Nikko
Nikko_YomeimonKairo


The pinnacle of Japanese shrine architecture, Nikko’s construction employed
4.5 million artists and craftsmen for 17 months and cost the equivalent of 40 billion yen.
It enshrines Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Tokugawa Shogun and one of Japan’s three great unifiers.

As the Nikko Section contains over 100 highly-detailed images, I have split
the section into three pages. This first page covers the entrance area and the
Lower Level. The second page covers the Yomeimon Gate and the Tozai Kairo
including the Tozai Kairo’s ornate exterior nature panels. The third page covers the
Upper Level, including the Honsha (central shrine) and Okusha (inner shrine).
I have provided a hyperlinked index to the entire three-page section on
each page, so you can navigate to any part of Nikko if you want to.

Click an image to open a larger version.
Use your back button to return to this page.
Composites will open in a second window.
 

Nikko Section Index

— Links are grouped by pages —

The Entrance
The Tale of the Three Monkeys
The Lower Level


 

The Yomeimon Gate
Tozai Kairo (Colonnade)
Tozai Kairo exterior panels

The Upper Level
Honsha (central shrine)
Okusha (innermost shrine)
 

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

PhotoshelterGallerySection


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
— Nikko Toshogu Shrine is in the following Galleries (Direct Link) —

Nikko Toshogu Shrine: Lower Level

Nikko Toshogu Shrine: Honsha and Okusha

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Nikko Toshogu Shrine

Two hours northeast of Tokyo by train, in the Cryptomeria forests around Mt. Nantai, lies Nikko, the site
of the premiere Toshogu Shrine and Ieyasu Tokugawa’s tomb.  This magnificent architecture blends
with the forest to create a visual and spiritual impression that is awe-inspiring and truly memorable.
Nikko’s Toshogu Shrine represents the pinnacle of Japanese Shrine architecture. Below you will
find a very comprehensive set of images of the Toshogu Shrine. I’ve tried to cover it completely.

 

There’s a saying in Japan:

 

“See Nikko before you die”.

 

It cost the equivalent of 40 billion yen in today’s currency to build... that’s a $333 million shrine. ( ! )
4.5 million people worked on the shrine for 17 months to complete the construction. The very finest
of Japan’s artists and sculptors (especially sculptors), and the best craftsmen were on the project.

 

Nikko is an amazing place.
I tried to cover it completely.
The most extensive section
of the Japan portfolio, I have
used more wide thumbnails
than usual. The buildings and
decorations are very detailed
and quite ornate, extensively
sculpted and painted, and the
location in a forest adds detail
due to the fine needles. This is
an unbelievably detailed place.

 

Because of all the needles
and detailed sculpturing of
the buildings, file sizes can
grow larger. I used more of
the wide thumbnails so that
enough detail is exhibited in
display images and to allow
easier decisions on which of
the larger images to open.  I
guarantee you’ll find it worth
the time to open many of the
 large versions of these shots.

 


Yomeimon Gate

Nikko_Yomeimon_8132


Nikko Yomeimon 8132

The hazy overcast day and shooting towards the early morning light reduced contrast.

In the rectangular bays flanking the passageway through the center of the gate
sit two archers. Top center, under the Chinese-style arched gable (Kara Hafu)
is the Imperial dedication plaque with Emperor Gomizuno’s inscription.

Nikko_YomeimonGate_8193


Nikko Yomeimon Gate 8193

The Yomeimon Gate leads to Nikko’s 2nd level. The gate is elaborately decorated with 508 sculptures of dragons, Iki (dragon with nostrils on the upper lip) and other dragons, such as ‘giraffes’ (single-horned dragons), flying dragons, shin, and horse-dragons, (2 horns) along with lions, tapirs, elephants,  rhinoceros, and phoenix, as well as other imaginary animals. There are also numerous sculptures of people from Chinese legends and Japanese life.

Nikko_YomeimonGate_8579


Nikko Yomeimon Gate 8579

Nikko_YomeimonGate_Guardian_8293


Nikko Yomeimon Gate Guardian 8293

Nikko_YomeimonGate_Guardian_8291


Nikko Yomeimon Gate Guardian 8291

Nikko_YomeimonGateGuardians_8775_80


Nikko Yomeimon Gate Guardians 8775, 8780
(Composite will open in a second window)

Nikko_YomeimonGate_detail_8158


Nikko Yomeimon Gate detail 8158

The Yomeimon Gate is a National Treasure, and is considered the masterpiece
of the structures at Nikko. The white dragon at bottom center is a Horse dragon
(note the hooves), and to his right is another Horse dragon in profile. Below the
 large dragon at top right is an Iki (the Iki is a dragon with nostrils on the upper lip).
Below are more detail shots including two large detail crops showing entire sections.

