The Nikko Toshogu Shrine
Tokugawa Ieyasu, a Shogun who brought order and organization to Japan died on April 17, 1617. To entomb his remains The Shinto Shrine Nikko Toshogu was established in 1617 under the name of Tosho Shrine and was given the designation of Toshogu Shrine from 1645.
Even though renovations and maintenance works have been carried out from the construction of the Shrine 1617, major renovations were made in 1636 which result is the shrine that you can see today and the renovation of 1688 which involved the dismantling of the main building. From 2007 a new renovation project is underway, this long-term renovation is planned to be completed in 2024 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Tokugawa Ieyasu which will take place in 2015.
The shrine consists of fifty-five buildings and is famous because of the use of paths, stairways and its location in the middle of a natural environment. The decoration inside the buildings full of colors active our senses. Carvings are another important element within Toshogu Shrine, covering pillars and other structures within the temple, symbolizing religious belief and philosophical thought. Thanks to all these factors the shrine complex was registered as a World Heritage site in December 1999.
During the year there are many events that take place in the shrine, but The Reitaisai and Mikoshi-togyo-sai are particularly famous.
Reitasai is held on May 17th and 18th. It name means the Grand Festival, three portable shrine (Futarasan Shrine and the Yoinari-sai) are brough to a special area set up on the front approach to the Shrine in the evening and then a religious ceremony is performed.
The Portable Shrine Procession(Mikoshi-togyo-sai) is held on May 18th.The procession consist of over 1,200 attendants accompanying the procession to the Otabi-sho (Sojourn Hall) traditional food is prepared and the Chief Priest read the incantations. The event ends when the procession returns to the Toshogu Shrine again.