We started our day off at Shinkyo Bridge, where we crossed the street and entered Nikko National Park. Nikko National Park contains 103 religious sites and is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. We had watched videos and had seen just how busy Nikko can get, so we decided to visit a few of the “off the beaten path” locations. We also were able to enjoy a gorgeous hike through the cedar forest!
The first temple we arrived at in Nikko Park was Rinnoji. he decided to purchase tickets and enter the main shrine called Sanbutsudo (for this shrine only and tour it is 400yen). We got stuck in a Japanese tour, but it wasn’t too long, and this allowed us to see the three wooden, but golden clad figures: Amida, Senju-Kannon “Kannon with a thousand arms” and Bato-Kannon “Kannon with a horse head” . Being able to see these figures made the tour completely worth it!! No photography is allowed.
From here we walked to Toshogu shrine. We decided to not go in because it was swarming with tourists and cost 1300 Yen.The approach was cedar lined and gorgeous!!!
From there we walked to Futarasan Shrine (二荒山神社, Futarasan Jinja) . There was a sacred tree of match making, where we all offered our thanks for the perfect matches we had been blessed with <3. Just outside the western exit of Futarasan Shrine, and between that and Taiyuinbyo Lemitsu you will find the Takino-o Path. This pathway was the highlight of my time in Nikko. The ancient stone pathway is lined with cedar trees, and well off the tourist path. Buddhist priests who trained with ascetic practices (abstention from indulgences to an extreme degree) would make the pilgrimage to Takino-o Shrine, up until the beginning of the Meiji Era.
Once you arrive at the top of the cedar pathway, you will find a little temple called Gyoja-do (the shrine for ascetics). From here you turn slightly right and climb down the hill a bit. This pathway will take you to Takino-o Inari Shrine.
This was such an amazing find, with so few other people. There was a waterfall along the way called Shiraito Falls. Once you pass the waterfalls, you will see the entrance to Takino-o Shrine. The original shrine here was built in 820 AD.
The stone torii gate way along the path has a small hole in the cross beam. If you are able to throw a stone through the hole, you will be blessed with good fortune (but you can only try three times to make the shot).
We then walked back down the hill, and headed to Taiyuinbyo Shrine (the mausoleum for the third Tokagawa Shogun, and the grandson of Ieyasu).
TO BE CONTINUED…
Here is the video we made during this day’s exploration in Japan: