Toshogu: Nikko’s monumental temple

10 Nov 2017 in Discover Japan

One of Japan’s most exuberant temples lies not in Kyoto or Tokyo – but in the scenic Nikko National Park. Join us on a journey to Toshogu.


From humble beginnings, the Toshogu Shrine in Tochigi Prefecture has become one of Japan’s most impressive and lavish temple complexes. Vibrantly coloured buildings, ornate wood carvings and elaborate gold leaf finishes make this a temple to put on your to-do list!

Tōshō-gū Shrine temple

In 1617, a simple shrine was built here as the final resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo period.

Temple des siges de Nikko

Some 20 years later, his grandson decided to aggrandize the premises on a monumental scale, transforming Toshohu into today’s 55-building complex with ostentatious architecture that was a first in Japanese shrines.

Toshohu Nikko temple

Today, Toshogu is a UNESCO World Heritage site and, thanks to a long-term renovation program, has been significantly restored to its former glory.

If you’re in the area, the temple is a must-see. And, if you weren’t planning on visiting Nikko, maybe Hoshino Resorts KAI Nikko‘s lakeside setting and mountain views can tempt you?

Hoshino Resorts KAI Nikko

Some of the highlights?

Yomeimon Gate, renovated in 2017, is dubbed “Gate of the Setting Sun” because you could gaze at it all day! Its 500-plus richly-painted carvings include writhing dragons, playing children and pontificating wise men.

Shinkyusha (Sacred Stable) is famed for its eight-panel frieze depicting the life of a monkey. Panel number two is possibly the world’s most famous depiction of the “See No Evil, Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil” proverb.

Marking the entrance up to Ieyasu’s mausoleum, the Sakashita Gate is a sight in itself, carved with a sleeping cat surrounded by sparrows – a plea for predator and prey to live harmoniously together.


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