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World Heritage / Shrines and Temples of Nikko

Criteria: (i) (iv) (vi) | Date of Inscription: 1999 | Location: Tochigi Prefecture | Justification for Inscription


Things to see

Futarasan Shrine

Honden (Main Hall)
Honden (Main Hall)
Futarasan Shine originated as a small shrine dedicated to the god of Mt. Futara (the current Mt. Nantai). It was first erected by a priest named Shoto in 767 and in 782 he is said to have succeeded in reaching the summit where he built Okumiya Shrine. In the centuries since, it has been a focal point of Nikko area religious worship.
In the year 1617, Futarasan Shrine found itself supported by the Tokugawa Shogunate in order for the shrine to act as a guardian of the nearby Toshogu Shrine. During the Meiji era however, as the Tokugawa Shogunate started to crumble, the shrine was separated from the temple it protected in the nationwide policy of separating Buddhism and Shintoism.
Interestingly, the Chinese characters representing the name Futara can also be read as "Niko." And it is said that the famed Priest Kukai (also known as Kobo Daishi) indeed read them as such thereby giving the local area the name it retains until this day - "Nikko."
Honden (Main Hall)
The Honden is the only building that has retained its original 1619 appearance following an initial contribution of materials in that year by the then shogun Hidetada, 2nd of Japan's 15 Tokugawa shoguns; a fact proven by markings on a roof beam discovered during a 1902 period of restoration. Built in the Yatsumunezukuri Style of the Momoyama era, its exterior is decorated with metal, and compared to the more famous Toshogu Shrine, is relatively peaceful and free from crowds.
Futarasan Shrine has a collection of over 130 swords including confirmed national treasures and important cultural properties. The works of Rai Kunitoshi (a Kamakura era sword smith) and that of Bishu Osafune Tomomitsu (Nanbokucho era) are both designated as national treasures and these are contained within the Treasure House of Futarasan Shrine.
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