ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Posts tagged “Yaksha

TAIYUINBYO SHRINE (輪王寺大猷院), Rinnoji Temple, Nikko (日光), Japan

Tokugawa Iemitsu (徳川家光), the grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康), was the third shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty.  Somewhat modest than Ieyasu’s final resting place, Iemitsu built his mausoleum less than ten minutes of walk away from Toshogu Shrine (東照宮).  Unlike the tightly packed Toshogu Shrine, visiting Iemitsu’s Taiyuinbyo Shrine in Rinnoji Temple (輪王寺大猷院) was much more relaxing.  There were only a handful of visitors during our visit.  Despite the renovation scaffolding here and there in preparation for the anticipated visitor influx during Tokyo Olympics 2020, we had quite a tranquil and delightful moment as we wandered in Taiyuinbyo Shrine, a sub temple of Rinnoji Temple.  We thought of visiting the other UNESCO world heritage temples and shrines in Nikko, such as Rinnoji Temple (輪王寺) and Futarasan Shrine (二荒山神社), but changed our mind when we saw renovation scaffolding here and there.  Toshogu and Taiyuinbyo were the only two temples and shrines that we ended up visiting.

01A pebble path with stone lanterns led us from the forecourt of Toshogu Shrine (東照宮) to the entrance gateway of Futarasan Shrine (二荒山神社).

02The Futarasan Shrine (二荒山神社) is an important Shinto shrine in Nikko inscribed in the World Heritage along with Toshogu Shrine (東照宮) and Rinnoji Temple (輪王寺).

DSC_7762Other than the main hall and a number of shrines in the complex, the iconic Sacred Bridge (神橋 shinkyō) of Nikko also belongs to the Futarasan Shrine.

03We didn’t go into Futarasan Shrine (二荒山神社), but passed by the Haiden (拝殿), the Hall of Prayers, a few small shrine pavilions and a stone lion at its forecourt.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom Futarasan Shrine, we found our way to Taiyuinbyo Shrine, a sub-temple belonged to the Buddhist Rinnoji Temple (輪王寺).  The Taiyuinbyo Shrine is the mausoleum of Tokugawa Iemitsu (徳川家光), the grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康).

05Similar to other major temples and shrines in Nikko, Taiyuinbyo Shrine also had its share of renovation scaffolding when we were there.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA long flight of stair led us to the main platform of Taiyuinbyo Shrine.

07Approaching the core area of Taiyuinbyo Shrine was like entering into a spiritual venue in the embrace of tall cedar forest.  The Yasha-mon (夜叉門) was the first splendid architecture we saw without scaffolding at Taiyuinbyo.

08There are four Yaksha (夜叉) statues at the Yasha-mon (夜叉門): white, red, blue and green.  Yaksha is nature spirits and guardians of natural treasures.

09Not as extravagant as the Toshogu Shrine, Taiyuinbyo Shrine does have its fair share of rich carvings and architectural features.

10Like Toshogu Shrine, gold and vivid colours are often used in the shrine design.

11One big advantage of visiting Taiyuinbyo Shrine was its minimal number of visitors.  Unlike the super crowded Toshogu Shrine, we pretty much had Taiyuinbyo all by ourselves during most of our visit.

12Without the new golden and colourful paints, the screens at Taiyuinbyo Shrine looked even more natural than the ones at Toshogu Shrine.

13The colour gold can be found on a number of shrine facades.

14The final resting place of Tokugawa Iemitsu (徳川家光) looks quite modest compared to his grandfather’s mausoleum.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe complex was quite empty and the sky seemed about to rain.  We followed the visitor path and walked around the shrine one last time.

16The bronze lanterns in front of Yasha-mon (夜叉門) appeared like chess on the board.

17We had the shrine pretty much all by ourselves.

18At last, we returned to Niomon (仁王門), where two fierce Niō (仁王) guard the entire shrine complex.


TOKYO NATIONAL MUSEUM (東京国立博物館), Ueno Park (上野公園), Tokyo, Japan

After the magnificent lunch bento at Innsyoutei, we followed the main path further into Ueno Park to reach the museum clusters.  Here one can find the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, National Museum of Nature and Science, National Museum of Wester Art, as well as the largest of them all, the Tokyo National Museum.  Established in 1872, the Tokyo National Museum (東京国立博物館) is the oldest and largest Japanese museum.  We didn’t plan to see everything.  We were a little tired from the flight, so we took it easy to explore the museum complex.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Tokyo National Museum is consisted of several buildings: Honkan, Toyokan, Heiseikan, Hyokeikan, etc.  We started with Honkan, the main museum hall.  This present Honkan was designed by Watanabe Jin. The building was completed in 1938 to replace its predecessor designed by British architect Josiah Conder.  The former building was severely damaged in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923.

02There are two main levels in the Honkan.  We walked up the grand staircase to the upper level to begin our visit.

03Beautiful amours of samurai and shogunate were some of the most impressive artefacts in the museum.

04The “Fujin and Raijin”or the Wind and Thunder God by Ogata Korin reminded us our visit to Kyoto’s Kenninji Temple (建仁寺), the original location of the screen.  At Kenninji, we saw a replica of the famous screen.

05The Yaksha Generals (12 Heavenly Generals) is one of the most impressive display in the historical sculpture collection.

06Architectural drawings by British architects from the 19th century reveal the popularity of Western culture in Japan during the Meiji Period.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHistorical photograph of a Japanese samurai taken in 1862.

08At Honkan, there is a room opens to the garden behind the museum.  The room is decorated with exquisite mosaic and plastered motifs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA traditional telephone matches well with the historical decor.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA garden of traditional pavilion and reflective pool provided some fresh air during our museum visit.  Unfortunately the pavilion was inaccessible from the museum.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAApart from sculptures, paintings and photographs, historical textiles and garments also provided us a glimpse of the old Japan.

12The museum shop at Honkan is beautiful designed.  A gentle passageway ramps up to the upper mezzanine.  Along the ramp stands a low wall of book display.

13After Honkan, we walked to the adjacent Toyokan Building.  Toyokan houses a few levels of artifacts and artworks from Asia and the Middle East.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Chinese and Korean exhibits reveal the close linkage between the cultures of the Far East.

15The Toyokan also contains some interesting pieces from Egypt and the Near East.  After visiting Honkan and Toyokan, we had a little more understanding on the heritage of Japan, and felt it was time to check out the other museums in Ueno Park.  So we exited the Tokyo National Museum, passed by a gigantic model of a blue whale in front of the National Museum of Nature and Science and headed towards the National Museum of Western Art.