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World Heritage Sites in Nikko

July 4, 2008

World Heritage Sites in Nikko

The Shrines and Temples of Nikko, on the list of World Heritage Sites, are located amidst the picturesque mountains of the Tochigi Prefecture. Nikko is a ancient city that dates back to the 8th century and it’s an easy day trip from Tokyo. Some of the sights included in the area are the Futarasan -jinja (shrine) where you will find the Shinkyo, a sacred vermilion-lacquered wooden bridge, that dates back back to 1636.

You will also find the Toshogu Shrine, built in 1617 as the mausoleum of the Tokugawa Ieyasu. Many of the buildings in the shrine precincts are National Treasures and many more are classified as Important Cultural Properties. The buildings of the shrine are elaborately carved and are excellent examples of ancient Japanese architecture and design aesthetics.

Of the may stunning carvings adorning the buildings in Nikko one on my favorites is the sanzaru, the story of the three monkeys, located on the Shinyosha (Sacred Stable). Here they are modeling the old saying “See no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil”.

Lastly, Gojunoto (pictured on the right) is an 1818 reconstruction of the original five-storied pagoda, which was erected in 1650, but was lost in a fire in 1815.

Nikko is a two hour train ride from the Tokyo area, departing from either Asakusa or Tokyo stations and with it’s cooler average temperature and fresh mountain air it’s a nice break from heat and the humidity of the city.

Access the map of the area online but be sure to pick up information from the tourist information desk at the Nikko Station.

Photo Credit: Flickr, Shinkyo (Sacred Bridge), Nikko, Japan, Toshogu Shrine Approach, Nikko, pagoda, & the original