Commissioned by the wife of Fujiwara no Motohira (second
lord of Hiraizumi), the Kanjizaioin Temple Site has been selected
as a national Special Historic Site. Kanjizaioin Temple was originally
composed of one small and one large Amida hall. The Large Amida
Hall housed an Amida triad consisting of the Amida Buddha and two
bodhisattvas, Kannon and Shisei. The four walls were covered with
murals depicting scenes of the capital at Kyoto, the dais was silver,
and the balustrade was burnished gold. It clearly reflected the
lavish tastes of Motohira's wife. Excavations have revealed that
the temple was 120m east-west and 240m north-south, forming a well-proportioned
rectangle. Entering through the southern gate, worshippers saw the
pond called Maizuru ga Ike, which has now been restored. The small
lake is roughly square, about 90m on each side. There is a small
island slightly south of the center, and the rock formation on the
west side elegantly expresss a rocky coastline. Water flowed into
the pond like a waterfall from an arrangement of large river stones
to the north. All of this shows that Maizuru ga Ike was constructed
according to the rules set out by Japan's Heian era (794-1192) gardening
classic, Sakuteiki ("Treatise on Garden Making").
While small, this was clearly a first-rate Heian Pure Land garden.
Sadly, Kanjizaioin Temple was consumed by fire that sprung from armed conflict in 1573. The only buidling that remains is a reconstruction of the Large Amida Hall from the early 1700s. However, the Pure Land garden centered on Maizuru ga Ike Pond was miraculously almost competely preserved underground, and has been restored as a historic park.