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Nikko is a small city at the entrance to Nikko National Park. It is famous for the Toshogu, Japan's most lavishly decorated shrine complex and mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate.

Nikko has been a center of Shinto and Buddhist mountain worship for many centuries, and Nikko National Park continues to offer scenic, mountainous landscapes, lakes, waterfalls, hot springs, wild monkeys and hiking trails. Nikko and the area around Lake Chuzenji, are well known for their beautiful autumn foliage.

Main attractions

Toshogu Shrine

The Toshogu is the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa shogunate, which ruled Japan for over 250 years until 1868. The shrine is dedicated to the spirits of Ieyasu and two other of Japan's most influential historical personalities, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Minamoto Yoritomo. The decorated shrine complex consists of more than a dozen Shinto and Buddhist buildings set in a forest.

Initially a relatively simple mausoleum, Toshogu was enlarged into an impressive complex seen today by Ieyasu's grandson Iemitsu during the first half of the 17th Century. Countless wood carvings and large amounts of gold leaf were used to decorate the buildings which was very uncommon compared to the usual Japanese style.


The Taiyuinbyo is the mausoleum of the third Tokugawa shogun, Iemitsu, the grandson of Ieyasu. The Taiyuinbyo resembles the Toshogu in its layout (decorations), but it is intentionally kept more modest than the Toshogu. Like the Toshogu, the Taiyuinbyo combines many Shinto and Buddhist elements. Taiyuinbyo belongs to Rinnoji Temple.

Kanmangafuchi Abyss

A long series of jizo protector statues on the side of a hill, some adorned with hats and bibs, some crumbling with age, with a river, small waterfalls and rapids below. Legend says that the statues change places from time to time, and a visitor will never see them in the same order twice.

It can be tricky to find - at Shinkyō, instead of heading up the steps to the temple area, follow the road around to the west. Tamozawa Imperial Villa Memorial Park Built for the Emperor Taisho in 1899, the former imperial villa also served as a hide-out for Hirohito during World War II.

It's next to the Botanical Garden. Nikko Botanical Garden Has plenty of the local flora and gardens that were said to be favorites of the Emperor Taisho.


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