In Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, there is an old road leading to Takino Shrine known as the Takino Kodo. Along the way, you will find structures like the Kaizan-do and Kitano Shrine that are enjoyable to explore as you head towards Takino Shrine.
The old Takino Kodo road is charming and quite tasteful. Its stone paving is lined with Japanese cedar trees, creating a divine atmosphere that is perfectly suited to the area. The fresh air and environment make it a good hiking trail and is only around 25 to 35 minutes from the famous Shinkyo Bridge.
Kaizan-do is dedicated to Shodo Shonin, the founder of Mt. Nikko, and features a five-storied pagoda at the rear of the temple that marks his grave. Next to the Kaizan-do lies a temple known as the Kannon-do and is famous as a place to pray for safe childbirth.
At the foot of the Kannon-do lie many shogi chess pieces. All of the pieces are the kyosha lance piece. Since the kyosha piece only moves straight forward, it's said that pregnant women who take one home and place it on their kamidana home altar will be assured of a straightforward delivery. Mothers are then supposed to return the piece with their child's name written underneath it.
Built in 820, Takino Shrine was the main objective for many worshippers who came to Nikko and almost everyone made use of the old Takino path to reach it. Nowadays the path is a lot more sedate with much-reduced pedestrian traffic but the spiritual atmosphere here still remains very impressive to this day.
An excellent place to hike and enjoy the natural surrounds of Nikko, the old Takino Kodo road, and its ancient religious temples and shrines is the perfect place for anyone interested in the calm and quietude of the spiritual history of old Japan.