Nikko Toshogu shrine [日光東照宮]
Main approach to Nikko Toshogu
Entrance of Nikko Toshogu
Nikko Toshogu is a Shinto shrine located about 2 km northwest of Tobu and JR Nikko station.
The vowels "o" and "u" in the word "Nikko Toshogu" are pronounced long, and it is read as "Nikkô Tôshôgû" in Japanese.
Nikko Toshogu was designated as World Heritage Site as a part of the "Shrines and Temples of Nikko" in 1999.
Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616, the founder of Edo government and the 1st Shogun) has been enshrined in this shrine as a "god".
He died at current Shizuoka city.
In accordance with his will, his remain had been buried in Mount Kuno (Kunozan) in Shizuoka for a year.
After that, it was moved to Nikko next year.
At that time, Kunozan Toshogu shrine was built on Mount Kuno.
Five-Story Pagoda in Nikko Toshogu
Pagoda in Okumiya of Nikko Toshogu
When the remain was buried in Nikko, only a small shrine was built.
It is the current Okumiya (奥宮) shrine.
In 1634, Tokugawa Iemitsu, the 3rd Shogun and a grandson of Ieyasu, began to build the great shrine on the south of Okumiya.
Then, the shrine completed in 1636.
It is Nikko Toshogu shrine.
Yomeimon of Nikko Toshogu
Photo by Railstation.net
Karamon gate before main shrine
In the precincts, there are many buildings.
The most famous building is Yomeimon gate (陽明門) which is the entrance to main shrine.
The height is 11 meters and it is decorated by a lot of beautiful carvings.
It was built in 1636.
Until today, the great repair of the gate had been conducted a few times.
After passing through Yomeimon, we can reach Karamon gate (唐門).
It is the last gate to the main shrine, and the general public can't enter the gate.
It has also much carvings and is beautiful.
Above buildings are designated as National Treasures.
Shin-yosha (Storehouse of Mikoshi)
Between entrance gate and the main shrine, there are some buildings.
Most of them are beautiful and are designated as important cultural properties.
Three wise monkeys
Not only Yomeimon and Karamon but also many other buildings have many carvings.
Especially, we can find the carvings of various animals.
It is said that they had been made as the symbols of peace.
Sleeping cat (眠り猫, Nemuri-neko in Japanese) is the most famous carving.
It was carved on the eastern corridor of the main shrine by Hidari Jingoro (1594-1651, a legendary Japanese sculptor).
It means the peaceful world that even a cat can sleep with an easy mind.
Three wise monkeys (三猿) is also famous.
It was also carved by Hidari Jingoro.
It means "Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil".
In Japanese, we say "Mizaru, kikazaru, iwazaru".
"Zaru" in the words is similar to "saru", so "saru" in Japanese means "monkey".
Therefore, one monkey covers his ears, one monkey covers his eyes, and one monkey covers his mouth, with their hands.
How to get here
By route bus for Chuzenji or Yumoto-onsen, get off at Nishi-sando stop.
About 6 minutes from Nikko station.
Then, about 600 meters walk from Nishi-sando stop.