Toshugu Shrine

Tokyo, Japan’s bustling capital, is well known for it’s crowds, it’s neon lights, it’s modern gadgets, and it’s quirkiness. There’s (overpriced in my opinion) maid cafes, manga cafes, and anime shops and video stores galore in Akihabara. While Tokyo is also well known for it’s more traditional areas, such as Sensoji temple and the Meiji Shrine, it generally feels quite modern, and really does not have the historical feel of traditional cities such as Kyoto and Nara. I had visited Japan twice before this recent trip to Tokyo. The first trip was a tour of the Kyushu island area, and the second was a trip with friends to Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara. Kyoto and Nara are amazing places and one could probably spend weeks exploring them and never get bored (I only had a few days, unfortunately).

Tokyo, on the other hand, was a bit underwhelming compared to Kyoto and Nara. I was looking forward to finally visiting Japan’s famous metropolis, but to me it was basically another big city, with anime and manga thrown in. It’s a fun place to explore for a couple of days, but after two days there I was ready to escape the city and explore more of Japan’s world heritage.

Entrance to Toshugu shrine.

Nikko, a small town located about two and a half hours north of Tokyo, is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle. Nikko is home to two shrines and one temple listed as Unesco world heritage sites. Unfortunately, the large and beautiful main gate of Toshugu shrine is being renovated, as is the main hall of Rinnoji temple. However, there are several buildings that can still be enjoyed at Toshugu, so it is still very much worth the visit. The entrance fee is a bit steep, at 1300 yen, but I thought it was worth the price. It’s considered to be the mostly lavishly decorated shrine in Japan, as it boasts amazing detailed carvings in the wood and several buildings are covered in gold leaf. It was built as a resting place for a ruler during the Edo period, but originally the mausoleum lacked the grandeur it has now. It was in the 1600s when the ruler’s grandson expanded the shrine that it became as ornate as it is today.

What Rinnoji temple currently looks like.
What Rinnoji temple currently looks like.
DSC02256
Shrine pagoda, which is of the same altitude as the Tokyo Skytree.
DSC02272
The famed hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil monkeys.
DSC02287
What the main gate of Toshugu looks like under renovation.

DSC02260 DSC02261 DSC02268 DSC02269 DSC02273 DSC02280 DSC02294 DSC02296 DSC02298 DSC02299 DSC02303 DSC02311 DSC02313

The location of the shrine, a beautiful cryptomeria tree forest, is just as impressive as the shrine itself. In addition to Toshugu, Nikko is home to beautiful mountains, forests, and rivers. I wish I had more time to explore Nikko’s national park, but unfortunately I was only able to manage a day trip with the time I had. I visited Tokyo and Nikko during a 5 day break from labor day until Children’s day, so I only had three full days in Tokyo. Even for a short excursion, Nikko is very much worthy of the two hour train ride. It’s very easy and relatively inexpensive to get there. The train from Tokyo’s Asakusa station on the Tobu railway costs 1700 yen.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s