Nikko Travel – Rinnoji and the Toshogu Shrine
Today a new adventure in our TOKYO JAPAN TRAVEL tour. This was a one day tour from Tokyo. We travel from Tokyo to Nikko to the Nikko National Park, first to visit the Toshogu Shrine, (a Japanese Cultural experience not to be missed), then Kegon Waterfall and Lake Chuzenji. From Tokyo we travel on the Irohazaka zigzag driveway, a very winding road,up the mountains to Nikko National Park.
If you’re not into a Japanese breakfast…
We were up early, found a nice little café (Café Jurin) across from Keio Plaza Hotel where we chose to have breakfast, omelets & toast with coffee; very friendly staff. At 8am, picked up by shuttle bus outside Keio Plaza Hotel and taken to the Hamamatsuch Bus Terminal (a very, very busy terminal) to travel to the sacred Shrines and countryside of Nikko National Park.This was not a small group tour, they don’t appear to do this in Japan. All the buses going out held at least 45 people, made up of two groups of about 22-23 people. This number is much more difficult for the tour leader to keep a check on. I feel sure a small group tour is easier all round.
Look for the red lacquered bridge (Shin-kyo or sacred bridge)
On route between NIKKO and its main shrines, is the Shin-kyo (sacred bridge). We only had glimpses of this red lacquered bridge that arches so gracefully across the Daiya River. Legend has it, that when Shodo Shonin first visited Nikko in the eight century, he was helped across the Daiyagawa river at this spot by two large snakes that formed a bridge for him to cross, they then disappeared. There is a statue of the Buddhist priest, Shodo Shonin in the car park area of the complex.
NIKKO and the RINNOJI BUDDHIST TEMPLE
Nikko is a huge complex set among beautiful cypress pine trees and mountain backdrops.The first temple we visited was Rinnoji temple, a Tendai Buddhist Temple founded in 766 by the Buddhist priest Shodo Shonin. It is a large, red-painted Temple, which houses three magnificent giant gilded statues; the Thousand-Handed Kannon; the Amida Buddha and the fierce horse-headed Kannon. Nearby is the Sorin Pillar (c1643), a bronze memorial pillar. Contained in it are 1,000 volumes of the Holy Sutra.
Don’t miss the Toshogu Shrine
It was another cold fine cold day as we continued our walk to the Toshogu Shrine. The Toshogu shrine was built-in 1634 in honor of the first Tokugawa shogun, Tokugaswa Leyasu (1542-1616) by his grandson Iemitsu. Japanese culture and history is quite fascinating. If you are planning a trip to Japan read up on the Shogun history, as it will give you wonderful insight into the history and Japanese culture.
We passed through the giant Ishidorii (Stone Gate )which is 9m high, constructed from granite in 1617. On the left of this Torii stands a beautiful Five-Storied Pagoda.
The beautiful Five Storied Pagoda
Funds for construction of the Five Storied Pagoda provided by the then Governor of Obama (Former Fukui prefecture) Tadakatsu Dakai in 1650. The Pagoda burnt down in 1815. In 1818 the descendants of Tadakatsu Sakai provided funds for the rebuilding of the pagoda.
The Five Storied Pagoda is 36m high. Each level of this Pagoda represents an element – Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Heaven in ascending order. Sculptures of animals on the first layer indicate twelve zodiac signs and directions.
The Three Sacred Warehouses
The next gate which is the entrance into the Toshogu Shrine has statues of two very fierce Diva Kings on one side and a pair of Lions on the other side. This bought us to the three Sacred Warehouses, in a rough stone covered courtyard lined with ancient stone lanterns. The Three Sacred Warehouses are significant buildings with beautiful carvings and gilded decoration. One of these buildings the ‘Sanjinko’ warehouse stores 1,200 costumes for the Samurai-style 1,000 person procession, held during the Festivals of Spring and Autumn. A second building is the Sacred Stable where the sacred white horses are kept. It has gilded carvings of the Three Monkeys (“here no evil, see no evil and speak no evil”) on the lintels of the building with their story.
There is an ancient Library of Buddhist scripture which has an octagonal revolving shelf containing a complete collection of the Sutra Library. Next to this is the Sacred Fountain with a Chinese style gabled roof supported by twelve granite pillars. It has a huge granite basin (c1618) for visitors to purify their hands and mouths before worship.
Adjacent to the Sacred Fountain is the first bronze Torii built-in Japan which is 6m high. The third successive shogun Iemitsu spent 200,000,000 yen in today’s currency to build this gate .
The Bronze Torii (gate) leads through to the spectacular Yomeimon Gate or ‘Sunset Gate’ as it is sometime known. The Yomeimon Gate is so magnificent it stopped us in our tracks. Read my next post……Toshogu shrine nikko.
Photo’s: Travel to Nikko