JDF JapanDefenseFocus No.100


Nikko Toshogu Shrine

Nikko Toshogu Shrine
Nikko Toshogu Shrine

Just north of Tokyo in Nikko city in Tochigi prefecture is Nikko Toshogu Shrine, where the first shogun of Japan’s Edo shogunate (1603 to 1867), Tokugawa Ieyasu, is enshrined.

The Shrines and Temples of Nikko were registered as a World Heritage Site in 1999. Nikko Toshogu Shrine is the most famous shrines there, and among the 55 buildingsthere, eight buildings are designated as National Treasures.These eight buildings feature intricate carvings painted in vivid colors, which create magnificent and graceful facades that enchant viwers.

Around 60 ceremonies and various events are held at Nikko Toshogu Shrine throughout the year, and the most famous one is the Nikko Toshogu Shrine Annual Grand Spring Festival that runs for two days from May 17th. The highlights are the Yabusame ritual held on the 17th, in which archers shoot arrows while riding horseback, and the Hyakumono-Zoroe Sennin Gyoretsu procession on May 18th,featuring approx. 1,200 men dressed in samurai warrior outfits marching to reproduce the scene from the 17th Century when the grave of Tokugawa Ieyasu was transferred from Mount Kunosan in Shizuoka Prefecture to Nikko.

There are also many other tourist attractions surrounding Nikko Toshogu Shrine, including several hot springs, Lake Chuzenji that was formed from the eruption of Mount Nantai, Kegon Falls and its 97-meter high main waterfall cascading down a steep cliff.

The JGSDF has Camp Utsunomiya located in Utsunomiya City of Tochigi prefecture, which was set up in 1950 as a key strategic point in the area. It houses the Central Readiness Regiment (CRR), the 12th Artillery Unit, and the 307th Civil Engineer Squadron.

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