Toshogu Shrine Nikko

Toshogu Shrine Nikko
More than 1 000 years ago, a Buddhist priest named Shodo Shonin crossed the Daiya River on his way to Mount Nantai and founded the first temple at Nikko. Today, 103 buildings and structures make up an area known as the “Shrines and Temples of Nikko”, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After our drive up to Kegon Falls, John and I headed back into town to see one of the site’s most prominent shrines, Toshogu (東照宮).

Unlike the simple architecture of most of Japan’s shrines and temples, Toshogu is exquisitely ornate, decorated with gold leaf, bright lacquer paints and intricate carvings. The mash up of Buddhist and Shinto elements with a strong Chinese influence is a circus of texture and color, for which appreciation varies according to personal taste: some love it, others hate it. I found it fascinating.

The Nioman Gate, guarded by two Nio figures who represent the first and last letter of the Sanskrit aplhabet – one open-mouthed for “ah” and one closed-mouthed for “un”.

Toshogu is the final resting place of the warlord Ieyasu Tokugawa, who founded the shogunate that ruled Japan for 250 years, until 1868. Comprised of no less than 19 buildings and structures, the elaborate complex was just a simple mausoleum when Ieyasu was enshrined in 1616. Twenty years later, his grandson employed some 15 000 craftsmen who worked for two years to enlarge the shrine into what it is today.

The Granite Gate.

And still, the work continues. Since ...... (follow the instructions below for accessing the rest of this article).
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Sights Map

Guide Name: Toshogu Shrine Nikko
Guide Location: Japan » Nikko
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (B))
Sight(s) featured in this guide: Toshogu   Shinkyo Bridge  
Author: Simone Armer
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