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Nikkō Tōshō-gū

Coordinates: 36°45′29″N 139°35′56″E / 36.758064°N 139.598958°E / 36.758064; 139.598958
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Nikkō Tōshō-gū
DeityTokugawa Ieyasu
Location2301 Sannai, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1431
Nikkō Tōshō-gū is located in Japan
Nikkō Tōshō-gū
Shown within Japan
Geographic coordinates36°45′29″N 139°35′56″E / 36.758064°N 139.598958°E / 36.758064; 139.598958
Date established1617
Glossary of Shinto

Nikkō Tōshō-gū (日光東照宮) is a Tōshō-gū Shinto shrine located in Nikkō, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan.

Together with Futarasan Shrine and Rinnō-ji, it forms the Shrines and Temples of Nikkō UNESCO World Heritage Site, with 42 structures of the shrine included in the nomination. Five of them are designated as National Treasures of Japan, and three more as Important Cultural Properties.


Five-story pagoda at Nikkō Tōshō-gū

Tōshō-gū is dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate. It was initially built in 1617, during the Edo period, while Ieyasu's son Hidetada was shōgun. It was enlarged during the time of the third shōgun, Iemitsu. Ieyasu is enshrined there, where his remains are also entombed. This shrine was built by Tokugawa retainer Tōdō Takatora.

During the Edo period, the Tokugawa shogunate carried out stately processions from Edo to the Nikkō Tōshō-gū along the Nikkō Kaidō. The shrine's annual spring and autumn festivals reenact these occasions, and are known as "processions of a thousand warriors". Cedar trees line the roadway, termed the Cedar Avenue of Nikkō.

Five structures at Nikkō Tōshō-gū are categorized as National Treasures of Japan, and three more as Important Cultural Properties.[1][2] Additionally, two swords in the possession of the shrine are National Treasures, and many other objects are Important Cultural Properties. Famous buildings at the Tōshō-gū include the richly decorated Yōmeimon (陽明門), a gate that is also known as "higurashi-no-mon". The latter name means that one could look at it until sundown, and not tire of seeing it. Carvings in deep relief, painted in rich colors, decorate the surface of the structure. The next gate is the karamon decorated with white ornaments. Located nearby is a woodcarving of a sleepy cat, "Nemuri-neko", attributed to Hidari Jingorō.

The stable of the shrine's sacred horses bears a carving of the three wise monkeys, who hear, speak and see no evil, a traditional symbol in Japanese culture that is derived from a quote in the Analects.

The original five-storey pagoda was donated by a daimyō in 1650, but it was burned down during a fire, and was rebuilt in 1818. Each storey represents an element–earth, water, fire, wind and aether (or void)–in ascending order. Inside the pagoda, a central shinbashira pillar hangs from chains[3] to minimize damage from earthquakes.[4]

Hundreds of stone steps lead through the cryptomeria forest up to the grave of Ieyasu. A torii at the top bears calligraphy attributed to Emperor Go-Mizunoo. A bronze urn contains the remains of Tokugawa Ieyasu.

In 2008, Yuri Kawasaki became the first female Shinto priest ever to serve at Nikkō Tōshō-gū.[5]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Tōshō-gū". Nikkō Tōshō-gū Official Website (in japanese). Retrieved 2017-12-28.
  2. ^ "Shrines and Temples of Nikko". UNESCO. Retrieved 2017-12-28.
  3. ^ Parent, Mary Neighbour (2003), "shinbashira", Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System, retrieved 2009-03-28
  4. ^ Tanimura, Akihiko; Ishida, Shuzo (1997), "Energy dispersion and dissipation mechanism of a Shinbashira-Frame system", Journal of Structural Engineering B, 43: 143–150, ISSN 0910-8033, archived from the original on 2012-02-29
  5. ^ 1st female Shinto priest named at Nikko Toshogu at Discover Seattle.net

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