Nikko Futarasan Shrine is located in the Nikko National Park and is part of the Nikko UNESCO World Heritage Temples and Shrines. Futarasan Shrine is a Shinto shrine and is dedicated to Mt. Futara of the Nikko National Park. Mt. Futara or Futarasan, is also called as Mt. Nantai (Nantaisan). It is one of the tallest mountains in the Nikko National Park. Mt. Futarasan is about a thirty minute walk from the Nikko central bus stop and Tobu Nikko Station.
The origin of this shrine believed to date back to 790, when Monk Shodo Shonin established it's main Shrine (Monk Shodo Shonin is responsible for establishing the Nikko area temples and shrines, including Chuzenji Temple).
Futarasan Shrine Seal
Futarasaan Shrine was designated and recognized as a most important shrine in the Shimotsuke (now called Tochigi Prefecture) area since the ancient times. In the Kamakura Period, this shrine came to be considered to be the guardian god of the Kanto Region by the Shogunate and the noble families. Futarasan Shrine is a perfect example of the nature worship that was practiced by the ancient Japanese as Shintoism. These nature gods included mountains, which believed to handle various phenomena such as clouds, rain, snow and thunder. Mountains were responsible for many nurturing aspects for human lives.
You can walk towards Futarasan Shrine, when you come out of the Rinnoji Temple (first temple in the Nikko Temples and Shrines), through a narrow ally way with many stone lanterns line up on the side. This is one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen in a Shrine setting in Japan.
Stone Lanterns lined up to the side Entrance Torii
In addition to the beautiful Main Worship Hall (Honden), this shrine consists of Mitomo Shrine, Daikokuden, Shiyosha (room for storing the portable shrine, used during festivals) and Hie Shrine. There is also a nice garden behind the Main Worship Hall, which is a must see if you have time.
Overall, this Shrine does not match the splendor and glitter of the Toshogu shrines in the Nikko area, but is lot more important as a place of worship in the hearts of the Tochigi people.