Toshogu Shrine is located in the Nikko National Park, which is part of the Tochigi Prefecture in Japan. Toshogu Shrine is part of the Nikko UNESCO World Heriage Temples and Shrines. Please read my section about to Nikko National Park to find out more about the directions to get to Nikko area.
The enshrined deity in Nikko Toshogu Shrine is the First Tokugawa Shogun Ieyasu.
Born in 1542 AD, a period of civil wars in Japan, Ieyasu succeeded in unifying the country and made great contributions to the foundation of peace and culture for the modern Japan. The saying of "Do not say great, until you see Nikko", would be so true of this Shrine. Visiting this Shrine alone will make you say "GREAT", unconsciously because of the splendor and the beauty of this Shrine.
Nikko Toshogu Shrine Seal
After Ieyasu passed away in 1616, this Shrine was built as a mausoleum by Tokugawa Ieyasu's son Tokugawa Hidetada. It is said that fifty third Head Priest of the Tendai faith, Monk Jigen Daishi was a close confidant of Shogun Ieyasu. After the death of his master and friend Shogun Ieyasu, Monk Jigen Daishi according to Shogun's will, moved his ashes from Kunozan (Shizuoka) Temple to Nikko, and based upon the esoteric doctrine of the Sanno-Ichijitsu Shintoism, established Shogun Ieyasu's Mausoleum at Toshogu Shrine.
The Toshogu Shrine was then rebuilt by Third Tokugawa Shogun Iemitsu (grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu). Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu himself was deified at the Rinnoji Taiyuin Mausoleum, just a few minutes walk from the Toshogu Shrine (within the Nikko area).
The present buildings of Toshogu Shrine, which consist of twenty-three main structures stand at the altitude of 640 meters above the sea level, covering its precincts of 80,000 square meters. Central Nikko area is at this same height from the sea level.
When Tokugawa Iemitsu rebuilt the Toshogu Shrine, he created a architectural and design marvel, that is unmatched anywhere in the world. The Toshogu Shrine has been a treasure since then for the entire Japan and many Toshogu Shrines in the similar design and structure built elsewhere. But none can match the splendour of the Nikko Toshogu Shrine. Tokugawa Iemitsu used the master artists of the Edo era to rebuild the Toshogu Shrine. It required the total number of 4,533,648 laborers and it took seventeen months to rebuild this Shrine. The total cost estimated for this rebuilt alone was at two hundred and fifty million US dollars of present currency value.
Since the initial built of this Shrine by Tokugawa Hidetada, the Toshogu Shrine had undergone very extensive reconstructions over twenty times. All the designs, carvings and paintings always reflect the style of the Edo Period of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
Here is a video of this spectacular Nikko Toshogu Shrine: