The Nikko Toshogu Shrine is arguably one of the most important religious sites in Japan and is located in the forests of Tochigi Prefecture. The shrine is the final resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the samurai leader who united Japan in the early 1600s and the first ruler of the Tokugawa shogunate of the same name, which ruled Japan for over 250 years until 1868.
Toshogu Shrine has been undergoing a wide-ranging renovation program since 2007 and is expected to last until March 2024. Works are gradual and isolated to avoid disruption, so it is likely the impact of any visit is minimal.
Originally a relatively simple mausoleum, Toshogu was expanded in the first half of the 16th century by Ieyasu's grandson Iemitsu to create the spectacular complex that can be visited today. The shrine complex consists of more than a dozen buildings, which have been refined with countless wood carvings and large amounts of gold leaf. This is very unusual as there is usually an emphasis on simplicity in shrine architecture. Toshogu contains both Shinto and Buddhist elements. The wood carving of the monkeys who see no evil, speak no evil, and hear no evil is best known.
With over 500 intricate carvings, the Yonmeimon is known as one of the most beautiful gates in Japan. Rows of elaborate golden dragons are carved onto the huge gate that marks the entrance towards the main shrine building. Yonmeimon gate is rightfully designated as a National Treasure, and is also known as the “Main Gate of the Imperial Court”.
Nemurineko, or Sleeping Cat, is a detailed wooden carving by Hidari Jingoro. The carving depicts a cat falling asleep while surrounded by flowers. Nemurineko is located at the East Corridor of Toshogu Shrine, where it's easily spotted by the crowds of visitors clamoring to take a photo of it.
One of Toshogu Shrine’s most famous sights, the lifelike wooden carving of three monkeys are located at the stable building within the complex. The monkeys represent those who hear, speak, and see no evil — a common saying in East Asian culture.
Standing at the entrance to Nikko's shrines, this sacred bridge actually belongs to Futarasan Shrine, however, visitors to Nikko Toshogu Shrine will cross it. It is considered one of the three finest bridges in Japan.Discover Futarasan Shrine's Shinkyo Bridge.
Nikko Toshogu Shrine's annual grand festival features the Yabusame tradition—horseback archery—and the Togyosai where port..
Designated as a World Heritage site since 1999, thousands of locals gather at Toshogu Shrine to parade in Nikko’s traditional ..
Yabusame Archery Competition at the Nikko Shunki Reitaisai Grand Spring Festival.
Traditional Japanese ryokan and its facilities and the walk along the main street of Nikko Town.
Nikko Kanaya Hotel commands the best location for access to Nikko’s World Heritage Site. You can enjoy every bit of Nikko’s ch..
If you stay at the Kanaya Hotel, I recommend that you become an “early bird”. You will never forget the mystic view of the Shi..
Try Nikko's specialty dish of yuba at Honke Yamabiko Restaurant, steps from the entrance to Toshogu Shrine
Honke Yamabiko is a wonderful noodle shop conveniently located next to the World Heritage shrines and temples in Nikko. Stop in..
There is an excellent restaurant specializing in eel in Nikko called Sawamoto. In fact, their broiled eel is the best I have ever..
Among Nikko’s many world-renowned temples, stands the vibrantly colored Rinnoji (輪王寺), which was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 19..
Tamozawa Imperial Villa is a former imperial summer residence in Nikkō, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. It was constructed for Emperor Taishō in 1899 and..
The Kegon Falls are located on Lake Chuzenji in Nikko National Park in Tochigi Prefecture. The 97-meter-high falls are one of Japan's top three waterfalls..
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