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  • Thumbnail for Motsuji, pond garden, Hiraizumi, view 1.
    Motsuji, pond garden, Hiraizumi, view 1.

    In 1117, Fujiwara Motohira was granted permission to construct a major temple, Motsuji, at Hiraizumi, in Iwate Prefecture. Motsuji burned in the late 12th century and was not rebuilt, although the foundation stones are still visible and the garden pond that was built in front of the temple is still there. The pond had been silted up over the millennium since its building, but it has been cleared over the past several decades and restored to a very close approximation of its original appearance. The garden pond is fairly large, measuring nearly 200 yards long along the east-west axis, and nearly 100 yards wide north to south, in front of the temple, which was south facing at the northwestern side of the pond. This image shows a formation of craggy rocks that jut into the pond in its southeastern corner, with the vertical rock creating a strong contrast with the pond, itself.

  • Thumbnail for Motsuji, pond garden, Hiraizumi, view 2
    Motsuji, pond garden, Hiraizumi, view 2

    View across the pond of the garden at the site of the Heian temple at Hiraizumi, Motsuji. All that remains of the original temple at Motsuji are its foundation stones, but the pond is essentially as it was when built. During the last half of the 20th c., centuries of silt build-up were removed from the pond and from the stream bed feeding the pond, returning the pond to its original form. This view is from the northeastern bank of the pond, looking to the east. Recent research suggests that the stones that are layered along the bank of the pond here were brought a great distance to be placed here, perhaps from the shore of the Inland Sea.

  • Thumbnail for Motsuji, pond garden, Hiraizumi, view 3
    Motsuji, pond garden, Hiraizumi, view 3

    View across the pond of the garden at the site of the Heian temple at Hiraizumi, Motsuji. This view is from the east - southeast bank of the pond, looking across the spit of land that curls out into the pond. The pond is, of course, artificial, i.e., it is a manmade construction. From that point of view, this peninsula of earth reaching out into the pond becomes as an interesting, deliberate sculptural form and, perhaps, invites comparison with other forms of earthworks created by artists at various times and places in human history.

  • Thumbnail for Motsuji, pond garden, Hiraizumi, view 4
    Motsuji, pond garden, Hiraizumi, view 4

    View across the pond of the garden at the site of the Heian temple at Hiraizumi, Motsuji This view is from the north side of the pond, looking south across the pond. Across the pond, on the south side, is the group of rocks seen in view 1., including the small island with its strong vertical rock element.