The Shogun’s Resting Place
Nikko is another popular escape for the city folks. Located north of Tokyo (2 hours by train), Nikko is famous for its historical sites and natural scenery (especially during autumn season).
Among all of Nikko’s historical sites, the most famous is none other than Toshogu Shrine, final resting place of one of the most powerful shogun in Japanese history, Tokugawa Ieyasu. To house a man of such stature, Toshogu Shrine is indeed unlike any other shrine in Japan with buildings which are decorated with intricate and detailed carvings. It is indeed fit for a king.
The Yomeimon Gate is probably the most famous structure within the shrine complex… UNFORTUNATELY it is currently under renovation and covered by scaffolding (apparently until 2019). So, I didn’t even bother to take a photo. But here’s a Google image search link for your viewing pleasure.
During my visit, I noticed two carvings which attracted a great number of tourists lining up to take
The first one is the carving of the Three Wise Monkeys. “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” You’ve probably seen it somewhere before, in a book or poster. If you’ve ever wondered where the concept came from, well this is the place.
And then there is the carving of a sleeping cat, the Nemuri-neko. It is said that the sculptor spent 8 months studying and perfecting his sculpting to make the Nemuri-neko as realistic as possible. I think he did a darn good job. Wouldn’t you agree?
Passing the Nemuri-neko and climbing up a long flight of stairs will lead you to the tomb of Tokugawa Ieyasu. The area around the tomb feels quite different from the rest of the shrine complex. It’s not as heavily decorated and more minimalist in nature.
And that’s a wrap for Toshogu Shrine. It’s a shame that the Yomeimon Gate is undergoing renovation but I think the rest of the shrine is still worth a visit.