Existing Member?


Two Shrines and a Temple: Nikko's Rinnō-ji

JAPAN | Saturday, 24 August 2019 | Views [40]

Sanbutsudo, Three Buddha Hall, Rinnō-ji

Sanbutsudo, Three Buddha Hall, Rinnō-ji

NIKKO COULD JUST BE THE JERUSALEM OF JAPAN.  Both cities have UNESCO World Heritage status and each has three important religious sites.  It’s probably a poor analogy — there is no strife in Nikko — Buddhist and Shinto practitioners tend to get along — and they are all Japanese, unlike Palestinians and Israelis, who each claim Jerusalem and will probably fight forever for it.   Still, the Dome of the Rock, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Western Wall are all in Jerusalem.  Nikko has the Buddhist Rinnō-ji Temple and two holy Shinto shrines,  Nikko Futarasan and Nikko Toshogu.  


       World Heritage Status

As Nikko prospered as a sanctuary for religion where Buddhism and Shinto became intertwined, all three sites came under a single leadership structure known as Nikkosan, a uniquely Japanese fusion of Shinto and Buddhism.  This fusion, called shinbutsu shugo, lasted until 1871 when the new government ordered the people to affiliate with either Shintoism or Buddhism.  So now there are two shrines and one temple.  Got it?


   Bhuddist Rinnō-ji Temple


                  Toshogu Five-Story Pagoda


                                     Shinto Futarasan Shrine

Well, yesterday we "did" Buddhist.  Before removing our shoes to enter the Rinnō-ji Temple, we discovered a wonderful 500-year old “temporary” shrine still gloriously standing.  Such shrines would house the sacred ornaments while the main hall was being upgraded, then they were dismantled.  But this one still stood, freshly painted and unduscivered by the crowds.  That we had the place to ourselves made it only more special.


    Gate in Rinnō-ji Temple


                 Temporary Shrine


                              Bronze Bell of Rinnō-ji Temple                                        

Shoes removed and camera stowed — no photos are permitted inside Rinnō-ji — we entered Sanbutsudo, the Three Buddhas Hall.  The trio of 8 meter tall gilded wooden Buddha statues that represent Nikko’s three sacred mountains, a reminder of the time when Shinto and Buddhism were joined.  If the golden statues towering above inspire awe in a non-Buddhist like me, imagine what they mean to followers of the True Path.


Add your comments

(If you have a travel question, get your Answers here)

In order to avoid spam on these blogs, please enter the code you see in the image. Comments identified as spam will be deleted.

About graynomadsusa

Dressed for Success, Sheikh Zayad Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Follow Me

Where I've been

Photo Galleries

My trip journals



Travel Answers about Japan

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.