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Mt. Nikko and the cultural legacy of the Tokugawa Centuries 2004,
April 29 - November 29, Rinnoji Temple Museum

040429_2.jpg Mt. Nikko is among the most important spiritual sites of Japan. It was first developed as such by Buddhist Priest Shodo, who, as legend has it, managed to cross the raging torrent of Oya river with the protection of local gods, and built the Shitoryuji Temple in the mid-8th century.

With such an illustrious history, it was natural that Nikko was made the burial ground of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Shogun and founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, in 1617, a year after his death. Ieyasu was posthumously deified as "Tosho Dai Gongen," or "the Great God that shines from the East," and a temple-shrine complex developed around his burial ground in the following decades. During the Tokugawa era, Nikko served as the spiritual center of Japan and the Shoguns will visit there to pray to the sprit of Ieyasu.

The Shogunate's decision to choose Nikko for this purpose is believed to be based on the thinking of Tenkai, high priest of Tendai Buddhism and advisor to Ieyasu on religious affairs.

In concurrence with the exhibition, the Peacemaker Yaksa, worshipped by Tenkai and the successive Chief Priests of Rinnoji Temple, was put on public view for the first time.