Taiyūin-byō

Top choice shinto shrine in Nikkō

Ieyasu's grandson Iemitsu (1604–51) is buried here, and although the shrine houses many of the same elements as Tōshō-gū (drum tower, Chinese-style gates etc), the more intimate scale, lighter tourist footfall and gorgeous setting in a cryptomeria forest make it hugely appealing.

Look for dozens of lanterns donated by daimyō (domain lords), 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.


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