Rinnoji Temple 輪王寺

Nikkosan-Rinno-ji Temple
Nikkosan-Rinno-ji Temple

Nikko's ornate temple to the mountain gods

Like the neighboring Toshogu Shrine , elaborate, gilded carvings distinguish Rinnoji Temple, dedicated to the gods of the three mountains behind it. Founded by the monk Shodo Shonin, it is Nikko's most important Buddhist temple.

Quick Facts

Founded in 766 by the Buddhist monk Shodo Shonin, it is still used for ascetic training among Tendai monks

Currently undergoing renovations until 2019, the temple is still open to the public, though scaffolding covers most of the building

How to Get There

Access is by foot or bus from the main train stations.

From Nikko Station or Tobu Nikko Station, you can take the World Heritage tour bus that stops at the UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Rinnoji Temple. The bus ride will take about 15 minutes.

Walking to the temple takes longer, but Nikko has a lot of beautiful sights to see. The walk takes about 45 minutes from Nikko Station.

Rinnoji Temple in early fall

The most impressive sight at Rinnoji Temple is the three eight-meter-tall, gold-lacquered Buddha statues, each showing a different facet of Buddha. The three statues also represent the three Nikko mountain gods Mt. Nantai, Mt. Nyoho and Mt. Taro.

The three massive Buddhas housed at Rinnoji Temple

Rinnoji was founded by the same priest who founded Futarasan-jinja Shrine , a Shinto place of mountain worship. This temple is a notable example of how the two religions co-exist in Japan.

Surrounded by towering cedar trees and lush forests, the whole area is especially impressive with the fall colors.

Like much of Nikko's shrines and temples, Rinnoji Temple was built to complement the surrounding nature.

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