This picture was taken in May 2008 when I travelled through Tōhoku together with my Japanese wife, at times in the footsteps of Japan’s most famous poet, Matsuo Basho, on a journey he took in the spring of 1689 and during which he wrote "The Narrow Road to the Deep North", one of the major texts of classical Japanese literature. We were quite shocked by the severe earthquake and tsunami that hit Tōhoku on 11 March 2011, almost three years after our first visit to this beautiful area and its kind people, and our thoughts go out to all those affected by this terrible disaster.
Chūson-ji is a Buddhist temple in Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture, Japan. It is the head temple of the Tendai sect in Tohoku (northeastern Japan). The Tendai sect claims that the temple was founded in 850 by Ennin, the third chief abbot of the sect but most scholars believe that Chūson-ji was founded by Fujiwara no Kiyohira in about 1100. There is no archaeological or historical record of Buddhist activity in this area before 1100.
The Konjikido or 'Golden Hall' is a mausoleum containing the mummified remains of the leaders of the northern Fujiwara clan who ruled much of northern Japan in the 12th century. It is one of two buildings that survive from the original Chūson-ji temple complex, the other being a sutra repository.
The famous haiku poet Matsuo Basho visited the Konjikido in 1689 and wrote the following haiku poem about the place:
The rains of May