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.
Founded in 766 by the Buddhist monk Shōdō Shōnin, 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
Access is by foot or bus from the main train stations.
From JR Nikko Station or Tobu Nikko Station, you can take the world heritage tour bus which stops at the UNESCO 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.
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.
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 coexisted in Japan.
Surrounded by towering cedar trees and lush forests, the whole area is especially impressive with the fall colors.