Gikeido (Yoshitsune Hall) in Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture



Gikeido (Yoshitsune Hall)

The tragic end for young hero Minamoto no Yoshitsune came in Hiraizumi

Takadachi is the name of a hill overlooking the Kitakami River. A significant portion of the hill has been eroded away by the river, but the area was a strategic defensive location since at least the rise of the first lord of Hiraizumi, Fujiwara no Kiyohira, around the turn of the twelfth century. Minamoto no Yoshitsune spent part of his youth in Hiraizumi, and returned here after a fall out with his elder brother, Yoritomo, eventual first shogun of Japan. He sought refuge with benefactor of his youth, Fujiwara no Hidehira, the lord of Hiraizumi and grandson of Kiyohira, and was given a place to live atop Takadachi. The hill is also known as Hogandate and Hangandate, both references to Yoshitsune's rank and residence here.

In 1189, Hidehira's successor, Yasuhira, caved in to pressure by Yoritomo to hand over or kill the fugitive Yoshitsune. When Yasuhira attacked Yoshitsune at Takadachi, rather than being captured or killed by his enemies the Minamoto lord dispatched of his family before falling on his sword and committing suicide.

On the top of the hill, in the third year of the Tenna Era (1683), the fourth generation Sendai feudal lord Date Tsunamura built Gikeido (Yoshitsune Hall) inside which is enshrined a wooden statue of Minamoto no Yoshitsune in remembrance of him. The view from Takadachi, said to be the greatest view of Hiraizumi, is a place where haiku poet, Matsuo Basho, composed haiku. The view opens out to the east with the gently flowing Kitakami River and Mt. Tabashine (Mt. Higashi). To the west is the basin which was the battlefield of the Zenkunen Gosannen War and the legend of the last stand of Benkei at which the Koromo River merges with the Kitakami River.

At present, Gikeido and Takadachi have become an enclave of the town of the Motsuji Temple.

A view of Mt. Tabashine from Takadachi