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Nikko's Famous Toshogu Shrine

A luxurious World Heritage shrine

Nikko Toshogu Shrine, located in Tochigi Prefecture, was registered as a World Cultural Heritage site in 1999. Along with Nikko Futarasan Shrine and Taiyu-in, there are 106 shrines and temples registered in the area.

Nikko Toshogu Shrine was built in 1617 and is dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo period shogunate. Iemitsu, the third shogun, renovated much of it in 1634, changing it to the lavish decorative style that it is now today. These days, with the most recent renovations and refurbishments having been completed, many vividly colorful parts of the shrine complex, like the Yomei-mon Gate, are now ready for public viewing.

Within the grounds lie eight National Treasures as well as thirty-four Cultural Properties. All of this creates a historical atmosphere that is an experience to behold. Toshogu Shrine's architectural decorations can be found right up to its details, with various kinds of animals a feature. If you take a close look, you can also see the presence of the tiger motif, a result of Ieyasu having been born under the Chinese zodiac sign of the tiger.

Other animals include the famous sculpture of the three wise monkeys, known as Sanzaru in Japanese. One monkey hides his eyes, another his mouth while the third covers his ears. Another sculpture is that of the sleeping cat, created by Hidari Jingoro, a famous - though possibly mythical - master craftsman of the Edo period.

The steps leading up to the Okumiya, the location of Ieyasu's tomb, is substantial and takes several minutes to reach but is definitely worth the effort.

Surrounded by natural beauty as well as popular places of interest such as Shinkyo Bridge and Takino Shrine, Nikko Toshogu Shrine is a representative power spot of Nikko and a must-see for anyone who visits the area.

More info

Find out more about Nikko Toshogu Shrine.

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