Visit the "Sleeping Cat" in Nikko Toshogu - Waku Waku

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Visit the "Sleeping Cat" in Nikko Toshogu

Nikko Toshogu Shrine is in Nikko, Tochigi prefecture. With just a 2-hour trip from Tokyo, you can see firsthand one of the treasures of Japanese culture

Cá Chuối

Cá Chuối

Published on 11 Sep 2021, 12:00

Nikko Toshogu is known as one of the most magnificent and grand shrine in the whole nation

The shrine was built in 1617, dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu, the Shogun who unified the nation and founded the Tokugawa Shogunate in the Edo era (1603-1867) - ancient Japan's most peaceful and prosperous era.

With thousands of grand sculptures demonstrating philosophy, life moral lessons, etc. the shrine was acknowledged as a UNESCO World Heritage in 1999.

Visit Nikko Toshogu to see famous sculpting arts

Nikko Toshogu is widely known for its thousands of varied, meticulous wooden and stone sculptures.

The "Sleeping Cat"

Hundreds of craftsmen had worked feverishly in nearly two years to build this shrine. Within these masterpieces, the most outstanding would be the "Sleeping Cat".

The famed
The famed "sleeping cat" through the lens of my camera

The "Sleeping Cat" was sculpted by Hidari Jingoro, a brilliant sculptor in the Edo era. He lost his right arm after an unfortunate accident, and since then had sculpted with just one arm. The "Sleeping Cat" was made during this time.

It is said that thanks to the "Sleeping Cat" , there is no mouse to be seen in the shrine

We all know that the Nikko Toshogu was built when Japan was entering the era of peace and prosperity after years of prolonged war. The image of a cat sleeping in peace, surrounded by sparrows, is considered to be symbolizing the citizens' hope for a peaceful life during that time.

The uniqueness of this artwork does not just end there. Looking from the side, the sleeping cat seems to be ready to pounce and catch its prey. It is a wake-up call from the ancestors to future generations. No matter how peaceful it is, never be careless, since war may be lying in wait and can strike at any time. It is also said that thanks to the "Sleeping Cat", there is no mouse to be seen within the shrine.

"Three wise monkeys"

Visitors also usually come here to see another artwork called the "Three wise monkeys".

One of the eight stages of the
One of the eight stages of the "Three wise monkeys"

This is one of the carvings made on a horse stable, depicting the eight stages in a human's life cycle. Among them, the most famous would be the "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" carving, illustrating the Buddhism life philosophy.

Witness firsthand the archery skills of the Samurai at Nikko Toshogu

Every year in May, there will be festivals organized to honor Japan's great Samurais. The most famous among them would be the "Horseback archery festival" where you can see archers wearing ancient Samurai costumes, showing their archery skills on horseback and displaying the bravery of ancient warriors marching to war.

Opening time (Stop receiving visitors 30 minutes before closing time)

  • From 1/4 to 31/10: 9 AM ~5 PM
  • From 1/11 to 31/3: 9 AM ~4 PM

Ticket price

  • Adults and high-school students: 1.300JPY/person
  • Elementary and middle-school students: 450JPY/person
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Conclusion

When coming across Nikko Toshogu's "Sleeping Cat" in a Japanese textbook, I was so impressed and was determined to see it for myself one day. And I was able to accomplish that. What about you? Why not pick up your stuff and go immerse yourself in this gorgeous shrine full of historical grandeur?

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