Having loved that drama, I have sought to visit all related historical sites across Japan in recent years. I have been to Nikko and seen the monumental tribute Iemitsu created for his grandfather. There was snow on the ground at that time and the scene was quite lovely.
My daughter and I had heard about another Toshogu Shrine while making preparations for our May travels. I read that it was not as popular than the Shrine at Nikko - because it is less publicized? I was very interested in seeing Hidetada's tribute to his father - if Nishida Toshiyuki can't make you like Hidetada, then nobody can.
There is a bus which takes you directly to the Toshogu Shrine, but we made a mistake and got on one that stops at the Nihondaira Zoo. It seemed like a pleasant place to spend the morning, but when you've got the Tokugawa on the brain, the zoo just won't cut it. There was no bus schedule listed at the zoo stop so we had to summon a taxi. The driver took us on a drive up the mountain for about 1100 yen. It is a simple drive with none of the hairpin turns of Nikko.
We were dropped off at the Nihondaira Ropeway. A round trip ticket costs 1000 yen per adult. I think it is worth it to take the ropeway. The view is very nice and the trip is quick. Your alternative is to climb up the 1,159 steps on the other side of the attraction. I have discovered that type of climb is not so easy.
The Kunozan Toshogu Shrine is built and decorated in similar colors and style as Nikko, but the area is smaller. I can imagine Hidetada wanting to create a fitting tribute to his father and it is beautiful - it is also much more accessible than Nikko. There is much to contemplate. Once there stood a pagoda, but it was, according to the guide, "pulled down in 1873 under the prohibition of hybrid worship."
Unfortunately, the Kunozan Toshogu Shrine Museum was closed for some minor construction on the day of our visit. The collection comprises about 2,000 items, including a Spanish clock owned by Ieyasu. It was a gift from Phillip III of Spain, and it is said to have been treasured by Ieyasu. It is also the oldest mechanical spring clock in Japan.
My daughter and I liked the Kunozan Toshogu Shrine. We thought that Iemitsu wanted to outshine his father Hidetada and make something bigger and better and more spectacular, so he built the Toshogu Shrine at Nikko. He seemed like that kind of guy.
Following our trip back on the ropeway we sat on a bench outside the Nihondaira Park Center. Four cats approached us. I always carry cat treats in my purse for such an occasion as this. Oh, they were excited and meowed as I distributed the contents of the bag to one and all. Then satisfied for the time being, they lolled in the sunshine amidst other tourists eating soft ice cream and regional strawberry confections.
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