Education and Research on Hiraizumi Studies Department
The operation of this Department is based in the Iwate University Center for Hiraizumi Studies (the Center) that was established on April 1, 2012. The goal of the center is comprehensive understanding of the meaning expressed through the Hiraizumi garden culture, created as the utopian Buddhist Pure Land. The plan to establish the center started when Iwate University and the Iwate Board of Education held the “Hiraizumi Culture Forum” as part of the “East Asian Regional Exchange and the Formation of Traditional Japanese Culture” research project which began in 2005. After that, the project entitled “The Formation of a Base for Integrative Research on the World Heritage Hiraizumi Culture” further promoted research on Hiraizumi. Starting this academic year, the Center will be in charge of the Education and Research on Hiraizumi Studies Department of the Organization for Revitalization of the Sanriku Region and Regional Development.
The accumulation of research on Hiraizumi did not necessarily lead to it being recognized at an international level. The Center, which is comprised of an all Iwate University team, began to place more emphasis on scientific research within its network of Hiraizumi researchers. And with the help of institutions including the Iwate Board of Education, Hiraizumi Board of Education, Iwate Higher Education Consortium (Iwate University, Iwate Prefectural University, Morioka University, Fuji University, Iwate Medical University), and universities throughout the world, “Hiraizumi Studies,” although firmly based on past research achievements, now includes the study of Hiraizumi culture from interdisciplinary and international perspectives. Through such efforts, the Center has worked to clarify the meaning of Hiraizumi culture in East Asia, in particular to academically investigate Japanese Middle Ages culture, and to examine the unexplained aspects of ancient Chinese garden culture. Another goal is to contribute to regional development through the cultural heritage of Hiraizumi. Through conferences, symposiums, and publications, the center aims to spread the results of its research on Hiraizumi and significantly contribute to the promotion of the local region.
Project Development and System for Implementation
Researchers from the Faculties of Education (history and Chinese studies), Humanities and Social Sciences (history), Science and Engineering (scientific instrumental analysis) are expected to participate in multifaceted, interdisciplinary projects. The Center is autonomous in promoting such research, which is the distinguishing characteristic of Hiraizumi studies. In addition, the Center cooperates with the Iwate Board of Education, which is actually carrying out excavations of ruins, and the Iwate Higher Education Consortium, which supports researchers involved in scholarly studies of folklore and religious history. In order to further advance research on traditional Hiraizumi culture, the Center aims to make the best use of the strengths and human resources of each organization.
Overseas research organizations including the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Zhejiang Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, Archeology Institute of Fujian Museum, Institute of Archaeology of Shandong Province, Institute of Cultural Heritage at Northwest University, School of History and Culture at Shandong University, Confucius Institute of the Qufu Normal University, and the Confucius Research Institute are presently engaged in collaborative research with the Center to investigate the international scholarly import of Hiraizumi culture both within and outside of Japan.