This year only in Nikko, the Nikko Toshogu 400th Year Shikinen Grand Festival
2015 marks the 400-year anniversary of the death of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the man who began the reign of the Edo Shogunate.
As you may or may not know, the Nikko Toshogu Shrine enshrines the Tokugawa family themselves as gods, as part of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s last will and testament.
Starting with the Nikko Toshogu Shrine, the shrines and temples of the Nikko region of Japan will be celebrating this anniversary with a variety of events.
Without further ado, let’s see what they have in store!
To start with, the Toshogu Treasure Museum is a special new facility that will only be open during March 2015.
At this museum there is a virtual image of the Yomeimon Gate which is currently undergoing repairs and also a theater showing animations depicting Ieyasu’s childhood.
You might even be able to discover new parts of history you didn’t know about through special treasures such as a sword designated as a national treasure and other objects that the museum will have on display.
Many events are held in fall
Later in the fall there are a wide variety of events going on. On 10/15 the Yabusame International Tournament "International Horseback Archery" is being held.
Yabusame originates from the Muromachi period and later became popular among samurai in the Kamakura period; specifically, it is a traditional style of archery that involves shooting targets from on top of a galloping horse.
For this year’s tournament, riders from America, England, Mongolia, Turkey and other countries from around the globe will be joining in the tournament as part of an initiative for world peace.
The biggest memorial event this fall is the Nikko Toshogu 400th Year Autumn Celebration Grand Festival.
On 10/16, the "Kamiwaza Yabusame" will be held. This is a special event that has been carried out at the Nikko Toshogu Shrine every year since 1953 (Showa 28). As described earlier, it is a horseback archery event.
It’s a great opportunity to see this powerful event up close in person.
On 10/17 the Hyakumonozoroi Sennin Musha Gyoretsu (1,000 Samurai Procession Festival) is held. This event is a reproduction of the historical procession in which Ieyasu’s spirit was brought from Shizuoka Prefecture’s Mt. Kunozan to Nikko to be laid to rest.
At this grand parade you will see armored soldiers and their pages as well as portable shrines in a gorgeous and sacred display that resembles a Japanese picture scroll.
For those who aren’t satisfied with just watching events, on 10/24 you can enjoy the Nikko Shasan Walk. This is a walking event arranged as if it were a visit by the Tokugawa Shogunate to Nikko Toshogu Shrine, called a "Nikko Shasan". There are various ways to enjoy the walking course; a full-length walking course that goes all the way from Edo/Tokyo to Nikko, a walking course that is divided into smaller segments, and many others.
Why not come and enjoy the history and culture of Japan while you take in the roadside attractions?
Furthermore, when it comes to Nikko the autumn leaves must be mentioned. During the fall, the beautiful World Heritage temples and shrines of the Nikko region are lit up at night to celebrate the gorgeous fall colors. This year, for the limited period of 10/30 - 11/1 you can enjoy this beautiful hidden scenery.
Also, Nikko-zan Rinno-ji Temple is hosting the very first public viewing of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s mortuary tablet as well as the famous painting of Fuujin-Raijin. These are available for viewing until 11/30/2016.
Get relaxed in a hot spring
After a long day of enjoying the festival and events, why not rest your tired body in one of Nikko’s hot springs?
Nikko is home to a plethora of hot springs with varying water properties, such as Kinugawa Onsen, Kawaji Onsen, Yunishikawa Onsen, Kawamata Onsen, Okukinu Onsen, Okunikko Yumoto Onsen, Chuzenji Onsen, and Nikko Onsen just to name a few.
You can leisurely enjoy your time in the hot springs and taste local delicacies like "yuba" and Nikko soba.
Although this special year-long event promoting the charms of the Nikko area was originally to be restricted to 2015, the memorial anniversary is continuing into 2016.
The reason for this is that 2016 will mark the 400-year anniversary of the Nikko Toshogu Shrine’s construction. It also happens to fall on the 1250th-year anniversary of when Shodo Shonin founded Nikko during the Nara period.
For the time being the "Nikko You Should Not Miss" event will continue, so by all means we encourage you to visit.
We will welcome you with hospitality straight from the heart.