Nihondaira and Kunozan Toshogu Shrine
As probably everybody is doing the two sights, Nihondaira and Kunozan Toshogu Shrine, together, I decided to also write about them in one blog post.
You can access from either side and start with either sight. I started with Nihondaira that day.
Access to Nihondaira:
Nihondaira (日本平) is located in Shizuoka Prefecture (map) and can be accessed by Shizutetsu Bus in 40 mins from Shizuoka Station or 15 mins from Higashi Shizuoka Station. From there you can walk around to enjoy the various views.
Enjoying a beautiful view of Mt. Fuji:
From the summit observatory you can see Suruga Bay and the Izu Peninsula. On a clear day you can also see Mt. Fuji.
Although I went on a clear day, I couldn’t see Mt. Fuji at all.
If you have a very close look at the photo above, you might be able to make it out. Below one of the clouds you can see Mt. Fuji’s snow-covered top. I was really disappointed because I came all the way and the weather was good, too! Yet I wasn’t allowed to enjoy the beauty of Mt. Fuji.
Apart from the observatory platform there’s also a golf course and a few restaurants.
After enjoying the view of Mt. Fuji – or not – most people move on to visit the National Treasure “Kunozan Toshogu Shrine“.
It can be easily accessed by a short 5 mins ropeway ride that connects the summits of Mt. Nihondaira and Mt. Kuno. A round-trip for an adult will cost 1000yen, one-way 550yen.
Kunozan Toshogu Shrine – A national treasure
Toshogu Shrine on Mt. Kuno (久能山東照宮) is a very important national treasure as the body of the famous Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616) is entombed there.
It was built and maintained under the command of the second shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate, Ieyasu’s son Hidetada, 19 years before the Great Nikko Toshogu Shrine was built. It’s the oldest Toshogu shrine in Japan!
When entering via the “Romon Gate” you’ll see warrior statues that protect the gate.
Ieyasu Tokugawa overcame all kinds of difficulties in his life which is why he’s respected as a deity for safety for the family, protection against danger, health and longevity as well as academic success. Thus people come here to pray for any of those.
While the spirit of Tokugawa Ieyasu is considered to be the primary deity, called Tosho-Daigongen (東照大権現), there are also secondary ones: the spirits of the famous lords Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598) and Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582) who were enshrined there after the start of the Meiji period.
Cherry blossoms were at full bloom at the shrine.
There are a few smaller halls and buildings, but the main attraction and the most important one is the “Honden“, the main hall as you can see in the photo below.
The buildings were constructed in the style of Gongen architecture (Gongen-zukuri, 権現造) where the worship hall (Haiden) and the main hall (Honden) form the shape of an “H”.
Using techniques of the Momoyama Era, the buildings were decorated with extravagant wood carvings, gold leaf and colorful Japanese lacquer.
Here you can see a close-up of the wonderful wood carvings.
About 50m behind the main hall, you’ll find the “Shinbyo” that contains his body.
Ieyasu’s grave was relocated to the Nikko Toshogu Shrine by the third shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate, Iemitsu. However, a portion of Ieyasu’s deified spirit is considered to still reside on Mt. Kuno.
Here you see the ema (wooden wishing plaque) of the Toshogu Shrine.
Huge barrels of sake, most of them displaying Mt. Fuji.
Not pictured is the “Kunozan Toshogu Shrine Museum” that features about 2000 items, some of them are national treasures such as Ieyasu’s favorite glasses and a Spanish clock. Unfortunately photos weren’t allowed inside the museum.
When you’re done sightseeing, the easiest and most scenic way back is to hike down to the foot of Mt. Kuno from where you can take a bus back to JR Shizuoka Station.
Some people access the sights from here, but as you can see there are a lot of stairs and it’s a steep way up, so I recommend to start at Nihondaira instead and use this route for descending only!
Back down it can be a bit tricky to find the bus stop, so you might want to ask at the shrine before you leave the mountain!
Access via the foot of Mt. Kuno (by bus and then hike up to the shrine).
Both sights are connected by the Nihondaira Ropeway (~ 5 mins)