Category: Hiraizumi.

Registration of Hiraizumi as World Heritage site should encourage disaster victims

Chusonji Temple, which has been approved for registration as a World Heritage Site, is seen in the foreground in this aerial photo taken over Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture, on June 4, 2011. (Mainichi)

HIRAIZUMI, Iwate — UNESCO’s decision to register Buddhist temples and the landscape in this ancient town as a World Heritage site is expected to give courage to victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Honshu.

Toshikazu Yamada, head priest at Chusonji Temple in Hiraizumi, feels something auspicious in the decision made by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s World Heritage Committee.

“I feel the designation is fate as the area is heading toward disaster recovery. I’d like to try hard to give disaster victims a beam of hope,” he told a news conference.

A cheer rose from among 200 people who attended a celebration at the Hiraizumi Municipal Government headquarters on the morning of June 26 as an ornamental ball hanging from the ceiling was broken and a banner bearing a congratulatory message dropped from it.

Hiraizumi Deputy Mayor Hideki Takiyama, third from left, and other local officials and temple priests break an ornamental ball at the municipal government headquarters on June 26. (Mainichi)

Hiraizumi Deputy Mayor Hideki Takiyama, third from left, and other local officials and temple priests break an ornamental ball at the municipal government headquarters on June 26. (Mainichi)

During the ceremony, Deputy Mayor Hideki Takiyama said, “We’re determined to preserve and make effective use of the heritage site to show how attractive Hiraizumi is to the world.”

Motsuji Temple spokesperson Akihisa Fujisato expressed his hope that the registration of Hiraizumi as a World Heritage site will emotionally support disaster victims. “I hope the designation will inspire the victims. That’s a mission that Hiraizumi should fulfill.”

Numerous tourists visited Hiraizumi on June 26, the day after UNESCO announced the decision. A souvenir shop in the area sold cake rolls for 625 yen each, a price set to mark the designation date of June 25, as well as lucky bags, each of which contained 2,500 yen worth of goods, for 2,000 yen.

Tourists take a snapshot in front of Chusonji Temple in Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture, on June 26. (Mainichi)

Tourists take a snapshot in front of Chusonji Temple in Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture, on June 26. (Mainichi)

“We’d like to develop the town to reflect its position as a World Heritage site, while supporting efforts to restore disaster-hit areas,” a store manager said.

Katsuhisa Ichino, 51, a civil servant from Tokyo, said he visited Hiraizumi on his way home from Akita Prefecture, after learning the town will be recognized as a World Heritage site. “I hope it’ll spur efforts to restore disaster-ravaged areas,” the government worker said as he took photos of a banner bearing a congratulatory message in front of JR Hiraizumi Station.

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Category: Hiraizumi