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nestled in the mountains north of tokyo, the shrines and temples of nikko lie at the base of sacred mt. nantai (男体山), mt. nyoho (女峰山), and mt. taro (太郎山).  in this site there are 9 buildings considered national treasures and 94 important cultural properties.

perhaps its most important aspect is that toshogu shrine (東照宮), which was built to enshrine the remains of tokugawa ieyasu (徳川家康).  ieyasu was one of two unifiers of japan, and is a pivotal character in its history.  his shogunate was in power from 1600 until 1868, the beginning of the meiji restorationthe city of nikko can be reached by the JR line or toubu line from tokyo.  the JR line will get you there about 30 minutes faster, but will cost you quite a bit more.  if you board the toubu line, make sure you take the limited express train, or tokkyu (特急).  it should get you there in just over 2 hours, depending where in tokyo you’re coming from.

aside from the sites on this page, there are a lot of hiking trails in the area.  there are a couple of wonderful waterfalls to visit as well.  you will have to stay the night if you want to see the historical sites and a little bit of nature.  you can stay at one of the many hotels in the area.  there are also numerous camping sites at which you can spend the night.

the last station for both lines lie next to each other.  you can take the bus to the principal entrance to the nikko sites, but you could end up having to wait a while.  another alternative is to walk west (slight uphill) for 1.2 kilometers (0.75 miles).

this is the main entrance to the sites if you are coming from the train stations.


once you are inside the park, you will need to purchase a ticket for 1,000 yen to gain entrance into a few areas.  this ticket will grant you access to several locations, so don’t lose it.  ;)

the park is filled with beautiful cedar trees.


there is great moss growing everywhere too!


this is the main entrance way and torii (鳥居), or archway, for toshogu.  another nice shot of the towering cedars.


the 5 level pagoda just past the torii.


a detail shot of some of the wood work on the pagoda.


the outside courtyard and building at toshogu.


in the above area there was a sacred white stallion inside a stable named koha, meaning “gift” in maori language.  he is a gift from new zealand, who represents the goodwill between the two countries.  you can only see him from 10am to 2pm.

closer to the inside courtyard, you can see several building, a second torii, and the main gate to the inner quarters in the middle of the picture.  nikko is a very popular location in japan, with reason, as such i recommend that you get there early to try to avoid the heaviest crowds.  try to avoid visiting during japanese holidays.


yomeimon gate (陽明門) the gate to the inner buildings at toshogu shrine.  this is the same gate as that from the first photo in this page.


to each side of the gate are two walls with amazing wood engravings.  they are named tozai sukibei.


taken within toshogu shrine.


this is the main path leading from toshogu shrine to futa-arasan-jinja (二荒山神社).


looking out from futa-arasan-jinja.


further west from futa-arasan-jinja is rinnoji taiyuin (輪王寺大猷院).


before entering all shrines you should wash your hands.  this is the most impressive i have seen.


more awesome green moss.  apparently there are so many stone lanterns in nikko that they cannot be counted.


there are several status to different gods in rinnoji taiyuin.  this is the statue of the god of wind, fujin (風神).  he is carrying a bag of wind.


the principal shrine in rinnoji.


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