Tōshō-gū Shrine

The Tōshō-gū Shrine is Nikko’s main attraction, and is dedicated to the first of the Tokugawa Shoguns, Tokugawa Ieyasu himself. Unlike more austere shrines elsewhere in Japan, the Tōshō-gū Shrine is elaborately carved, decorated, and gilt. Most famous of the painted carvings are those of a sleeping cat, as well as the three wise monkeys of Asian folklore.

The shrine complex was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1999, and the detail is said to be the best remaining example of Edo period workmanship in the country.

All of the main sights are worth seeing, but if you need a little breathing space we suggest visiting Ieyasu’s tomb, which sits at the top of 200 steps and is less frequented by visitors.

Nikko’s most famous festival is held here on 17th-18th May each year.