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Toshogu Shrine located in Nikko, Japan is one of the most significant temples of Japan. Toshogu is the Catacomb or the resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the shogunate in Edo and first shogun of Japan. Shogun is a military commander and shogunate is the administration or government of Japan that ruled the country between 1185-1868. The Toshogu shrine was constructed in 1617 as a mausoleum for Tokugawa Leyasu by his son Hidetada, the second shogun. The Toshogu shrine, where Tokugawa has been enshrined with his remains entombed, was built to safeguard Northern Edo, now Tokyo, from all the evil spirits. Ieyasu's grandson, the third shogun, Lemitsu was responsible for enlarging the shrine to its current dramatic proportions.
Get dazzled by the opulence and flamboyance of Toshogu, the most extravagant shrines in Japan
The original pagoda was donated in 1650 by one of the Japanese feudal lords but got completely burned down by a fire. The structure got rebuilt in 1818. The five stories of the Pagoda represent the five elements of nature, earth, water, fire, wind, and aether. A central pillar hanging from chains inside the pagoda is provided to protect the structure from earthquakes. The Pagoda is one of the important cultural properties in the shrine complex.
Recognized as one of the essential cultural edifices, the structure is made of three bright colored structures with gold leaf borders. They are known as Kamijinko, Nakajinko, and Shimojink, representing the upper, middle and the lower warehouses. These storehouses store the costumes and harnesses used for the processions that are carried out during the fall and spring festivals at the shrine complex. The upper warehouse is especially striking with two beautiful grey elephants carved on its roof. These are known as the ‘Imaginary elephants.’ According to legends, the artist, Kano Tanyu had never seen elephants in real life.
Omotemon is the first gate that invites you into the shrine. One of the essential cultural erections, Omotemn has two deities engraved on both its sides, thereby giving it an alternate name, the Nio gate.
How to Get Tickets?
Admission tickets to the shrine can be purchased on the site.
How To Get Around?
Explore the magnificent shrine of Toshogu by foot. As the shrine complex has so much history to offer and contains so many enchanting structures within, do plan this visit at leisure.
What Should I Wear?
Wear comfortable clothes and put on a pair of comfy shoes as you will be covering the entire shrine complex on foot.
Best Time to Visit
The shrine is open all year-round. During Spring, you can visit between March to May and in Fall between September to November in Autumn.
Will I Need a Guide?
How To Get There?
You can take a walk for two minutes from Futarasan Shrine to reach the Toshogu shrine. The shrine is at a walking distance of 5 minutes from the local bus station. If traveling by train, On JR line, reach Nikko station and hop on to a local bus for a 10-minute ride to the shrine. Or if you are up to it, take a walk for 40 minutes to reach the church. From Tokyo, you can reach Nikko from Tokyo on the Tobu line between Nikko and Akasuka. The travel time is approximately two hours.
Toshogu is a famous tourist destination. Plan to visit the shrine early in the day or on weekdays. Yuri Kawasaki created headlines and made history in 2008 when she was appointed as the first female priest at the Toshogu shrine.