Friday, December 15

Travel Destinations: Nikko, Japan

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Travel Destinations: Nikko, Japan

Nikko is hidden in the beautiful hilly woodlands north of Tokyo, home to a population of around 17,000 people. It is a wonderful place with numerous brightly coloured temples and shrines. If visiting Japan, you should definitely make the time to come to one of the most popular tourist destinations.

Nikko has a long rich history as a sacred place when, in the 8thcentury, the Buddhist priest Shodo founded a hermitage here. Buddhist monks would travel to Nikko to be trained before fading away into anonymity. It then gained prestige as the site for the mausoleum for the warlord Tokugawa Ieyasu who took control of the country and established the shogunate.

Nikko has so many places for you to visit with Tosho-gu as the focus of the shrine region. Although you can gain admission for each attraction separately, it may be easier to purchase a ‘combination’ ticket which will cover your admission to most sites for two days.

Shin-kyo:

This red painted bridge stretches over the Daiya River is a popular starting place for a trip to Nikko, even if it is just a reconstruction of the 17thcentury original. This is the famous spot where the Buddhist priest Shido Shonin was carried across the river on the backs of two gigantic snakes.

Rinno-ji:

This temple was originally constructed 1200 years ago by the Tendai-sect. The Three Buddha Hall has some beautiful gold lacquered images inside. The most magnificent is of the goddess of mercy, Kwannon (the Japanese equivalent of the Chinese Guan Yin), but the Senju, Amida Nyorai and Bato images are simply divine too. Homotsu-den has a good collection of beautiful treasures relating to the temple and can be found in the temple’s grounds.

Tosho-gu:

The entrance to Tosho-gu is marked by a beautiful gigantic stone torii; on the left you will come across a magnificent five storey pagoda – the original dates to 1650 but it has been reconstructed in 1818.

The gate, Omote-mon, is the true entrance to the shrine and is flanked on either side by the Deva Kings. The Sanjinko (Three Sacred Storehouses) are straight pass the gate where you can admire some spectacular carvings of elephants on the roofs.

This site has many attractions for you to see – a sacred library, a drum tower, the Honji-do, the Yomei-mon, the Nemuri-Neko, the leyasu’s tomb, the Honden and Haiden Halls.

Futarasan-jinja:

This shrine was commissioned by Shodo Shonin, dedicated to the mountain, Nantai, his consort, Nyotai, and their child, Taro.

Nikko is a beautiful place, full of rich and cultural attractions and history. A trip here will certainly leave you with memories that will last for the rest of your life.

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