On 4th January hubby and I visited Kunozan Toshogu Shrine in Shizuoka City of Shizuoka prefecture. The shrine is located near the top of Mount Kuno in Suruga Ward of the city. I have written about the history of the shrine in the previous post but I will rewrite that portion of the post here again. Kunozan Toshogu is a Shinto shrine dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu who was the first Shogun of Tokugawa Shogunate. The shrine was the original burial place of Ieyasu. Mount Kuno was originally the site of a Buddhist temple named Kunoji, which dated to at least the early Nara period. In 1568, feudal warlord Takeda Shingen moved the temple to a nearby place that is now called Shimizu-ku, and built a castle on Mount Kuno. In 1582, Takeda clan was defeated by Tokugawa Ieyasu and Suruga province along with Kuno Castle came under the control of Tokugawa clan. Ieyasu formed Edo Government in 1603 and then retired to a nearby Sunpu Castle in 1607. However, he considered Kuno Castle to be important and so he continued to maintain the castle. He wished to be buried at the top of Mount Kuno, and therefore as per his wishes he was buried at the mountaintop after his death in 1616. In 1617, Tokugawa Hidetada, second Shogun and son of Ieyasu, built Kunozan Toshogu Shrine as a memorial shrine for Ieyasu at the site of Kuno Castle. Later on, Tokugawa Iemitsu, third Shogun and grandson of Ieyasu, erected a mausoleum at the burial site of Ieyasu that is located further up Mount Kuno in the shrine premises. At the first anniversary of Ieyasu’s death, his grave was relocated to Nikko (in present day Tochigi prefecture) where a shrine with the same name as Toshogu was built and Ieyasu was deified by Iemistu. However a portion of Ieyasu’s deified spirit is said to still reside on Mount Kuno.
We climbed 1159 stone steps up the walkway from the foot of Mount Kuno to the top and reached Kunozan Toshogu Shrine. I have written in details about the shrine in the previous post. In this post, I will write about the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu that is located deeper in the woods further up Mount Kuno in the shrine premises. After enjoying viewing various buildings in the sacred premises of the shrine, we walked along a pathway towards the right side of Shaden Main Building and saw a beautiful gate named Byomon located northwest of Honden Main Hall. It is a gorgeous red colored gate with an arched Chinese style roof with exquisite gold accents and painted decorations. This gate is located adjacent to the extravagantly decorated western wall of Honden Hall, and leads to Tokugawa Ieyasu’s mausoleum. The gate is designated as an important cultural property.
I am standing on the walkway leading to Byomon Gate. Byomon Gate (left side) and the western wall of Honden Hall (right side) are partially seen in the photo.
Gold accents and painted decorations on the roof and ceiling of the gate
We passed through Byomon Gate and climbed up the stone steps along the walkway that leads to the mausoleum. We noted that in some places, the walkway has flat paved path and no stone steps. This flat path portion has beautiful stone lanterns on either side of the walkway, which are dedicated to the warlords who served Tokugawa Ieyasu. We climbed up the stone steps or walked along the flat portion of the walkway and enjoyed the serene beauty of the forest all around us. After about ten minutes of walking, we reached a stone Torii Gate which marks the entrance to the mausoleum area.
Way to the mausoleum and the stone Torii Gate
After passing through the stone Torii Gate, we were at the mausoleum area. The mausoleum called Shinbyo is located at the highest point of Mount Kuno. As per Tokugawa Ieyasu’s wish, after his death on 1st June 1616, he was buried here at the top of Mount Kuno. Initially a miniature shrine called Hokora was built at the burial site and dedicated to Ieyasu. Afterwards Tokugawa Iemitsu, third Shogun and grandson of Ieyasu, built this mausoleum. As per the dying instructions of Ieyasu, the mausoleum is built facing westward towards Okazaki Castle in Aichi prefecture where he was born. At the first anniversary of Ieyasu’s death, his grave was relocated to Nikko. However a portion of his deified spirit is said to still reside on Mount Kuno. The mausoleum is a type of jeweled stone pagoda called Hoto consisting of a foundation stone, a cylindrical body, a four-sided pyramid roof, and a finial. The mausoleum is 5.5 meters in height and has a circumference of 8 meters. It is designated as an important cultural property. Right after passing through the Torii Gate, we saw two huge stone lanterns on either side of the walkway in the mausoleum premises. In addition, we also saw a couple of stone lanterns and a copper lantern located in front of the mausoleum. We walked around the mausoleum and viewed its shape and architectural design in details. We noted that in contrast to the exuberance of other buildings of the shrine, the mausoleum is relatively simple and austere. We took several photos of the mausoleum from various positions and angles.
A huge stone lantern located on the left side of the walkway leading to the mausoleum. The mausoleum is partly seen in the background on the right side of the photo.
I am standing next to a stone lantern located on the right side of the walkway
The mausoleum along with a stone lantern and a copper lantern in front of it
Copper lantern in front of the mausoleum
Front view of the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu and a stone lantern
The mausoleum faces westward and lies in an enclosed area
Enlarged front view of the mausoleum as viewed from the west
Roof and finial of the mausoleum
Crest of Tokugawa clan on the mausoleum
The mausoleum as viewed from the south
The mausoleum enclosed by a stone fence as viewed from the southeast
Back view of the mausoleum as viewed from the east
While walking around the mausoleum, we saw the tomb of the favorite horse of Tokugawa Ieyasu located at the backside of the mausoleum on the southeast corner of the premises. We loved the serene and calm atmosphere of the mountaintop and walked in the mausoleum area for some time. While standing at the northwest area, we noted that many people were making votive offering by trying to push and stick coins into the trunk of a huge cedar tree located at the southern area of the premises. The tree is more than 350 years old and is worshiped as a ‘money tree’. This tree called ‘Kane no Naruki’ is very popular among the visitors because of this unique form of making a wish.
Tomb of the favorite horse of Tokugawa Ieyasu
Mausoleum area as viewed from the northwest
Kane no Naruki tree standing straight and tall (indicated by red arrows)
Afterwards we left the mausoleum area and the shrine premises, and walked down Mount Kuno. After about an hour, we reached back to the base of the mountain. At the base area, there are many shops that sell shrine related souvenirs and food items. In addition, all the shops specialize in strawberry products. This is because Suruga Ward and the surrounding area of Mount Kuno are famous for growing world-class strawberries. We bought a few souvenirs, had lunch at a restaurant, and had strawberry flavored delicious softcream.
Strawberry flavored softcream
Hubby having softcream
At about 3.30 pm, we left Mount Kuno area and drove towards Utsunomiya City in Tochigi prefecture. On our way, we got beautiful stunning views of Mount Fuji. We also saw many fresh green-tea plantations on the surrounding hills in Shizuoka prefecture. Shizuoka prefecture is the largest tea growing region of Japan.
Another view of Mount Fuji
A hill in Shizuoka City
Tea plantation on the hill
That night we stayed at a hotel in Utsunomiya City. On 5th January, we left the hotel early in the morning and drove back to our home in Akita prefecture. We had a fun filled New Year holidays.