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.
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.
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.