Taiyūin-byō

sights / Religious

Lonely Planet review

Enshrining Ieyasu's grandson Iemitsu (1604–51) is Taiyūin-byō. Though it houses many of the same elements as Tōshō-gū (storehouses, drum tower, Chinese-style gates etc), its smaller, more intimate scale and setting in a cryptomeria forest make it very appealing.

Among Taiyūin-byō's many structures, look for dozens of lanterns donated by daimyō, and the gate Niō-mon, whose guardian deities have a hand up (to welcome those with pure hearts) and a hand down (to suppress those with impure hearts). Inside the main hall, 140 dragons painted on the ceiling are said to carry prayers to the heavens; those holding pearls are on their way up, and those without are returning to gather more prayers.