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Culture & History

Nikko Toshogu Shrine

Nikko Toshogu Shrine Nikko Toshogu Shrine
Nikko Toshogu Shrine Nikko Toshogu Shrine

Nikko Toshogu Shrine in winter — for quiet exploration


Toshogu Shrine was built in 1617 to enshrine the first Tokugawa shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616). The shrine is quite different from usually staid, Japanese-style shrines. Toshogu’s buildings and pagoda feature intricate carvings and are painted in vibrant colors. The most impressive is the Yomeimon gate, which reopened to the public in 2017 after a lengthy restoration. The Three Wise Monkeys are another highlight — a carving which gave rise to the maxim “hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil.”


Many visitors are drawn to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Nikko every year, especially during the warmer months. If you would prefer to explore the temple complex without the crowds, consider visiting during the quieter winter months. The combination of deep snow and the vibrant colors of the shrine are particularly striking. Nearby, take in placid winter views of Shinkyo Bridge and Lake Chuzenji.



How to get there


You can access Nikko Toshogu Shrine easily from Nikko Station and Tobu Nikko Station. A shuttle bus from these stations makes a stop at the shrine. Alternatively, it takes 45 minutes to walk from the stations, and you can see some of the other historical points of interest along the way.


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