Monday, April 02, 2012

Nikko: Taiyuin Byo Shrine

Taiyuin Byo is the  mausoleum of the third Tokugawa shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu, the grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Tokugawa Iemitsu was a powerful shogun who closed Japan’s foreign trade and commerce, isolating it from the rest of the world for almost 200 years.
Taiyuin is the posthumous Buddhist name of Iemitsu and the mausoleum derives its name from this fact. Though Taiyuin Byo derives its inspiration from Toshogu, Taiyuin Byo’s décor has been purposely kept modest as a token of respect to the shogunate’s founder Ieyasu.

Taiyuin Byo is the furthest amongst all the shrines and temples on the walking trail. It is set in a grove of Japanese cedars and the natural setting gives it a different feel. It is interesting to note that Taiyuin Byo, a mausoleum has been designated as a Shinto shrine, but technically is a part of Rinno-ji, a Buddhist temple. 

Niomon Gate marks the entrance to the shrine and is guarded on either side by two Nio warriors.

A water fountain made of granite is also adorned with carvings and brightly coloured decorations.
A second gate Nitenmon is guarded by four guardian statues.
In the front are Komoku and Jikoku while the guards at the back represent the green god of Wind and red god of Thunder.
A flight of stairs leads up to a third gate.
On either side of the path leading to the gate are two identical structures- Bell tower and Drum tower. 
Though both are not used now, they have their own significance. Drum signifies Birth (positive energy) and Bell signifies Death(negative energy).
The third gate Yashamon Gate is gilded and carries delicate carvings. 

This gate also has 4 guardian statues, two in the front and two behind.

The gate as seen from the inside.

Beyond the gate, on the grounds various types of lanterns, made of stone or metal are found standing.

The sanctuary, Haiden, with its black and gold lacquer exteriors is also exquisitely decorated with carvings of dragons and other decorations. 

Some Chinese influence is also visible in the carvings and gilded work in Taiyuin Byo. 

The inner sanctuary, Honden, is closed to public and is said to house a gilded Buddhist altar and a wooden statue of Iemitsu.

A fourth gate, Kokamon Gate, is designed in Ming Dynasty Chinese style and is located close to the path leading to Iemitsu’s tomb.
Though smaller in scale than Toshogu, Taiyuin Byo is more visually appealing. The tall cedars add a dramatic effect to the place, enhancing the beauty of the handcrafted decor.     

To sum it up, Taiyuin Byo is a beautiful monument which combines Shinto and Buddhist elements.   

Opening Hours: 8:00-17:00 hrs ( Last admission 30 mins before closing time)
                        Closes at 16:00 hrs between November-March

Closing Days: Open 365 days

Admission  fees : 550 yen
                          1300 yen Combination ticket which includes entrance to Sanbutsu-do,
                          Treasure House, Shoyoen garden, Toshogu Shrine, Taiyuin Byo and 
                          Futarasan Shrine.  

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