Guide to Kanto Region

Nikko history

Nikko is not only one of the most popular day trips from Tokyo, It's also one of Japan's major tourist attractions due to the splendor of its shrine and temples, and the surrounding natural beauty. Nikko's history as a sacred site stretches back to the middle of the 8th century when the Buddhist priest Shoto established a hermitage here. For many years it was known as a famous training center for Buddhist monk, although after a time it declined into obscurity. Nikko remained forgotten until it was chosen as the site for mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu. The warlord who took control of all Japan and established the Shogunate that ruled for 250 years until Admiral Perry and his American ships arrived in Tokyo Bay, just in time to usher in the Meiji restoration and the end of the feudal era.

Tokugawa Ieyasu was laid to rest among Nikko's towering cedars in 1617, but it was his grandson Tokugawa Iemitsu who, in 1617, commenced work on the imposing shrine that can be seen today. The original shrine, Toshogu , was completed rebuilt using an army of 15,000 artisans from all over Japan. The work on the shrine and mausoleum took two years to complete, and the results continue to receive mixed reviews. Toshogu was constructed as memorial to warlord who devoted his life to conquering Japan. Tokugawa Ieyasu was a man of considerable determination and was not above sacrificing a few scruples, or a few people, in order to achieve his aims.