Nikko-san Rinnoji Temple

Nikko’s ornate temple to the mountain gods

Nikko, a small town located in Tochigi Prefecture, japan, is known for its rich cultural heritage and stunning natural beauty. One of the most prominent landmarks in Nikko is Rinnoji Temple, a Buddhist temple that is dedicated to the mountain gods. With its elaborate gilded carvings and impressive statues, Rinnoji Temple stands as a testament to the region’s religious and artistic traditions.

Rinnoji Temple was founded in 766 by the Buddhist monk Shodo Shonin. It has since become the most important Buddhist temple in Nikko and continues to be used for ascetic training among Tendai monks. The temple underwent a major renovation that was completed in 2020, and it is now fully open to the public.

To reach Rinnoji Temple, visitors can either take a bus or walk from the main train stations in Nikko. There is a World Heritage tour bus that stops at the UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Rinnoji Temple. The bus ride takes about 15 minutes. Alternatively, visitors can choose to walk to the temple, which takes approximately 45 minutes from Nikko Station. Although the walk is longer, it allows visitors to enjoy the beautiful sights of Nikko along the way.

Once inside Rinnoji Temple, the most impressive sight awaits visitors – the three gilded Buddha statues. Each statue stands at a towering height of 7.5 meters and represents the deities of the three mountains of Nikko: Mt. Nantai, Mt. Nyoho, and Mt. Taro. The intricate details and craftsmanship of these statues are truly awe-inspiring and reflect the devotion and skill of the artisans who created them.

Rinnoji Temple is not the only religious site in Nikko that was founded by Shodo Shonin. Futarasan-jinja Shrine, located nearby, was also established by the Buddhist priest. Both the temple and the shrine serve as places of worship in the mountains and exemplify the coexistence of Buddhism and Shintoism in Japan. Surrounded by towering cedar trees and lush forests, the entire area is particularly stunning during the fall season when the leaves change color.

The construction of Rinnoji Temple, like many other shrines and temples in Nikko, was carefully planned to complement the natural surroundings. The architecture and design of the temple blend harmoniously with the serene landscape, creating a peaceful and spiritual atmosphere. Visitors can immerse themselves in the tranquility of the temple grounds, taking in the sights and sounds of nature while appreciating the cultural and historical significance of the site.

In conclusion, Rinnoji Temple in Nikko is a remarkable testament to Japan’s rich cultural heritage. Its ornate carvings, towering Buddha statues, and tranquil surroundings make it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in exploring the country’s religious and artistic traditions. Whether arriving by bus or taking a leisurely walk, visitors will be captivated by the beauty and serenity of Rinnoji Temple. As they step inside the temple grounds, they will be transported to a world of spirituality and tranquility, where the mountain gods are honored and revered.

Address And Maps Location:

2300 Sannai, Nikko-shi, Tochigi-ken

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