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Why Toshogu Shrine is special ?
Japan is well-known by the combination of the traditional life styles and modern economy. Not be affected by the super developing economic background, Japan still remains its historic building and conventional livings; and Nikko Toshogu Shrine is not an exception. Located in the middle of Nikko forest, this shrine Toshogu contains both Shinto and Buddhist elements. It was common for places of worhsip to contain elements of both religions until the Meiji Period when Shinto was deliberately separated from Buddhism.Toshogu Shrine is surrounded with a beatiful nature. Try to get there at the early morning to have peaceful time. Take your time! There is a lot to see!
What to explore at Toshogu Shrine?
The shrine itself is absolutely beautiful; you access it via a narrow pathway, and up a few stairs, having walked past over 200 stone and bronze lanterns. The ground around the shrine is lined with pebbles, which might be a little difficult for some people to walk on, but a man with mobility problems held on to the rail and walked slowly round, which is the way you should view this shrine anyway; the decoration is exquisite! So much of it is covered in gold foil and lacquered pictures! Someone has kindly posted written notes on the railings saying which birds or flowers are represented in the different decorative panels, which I really appreciated
- Awe-inspiring and beautiful shrine
- Minimalist architecture
- Sacred destinations
- A riot of color, gold, and carvings
- The main attraction of Nikko
Toshogu Shrine, Nikko
Tips for you
Even with the ongoing restoration works it's still worth the visit ! A magical place and all those colors !
We looked forward to our trip to Nikko, but were disappointed to see that a lot of the sights were undergoing renovations. We don't mind this as sights do need renovating, but think it would be fair to advertise this clearly at the ticket offices for the entrance fees, as some of the entrance fees are quite steep or even offer discounts for the entrance while renovations are ongoing. In some cases, the attractions are being renovated for 6 years!As the better value World Heritage pass has been discontinued, we purchased the 2 day Nikko Pass (¥2760 per person) from Asakusa station and the ladies in the Tobu Railways office had excellent English to explain the trains and buses. Be warned though, you are told that you can use the 2A bus with the pass (to go to Shin-kyo bridge first) but the driver wouldn't let us or other people with the 2 day pass board the bus; we had to get the 2C bus instead and do a different route we originally planned. We never got to the bottom of what the problem was!There were several disappointments at Nikko. The first was that Rinnoji was completely surrounded by a corrugated metal building and under renovation so it couldn't be seen. We enjoy looking at the outside architecture and opted not to pay the entrance fee.Part of the Toshogu shrine (Yomei-mon Gate) was also undergoing renovation and it couldn’t be seen at all. We only found this out by studying a very small sign near the entrance of Toshogu and as the Yomei-mon Gate was one of the main reasons for visiting Toshogu, we decided not to pay the ¥1300 entrance fee.We visited the Taiyuinbyo shrine, paid the entrance fee for this and enjoyed it immensely (reviewed separately).It was an ok day out, but we would advise that visitors research carefully which parts are closed for renovations to make sure the visit is worthwhile.
Not to miss when you are in or around Tokio. Best is to buy a world heritage ticket including the train from Tobu Asakusa station. Gives a wonderfull view of Japanese temple buildings and the respect the Japanese people have for their cultural heritage. Take yout time, there is a lot to see.
“Magnificent..it's like going back into time !” Even with the ongoing restoration works it's still worth the visit ! A magical place and all those colors !