What is hidden in the forest on the mountainside of Futara-san is the main reason people visit Nikko. In fact it is the reason that Nikko exists as a city today at all...
Founding of Nikko :
Nikko was founded as a Buddhist training centre in the 8th century but lost its importance eventually. In the 17th century the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu the famous military ruler choose Nikko to be his burial place.
Mausoleums, Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines are spread out over the mountain against spectacular backdrop of lush forest. Besides the historical buildings the area is also known for its scenic trails and hot springs in the national park.
Main sites to visit in Nikko:
- • Tosho-gu
- • Iemitsu Mausoleum (Taiyuinbyo)
- • Koukamon Gate
Tosho-gu is the mausoleum of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. After the death of the shogun (he united Japan under his rule) successive family members erected mausoleums and temples in his and there own honour. These wonderfully decorated buildings together with the nice surroundings are the main reason tourists now flock to Nikko.
The design of the building follows traditional Japanese building styles but the decorations of the mausoleums are more elaborate from what you normally see in Buddhist or Shinto buildings.
A very popular decoration is the carving of the Three Wise Monkeys “hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil". It originates from this mausoleum in Nikko.
There are 123 lanterns on the precinct of Toshogu Shrine. Japanese feudal lords dedicated these to the mausoleum. But not all are Japanese gifts.
The Dutch East India Company (V.O.C.) presented a rotating lantern containing a brass chandelier, to the 3rd shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu in 1643. It was placed at the Nikko Toshogu Shrine. The maker is brass worker Joost Gerritszoon (1598-1652) who was well known for making chandeliers for churches in the Netherlands. The gift was presented as a tribute in return for better trade opportunities with Japan, and it worked.
(source: Boundaries and their Meanings in the History of the Netherlands “Deciphering The Dutch In Deshima” Author: Mia M. Mochizuki)
Iemitsu Mausoleum (Taiyuinbyo):
Taiyu-in Reibyo is the final resting place of Tokugawa Iemitsu, the grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu. The building is purposely less extravagant then the one of his ancestors.
The Koukamon Gate is the border between the Okunoin (Inner House) and other buildings. The Inner House is not open to the public. This Gate is built in Ming dynasty (Chinese) style.