Remains from the Heian period are well preserved even today.
Remains of Muryokoin
The Muryōkōin temple, modeled on the famous Byōdōin temple in Kyoto, was built by Hidehira, third lord of the Northern Fujiwara clan. Although the Amida Hall burned down long ago, the remains of its posts and its wing corridors show that it was designed on a larger scale than the Byōdōin.
Honedera Village Estate Site
The Honedera village estate provided economic support for the Scripture House at the Chūsonji temple.
An illustrated map of Honedera from the 12th century shows temples, shrines, grottoes and other features that remain today in very good condition. The landscape of that time has been passed down almost intact.