On 17 October 2013 we took a day trip to Nikko (north west of Tokyo), sacred to both Shinto and Buddhist worship. The first temple Rinno-ji was founded by Shodo Shonin in 766, the temple of Chuzen-ji in 784, and later the Fatarasan Shrine. When the first shogun of the Tokugawa clan died, the temple of Nikko Tosho-gu was built as his burial place, completed 1617. The two storey Yomei-mon (or Sunset) Gate, decorated with brilliant colours and over 500 sculptures, is particularly famous. From this gate an avenue leads to Nikko Toshu-mon Gate. The courtyard contains famous treasures by master carvers, especially Hidari Jingoro. Best known are the Three Monkeys – “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” – inspired by Buddhist teaching that by so doing we shall be spared from evil. The overwhelming richness of decoration in the temple, with many Chinese references, says that the emperor respected, and was aligned with, his powerful neighbour the Chinese Empire, but also saying that the Tokugawas were here to stay and rule: which they did, until the mid-1880s.

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