Remembering North Japan: Nikko Toshogu Shrine

Inside the chilly winter grounds at Nikko Toshogu shrine

An easy day trip from Tokyo, Nikko Toshogu is where the remains of Tokugawa Iesa, the shogun who unified Japan, lie. His presence is said to protect Tokyo, his constructed capital, from harm, though some might argue his effectiveness at this. Certainly Fuji, an historically active volcano, has been dormant for centuries and the population of 20 million+ was spared the worst of 3/11’s destruction, however Tokyo has been razed to the ground multiple times, during the 1923 earthquake, WW2, and 1954’s Godzilla attack.

Deep within the shrine, visitors can view the spot where Tokugawa's remains are interred.

Deep within the shrine, visitors can view the spot where Tokugawa’s remains are interred.

The importance of the World Heritage site means Nikko is very popular, and not just with domestic and international tourists, but school-groups from across Japan. Expect to wait in lines on entering the heart of the shrine to pay respects to Iesu himself. 

Even on cold weekends the paths of Nikko are busy thoroughfares.

Even on cold weekends the paths of Nikko are busy thoroughfares.

Following the crowd up to the centre of Nikko Toshogu shrine

Following the crowd up to the centre of Nikko Toshogu shrine

Children, as always innocent to the importance of mere buildings, preferred to make a snowman. Someone else kindly left a note to passersby not to squish him.

Children, as always innocent to the importance of mere buildings, made a snowman instead. The small note asks passersby not to squish him.

There are other Toshogu shrines throughout Japan, many decorated with the same bright painted colours and expressive carvings. Of course, being Tokugawa Iesu’s shrine means standards need to be high, and everything should be covered with gold leaf! Clicking on the gallery below will give a closer view of this Edo style of art and architecture.

 

While a beautiful shrine, and an important historical site, Nikko’s proximity to Fukushima resulted in a high level of fallout here to the understandable concern of parents whose children come on school trips, and which might impact the decision of visiting tourists.

For those who do go, Nikko is accessible from Tokyo via the Tobu railway (passes available and this site has directions). 

Leaving Nikko through an impressively tall, stone torii.

Leaving Nikko through an impressively tall, stone torii.

Have you been to Nikko Toshogu? Is there a part of the shrine you would like to see for yourself? Just want to say hi? Leave a note in the comments!

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6 thoughts on “Remembering North Japan: Nikko Toshogu Shrine

  1. Great site. A lot of helpful information here. I’m sending it to some buddies ans also sharing in delicious. And of course, thanks in your effort!

    Like

  2. I took the time to visit Nikko last month. Was really glad I did, although I had to hold off on visiting the shrines until the following day due to the pouring rain. Really like your photos, and the fact you caught the shrine in snowy times gives it a whole new feel 🙂

    Like

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