Salvador: The Futurusan Chugushi Shrine in Nikko

 A few steps up the mountain to reach the shrine entrance. (Photo by Jinggoy I. Salvador)
A few steps up the mountain to reach the shrine entrance. (Photo by Jinggoy I. Salvador)

LEGEND has it that a god helped the priest Shodo cross a raging river by creating a bridge with two serpents, thus allowing the priest and his followers to successfully fulfill their task — to scale Mount Nantai to pray for the nation’s prosperity in the end of the Nara Era.

Shodo Shonin, who introduced Buddhism to Nikko, is also the founder of Nikko Futurasan Shrine. It is a huge shrine covering 3,400 hectares and dedicated to the deities of the three sacred mountains - Mount Nantai, the most prominent, and Mount Nyoho and Mount Taro. The Japanese believes that holy existence resides in these mountains. Shrines were built in the area so the worshippers can be close to the gods when praying.

The 784-built shrine of Chugushi (Intermediate Shrine) is one of three shrine buildings related to and called Futarasan Shrine in Nikko. Honsha and Okumiya are the other two. This shrine is located at the foot of Mount Nantai, along the picturesque shoreline of Chuzenji-ko. It stands between the Futurasan Jinja Shrine (Main Shrine) and the Okumiya (Inner Shrine).

Why was this shrine built? Since climbing Mount Nantai was difficult, Shodo Shonin built the Chugu-shi Shrine for the people who couldn’t scale the slope and worship at Okumiya, the shrine at the mountaintop.

In this shrine is a yellow bell. It is said to answer the prayers of those who seek a good match when tolled. No restrictions here, anyone can ring it. Good luck!?

How to get there:

From the JR or Tobu Nikko Station, take the Tobu bus to the direction of Yumoto Onsen. Get off at the Futarasan Jinja Mae bus stop.

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