World Heritage / Shrines and Temples of Nikko

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


Things to see

Rinnoji Temple

Hondo (Three Buddha Hall)
Hondo (Three Buddha Hall)
Rinnoji Temple is the generic name of the temples on Mount Nikko. There is no actual building named Rinnoji but the origin of the name can be found in the history of Shihonryuji Temple, erected by Priest Shoto in 766. Later, after much development in the sect of mountain worship, Shihonryuji became a Tendai Sect temple under the auspices of the then popular Buddhist, Shintoist harmonization concept.
Following adoption as a guardian temple of Toshogu Shrine in 1617, it flourished until 1868 when, with the founding of the Meiji government, it was removed from this post by the sweeping measures to separate Buddhist and Shintoist ethics. Thereafter, Rinnoji Temple had no choice but to reorganize itself and in 1869 the name of Rinnoji was dropped. In 1871, 109 sub-temples were merged to form one large place of worship but from 1882, the name "Rinnoji" with its surviving 15 sub-temples were once again accepted for use in the emerging modern nation.
Hondo (Three Buddha Hall)
The Hondo is the main building of Rinnoji Temple. It is dedicated to the images of three mountains in Nikko: Senjukannon as Mt. Nantai, Amidanyorai as Mt. Nyoho and Batokannon as Mt. Taro. This is the origin of the name "Three Buddha Hall." The three 8m tall sculptures of the Buddha are made of wood, covered in gold leaf and are greatly admired for their early Edo era design.
The Hondo has repeatedly been reconstructed and relocated. The current Hondo though, was constructed in 1647 and relocated just once, in 1879, to the present site under the policy of the separation of Buddhism and Shintoism.
Futatsudo (Twin Halls)
The two, or twin halls, Jogyo-do and Hokke-do, are linked by a corridor and in Japan, only Mt. Hiei and Rinnoji Temple use this form of temple design.
The Jogyo-do was built in the Japanese style and was once used for "gyozanmai training." During training, ascetics used to walk around an image of the Buddha while chanting the Amida sutra – a ceremony still repeated at New Year's "Shushoe."
The Hokke-do is a vermilion colored Chinese-style building and is still used today for "hokkezanmai training," a form of confession and prayer using the Hokke sutra.

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