Nikko_YomeimonGate_Shinyosha_8772


Nikko Yomeimon Gate Shinyosha 8772

Nikko_Yomeimon_Dragons_8157


Nikko Yomeimon Dragons 8157

Above, a 1500px low-angle shot of the dragons.

To the left, the interior left facade of the gate
with the Shinyosha in the background. The
Shinyosha (shown further below) houses
the Mikoshi (sacred palanquins used to
transport the deities in processions).
They are used in ceremonies and
are also called portable shrines.

Nikko_YomeimonGate_detail_8171


Nikko Yomeimon Gate detail 8171

1500 pixel linked image.
Detail of some of the human figures on
the Yomeimon Gate. Note the kimono detail.

Nikko_YomeimonGate_detail_8612


Nikko Yomeimon Gate detail 8612
(this is a highly detailed image of 747kb)

This image shows about 80% of the sculptures
on both levels of the interior side of the gate.

Nikko_Yomeimon_8566


Nikko Yomeimon 8566

An 1886 x 491 detail crop of the entire lower level of the entrance side.
 

Return to the Index at the top of this page

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

PhotoshelterGallerySection


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
— Nikko Toshogu Shrine is in the following Galleries (Direct Link) —

Nikko Toshogu Shrine: Lower Level

Nikko Toshogu Shrine: Honsha and Okusha

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Tozai Kairo

Enclosing the upper level shrine buildings is a roofed colonnade (kairo)
called the Tozai Kairo. It is part of a structure that includes the Tozai Sukibe,
which are roofed walls with latticework that enclose the Honsha (the central shrine
buildings: Honden, Haiden and the Ishinoma which connects the two). The Kairo also
encloses several structures wholly within the Kairo itself, such as the one shown below.

The Tozai Kairo exterior is decorated with sculpted translucent relief panels of nature
scenes and wildlife that are simply amazing. They were painted using Mitsuda-e,
a secret Kano school technique of mixing and applying the oil paint so that it
was resistant to Ultraviolet and weather. This technique was lost in the
Meiji period, but recently rediscovered by Mr. Yoshihara Hokusai.

Nikko_Kairo_8280


Nikko Kairo 8280

Nikko_TozaiKairo_8671


Nikko Tozai Kairo 8671

This part of the Kairo passes by the Kamishamusho (shown on the right), where the Shinto services are conducted. This shot was taken early the morning after image 8280. I got to the shrine very early and arranged to go in 10 minutes before the gate  opened. This allowed me to get to the upper level just as services were about to be conducted by the priest. I took a number of shots both before and during services. Two of the images that were taken during the service are shown below.

Nikko_Kamishamusho_8658


Nikko Kamishamusho 8658

The priest rings the gong to let the Kami know that he is there and the service is starting.
I have provided this image at 1565 x 868 with no watermark.

Nikko_Kamishamusho_8691


Nikko Kamishamusho 8691

The priest performs morning services at the Kamishamusho (upper office).
The name was changed from Kitouden (prayer hall) when the Meiji government
ordered the separation of Buddhist temples from Shinto shrines. They allowed the
Kitouden to stay at Toshogu, but it had to be ‘changed’ to an ‘office building’.
I have provided this image at 1469 x 1175 with no watermark.

Nikko_TozaiKairo_ext_8786_8138


Nikko Tozai Kairo exterior 8786, 8138
(composite will open in a second window)

A 2146 x 640 2-shot composite of the exterior of the southern part
of the Tozai Kairo, showing the 25 carved panels of nature scenes.

Kairo_PheasantSection_8574


Kairo Pheasant Section 8574

A steep oblique down the exterior section of the Tozai Kairo that contains
scenes of wildlife and foliage along with some Philosophical Symbolism.
 

Return to the Index at the top of this page

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

PhotoshelterGallerySection


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
— Nikko Toshogu Shrine is in the following Galleries (Direct Link) —

Nikko Toshogu Shrine: Lower Level

Nikko Toshogu Shrine: Honsha and Okusha

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Tozai Kairo Exterior Panels

TozaiKairo_WildlifePanels_8143_44_49_50

Tozai Kairo Wildife Panels 8143, 44, 49, 50
(Composite will open in a second window)

These are very detailed scenes, and result in rather large files.
Considering the amount of detail in most images in the Nikko section,
I am sure you are getting used to it... but I’d like to limit download time.
To keep things somewhat reasonable, I limited the number of scenes,
and reduced four into a 1505 x 905 composite (which is still over 600 kb).

