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2017年11月22日

Nikko UNESCO World Heritage

by Eva 444

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Thanks to the world heritage shrines and temples and
beautiful nature, Nikko attracts many travellers from different
countries and it is one of my favourite destination.
The World Heritage consists of the Toshogu shrine,
Rinno-ji temple and Futarasan-jinja shrine. The Toshogu shrine
is the most famous World Heritage in Nikko.

Recommended Route from Tokyo to Nikko:

Shinjuku Station→Nikko Station


Duration: approximately 2 hours

Price:       4 000 yen per ticket one way


Recommended Route around Nikko Area:
JR Nikko Station→Shinkyo Bridge
→Rinnoji Temple
Toshogu Shrine→Futarasan Shrine→Iemitsu-byo

Taiyu-in Temple→Chuzenji Lake→Kegon Waterfalls

Nikko Station


Once you get to Nikko station, you can find buses taking

travellers to world heritage sights area. However, if you have

extra 30 to 40 minutes time, I recommend you to walk.

By choosing this option, you will have a chance to pass

traditional shops and amazing Shinkyo Bridge.


1. Shinkyo Bridge (神橋ーしんきょ Sacred Bridge)

Shinkyo bridge belongs to Futarasan shrine and is located 
at the entrance to Nikko`s shrines and temples. The bridge
is ranked as one of Japan`s three finest bridges together
with Iwakuni`s Kintaiko and Saruhashi in Yamanashi Prefecture.
Shinkyo bridge was inscribed as the World Heritage in
December 1999. It is 28 meters long, 7,4 metres wide and located
10,6 meters above the river. Current look of the bridge was
constructed in 1636. Until 1973 was used only by 
generals and messengers. From 1997 until 2005 went through
vast reconstruction. 

Shinkyo Bridge
Official Website: http://www.shinkyo.net/english/

2. Rinnoji Temple (輪王寺ーりんのうじ)
Rinnoji temple is the most important temple in Nikko
shrine and temple complex. It was founded by buddhist monk
Shodo Shonin who introduced buddhism to Nikko in 782.
Rinnoji temple is approximately 30 to 40 minutes walk
from Tobu or JR Nikko stations and just a few steps from Toshogu
shrine. Be aware hat the Sanbutsudo Hall is currently undergoing 
major renovation works, scheduled until March 2019. During
this period, the temple is covered but it is still opened to tourists.
In the main building of the temple called Sanbutsudo,
you can find large, gold lacquered wooden statues of Amida,
Senju-Kannon (deity with a thousand arms) and Bato-Kannon
(deity with a horse head). The three deities are regarded as Buddhist
manifestation of Nikko`s three mountain deities.
On the opposite side of Sanbutsudo Hall is Shoyoen garden.
This small Japanese style garden is popular mainly for autumn
leaves viewing. Autumn colors peak period is usually around
the first half of November.

Rinnoji Temple
Opening Hours:8:00〜17:00
                       8:00〜16:00 (from November to March)
                       Admission ends 30 minutes before closing
Opening Days:  No Holidays
Entrance Fee:   Adults 400 Yen (only to Sanbutsudo Hall)

3. Toshogu Shrine 
 (東照宮ーとうしょうぐ)
Toshogu complex was established in 1617 to enshrine Tokugawa
Ieasu, the first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate who succeeded
in pacyfying the country after a turbulent period of conflict.
 
Toshogu complex was enlarge into complex seen today by Ieyasu`s 
grandson Iemitsu during the first half of the 1600s. Shrine complex 
consists of more than a dozen buildings decorated by countless 
wood carvings and large amounts of gold leaves set in the beautiful 
forest.
You may notice that Toshogu complex contains both Shinto 
and Buddhist elements and until Meiji period was used as a place of 
worship for both religions. Toshogu shrine is being renovated 
from 2007 and the renovation is supposed to be completed in 2020s. 
Reconstruction of centrally placed Yomeimon Gate was completed in 
March 2017, therefore impact on a visit is relatively small. It is
one of the most ornated structures in Japan.

Famous part of Toshougu complex is five story pagoda in front of 
the main entrance gate. The interior of the pagoda is opened only 
periodically to visitors at a separate fee.
Once you pass Yomeimon gate you will see storehouses. The most
famous are ,,see no evil, speak no evil and hear no evil" monkeys and
the Sozonozo Elephants ("imagined elephants" that were carved by
an artist who had never seen elephants. You can see large painting of
,,Crying Dragon" in Honjido Hall.
The main halls are dedicated to spirits of Ieyasu, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and
Minamoto Yoritomo. Visitors are allowed to enter them however they are
not allowed to take photos. To the right of the main shrine building is
the Sakashitamon Gate with famous carving of the Nemurineko
(,,Sleeping cat").

If you would like to see an impressive collection of the former shogun`s 
personal items, visit Nikko Toshogu Museum which was opened in 2015.

Opening Hours: 8:00〜17:00
                        8:00〜16:00 (from November until March)
                        Admission ends 30 minutes before closing
Opening Day:  No Holidays
Entrance Fee:  Adults 1 300 Yen (only for shrine)
                      Adults 1 000 Yen (only for museum)
                      Adults 2 100 Yen (for shrine and museum)
Official Website: http://www.toshogu.jp/english/


4. Futarasan Shrine (二荒山神社−ふたらさんじんしゃ)

Futarasan Shrine is located close to Toshogu complex approximately
200 meters west. It was founded in 8th century by the same buddhist
monk Shodo Shonin who founded Rinnoji temple.
Similarly as Rinnoji temple, Futarasan shrine is dedicated to the dieties
of Nikko`s three most sacred mountains.

Futarasan Shrine
Opening Hours: 8:00〜17:00
                        8:00〜16:00 (from November until March)
                        Admission ends 30 minutes before closing
Opening Days:   No Holidays
Entrance Fee:    200 Yen

5. Iemitsu-byo Taiyu-in Temple (大猷院廟ーたいゆういんびょう)
This temple which was built by Iemitsu, grandson of Ieyasu,
is not so famous overseas and often overlooked but it is an
amazing shinto buddhist hybrid temple. It was built a little bit more
modestly than Toshogu shrine (in order to show respect of Iemitsu
to his grandfather). Shrines and temples in Japan typically faces to
the south or occasionally to the east, however Taiyuin-byo temple
ignores this tradition and faces Toshogu shrine again for the same
purpose to show the respect to his grandfather Ieyasu.
When you enter the entrance gate you will see the stairs, pass all
the gates until you will reach ornately decorated Yoshamon gate
which looks similar to Toshogu Yomeimon gate. Once you pass
the Yashomon gate, you will get to inner main shrine with absolute
stunning woodwork and architecture.

Iemitsu-byo Taiyu-in Temple
Opening Hours: 8:00〜17:00
                        8:00〜16:00 (from November until March)
                        Admission ends 30 minutes before closing
Opening Days:   No Holidays
Entrance Fee:    550 Yen

6. Chuzenji-ko Lake (中禅寺湖−ちゅうぜんじこ)
Once you finish your viewing of temple and shrine complex
you can relocate yourself by bus back to JR Nikko or Tobu Nikko station
or to head to next destination.
I recommend to visit lake Chuzenji which is famous for autumn leaves
viewing and close by Kegon Falls.Lake Chuzenji is located about 11 km
east from central Nikko. It takes approximately 40 - 50 minutes from
Tobu Nikko station and you need to get off at Chuzenji Onsen station and
walk approximately 5 minutes.
From the 19th to the early 20th centuries, European embassies villas
were built around this lake as a summer resort.You can enjoy seasonal
charms of the lake. The ,,Koyo meguri tour" which is a boat tour is
available and you can enjoy autumn leaves reflecting on the lake. 

7. Kegon Waterfalls (華厳の滝- けごんのたき)
Kegon waterfalls is ranked as one of Japan`s three most beautiful falls,
along with Nachi Waterfall in Wakayama prefecture and Fukuroda Waterfall
in Ibaraki Prefecture. You can watch Kegon Waterfall from observation
platform that is easily accessible on foot or for more impressive views
from paid platform at the base of the waterfalls.
Kegon Waterfall is popular destination for autumn leaves viewing.
The best season is usually from mid October to November.

This is end of my walk but if you have one extra day, there
are plenty of other interesting spots in Nikko area.


Summary of the Route around Nikko Area:
JR Nikko Station→Shinkyo Bridge
→Rinnoji Temple
Toshogu Shrine→Futarasan Shrine→Iemitsu-byo

Taiyu-in Temple→Chuzenji Lake→Kegon Waterfalls

Nikko Station


Map:



Author of the Article: Eva Navratilova

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