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Nikko - World heritage with Temples & Shrines (November 2009)

It takes about 2 hours either by JR (from Tokyo Station) or Tobu Line (from Asakusa Station).
Both have direct trains to Nikko Station. You can take bus from the station,
but it takes only 30 minutes even if you walk.
Nikko is the closest city from Tokyo where you can visit one of world heritages.

You can enjoy the natural beauty in Nikko district,
but '2 shrines and 1 temple in Nikko' is the most importatnt place registered as world heritage.
These shrines and temple stand close each other, so you can visit all of them on foot.

Shinkyo, the Sacred Bridge appears first, crossing over Daiya River.

Sacred Bridge

The first temple in Nikko was established in 766, then many shrines and temples have been built.
Each year many Buddhists from China, India and other Buddhism country come to the temple
and say their prayers. Since the cost of living is high in Japan,
many travelers chose to stay in the cheap Tokyo hotels for a better rate.

Among them, most famous and popular shrine is Toshogu which was built
as the mausoleum of the first Shogun, Ieyasu Tokugawa.
Yomeimon Gate is the most beautiful construction in this shrine.
The another name of the gate is Sunset Gate, because you never get tired of looking it
even if you look all day long.

Yomeimon at Toshogu Shrine

It has more than 500 finely carved sculptures. Some are influenced by China.
The walls spreading both sides of the gate also have beautiful sculptures.

Sculpture of YomeimonSculpture of Yomeimon

Threre are other important sculptures and paintings on various constructions of the shrine.
Three monkeys 'San zaru'on the wall of sacred stable tells us the way of living.
'Zaru' means monkey but also, 'not'. The sculpture tells us,
'Not to see the bad thing, not to say the bad thing and not to hear the bad thing.'

Sanzaru, three monkeys

You can see the grave of Ieyasu Tokugawa at Okumiya of Toshogu.

Ieyasu's grave

To see it, you have to climb 200 steps, but it is pleasant to walk in the cedar woods.

Steps to Ieyasu's grave

There are many other important constructions worth to see in the precinct of Toshogu.

Precinct of ToshoguSacred stable
Sake bottles dedicated to the shrineFive-storied Pagoda

From Toshogu to Futarasan Shrine is only 10 minutes walk along the cedar lined street.
It is nice to walk in this quiet and solemn atmosphere.

Cedar lined street

Futarasan Shrine is rather small and quiet place, but it has the oldest existing construction here.
The main hall was constructed in 1619, the begining of Tokugawa shogunate.

Futarasan Shrine

You find Taiyuin (Part of Rinnoji Temple) behind the Futarasan Shrine which is the mausoleum of third shogun, Iemitsu.

Gate of TaiyuinMain hall of Taiyuin

The main hall of Rinnoji Temple is 10 minutes away from Taiyuin.
It is called Sanbutsudo, meaning Three Buddha Hall.


There are 3 golden Buddha in the hall.
Each Buddha represents the three mountains of Nikko area which have been long worshiped as Gods.
This is a sample of syncretization of Buddhism and Shintoism.
It looks small in the photo, but they are about 8 meters high and look very impressive.
(You cannot take photo. This is from the guidebook.)

Three golden Buddhas

Autumn (from mid October to early November) is the good season to visit these area
because you can appreciate beautiful red autumn leaves.

Red leaves in Nikko 1Garden of Rinnoji
TaiyuinEntrance of Taiyuin

For lunch, I recommend you to have 'yuba (soy milk skin)' which is the specialty of the region.
It is very health food.

Yuba lunch

If you have time, you can visit to famous Kegon Falls and Chuzenjiko Lake by local bus.
But I recommend to join the one day bus tour from Tokyo to visit many places at one time.
The local bus runs almost only once every hour.

The hight of Kegon Waterfall is 96 m. One of the 3 famous Japanese falls.

Kegon Waterfall

Water of Kegon fall comes from Chuzenji Lake.
It takes only 10 minutes by walk from the fall to the lake.
The view of the lake with Mount Nantai (2484m) is magnificent.

Lake Chuzenji and Mount Nantai

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