There are 14 images detailing Tozai Kairo Nature panels in the Nikko Portfolio.

KairoPanel_8143


Kairo Panel 8143

The top left scene in the composite above.

The paint mixing and application technique used for the Toshogu shrine is one that was developed and kept secret by the famous Kano school of painters. It is resistant to ultraviolet light and water and retains its vibrance for a very long time even though it is in the sun and weather. Called Mitsuda-e, this ancient oil painting technique was lost in the Meiji era and was only recently re-discovered by Yoshihara Hokusai. Mr. Yoshihara recently restored the Omizuya over a 15 year period.

The coloring of the Toshogu sculptures requires 35 steps, and only 7 colors are used.

KairoPanel_8146


Kairo Panel 8146

One of the 25 upper section panels on the
 southern Tozai Kairo exterior is this Peacock..

KairoPanel_8152


Kairo Panel 8152

This is a Hou-ou, Asian equivalent to a Phoenix.
It appears to herald the dawn of a new era.

The Hou-ou is an interesting mythical bird as well as an omen. Introduced to Japan from China in the Asuka period (538-710), it was adopted as a symbol of the Imperial House (particularly the Empress), and symbolized Fire, the Sun, Justice, Obedience, and Fidelity. According to legend, the Hou-ou appears very rarely, and only to mark a new era (in this case, the ending of the war and chaos of the Sengoku (Warring States) period and the beginning of the Edo era (and the Tokugawa Shogunate).

Hou-ou_KairoPanel_8149


Hou-ou KairoPanel 8149

It has the head of a Golden Pheasant, neck of a Snake, body of a Mandarin Duck, tail of a Peacock,
legs of a Crane, mouth of a Parrot, and... well, you get the idea. It’s sort of a Rube Goldberg bird. This
one has different head color, wing and tail feathers than those shown in image 8152 (possibly female).

KairoPanel_8147


Kairo Panel 8147

The mother bird shown above seems to be telling her chicks to leave the poor ducks alone.
This is an example of how the upper panels interact with the lower ones. I have cropped the
sculptures from their frames and moved the lower panel up to keep image size reasonable.

KairoPanel_ShoChikuBai_Cranes_8148


Kairo Panel Sho Chiku Bai Cranes 8148

This panel is one of several that illustrates Philosophy via symbolism.

Above, the large panel depicts Pine (Sho), Bamboo (Chiku) and Plum (Bai).
The lower panel depicts two Cranes surrounded by the turbulent sea of adversity.

    Sho:

Pine trees flourish in the most inhospitable conditions, clinging to rocky cliffs and flourishing where
no other living thing can. It stays green in the winter and doesn’t lose its needles. It lives a long time,
and grows gnarly and beautifully weathered with age. The pine tree symbolizes longevity, endurance,
inner strength, and resistance to hardship (another Kairo panel devoted to pine is shown below).

    Chiku:

Bamboo symbolizes flexibility, resilience and strength. It bends in the wind or under heavy weights
of snow, but never breaks even in harsh winds. It thrives in any kind of soil and is green all year.

    Bai:

Plum symbolizes beauty and optimism during times of adversity. Plum trees blossom
while winter snows are still on the ground, showing their strength and optimism.

KairoPanel_8140


Kairo Panel 8140

Another panel devoted to pine, with a different interpretation.
I have provided this image with no watermark.

Kairo_MandarinsHeronsCranes


Kairo panels: Mandarin Ducks, Night Herons and Japanese Cranes

A composite of three of the lower panels. This is a rather large file size.
I have provided this image without watermark. (1427 x 1125, 737kb)

The Kairo panels were carved by Hidari Jingoro and painted by Kano Tanyu.

Nikko_TozaiKairo_ext_8789


Nikko Tozai Kairo exterior 8789

A 1500 x 1200 image showing what I call the Pheasant side of the Tozai Kairo exterior.

Nikko_LowerLevel


Click banner above to go to the Nikko 1 page.

Nikko_UpperLevel


Click banner above to go to the Nikko 3 page.

Return to the Index at the top of this page

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

PhotoshelterGallerySection


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
— Nikko Toshogu Shrine is in the following Galleries (Direct Link) —

Nikko Toshogu Shrine: Lower Level

Nikko Toshogu Shrine: Honsha and Okusha

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Return to the Shinto Shrines index page

Shrines

Return to the Master Index on the Japan Select page.

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