Sights to See

Kunozan Toshogu Shrine in Shizuoka prefecture is dedicated to shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. The shrine is the first of the “toshogu” shrines in Japan, which all revere Ieyasu.

Inside the Kunozan Toshogu grounds, you can find the prayer hall that was designated as a national treasure, and a museum containing artifacts from the days of Ieyasu’s rule.

The History of Kunozan

Here is the history of Kunozan Toshogu before, during and after Tokugawa Ieyasu's rule.

Pre-Ieyasu (538 – 1333)

Kunozan was originally built as a temple around the 7th century by Kuno Tadahito, and a Kannon Bodhisattva statue was placed.

The temple was a popular training spot for priests, and in the early 1000s around 1,500 priests are have said to visited the temple. However, in 1225, the temple burned down in a tragic fire.

Early Edo Period (1603~)

In the early 1500s, the ruler of the area, Takeda Shingen, realized that the Kunozan area was geographically fit to build a castle on. He proceeded to build Kuno Castle on top of the hill.

After the fall of Takeda’s rule, the land of the area went under the hands of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Ieyasu too treasured the land of the Kunozan area.

Post-Ieyasu (1616~)

After Ieyasu’s death in 1616, he was buried in Kunozan. Under the order of Tokugawa Hidetada, the second shogun, Kunozan Toshogu Shrine was built on the hill.

In his will, Ieyasu mentioned that he wanted to be enshrined in the Nikko area (present day Tochigi prefecture) as well, so he could look over his descendants from above. That is where Nikko Toshogu Shrine was built.

Sights to See

Here are the main sights at Kunozan Toshogu.

1159 Steps to the Front Approach

In order to get to Kunozan Toshogu, visitors must either climb up 1159 steps or take the ropeway from Nihondaira. Until the opening of the ropeway in 1957, all visitors had no choice but to go up the steps.

The 1159 steps to the shrine

The 1159 steps come with 17 turns, and takes about 30 minutes to get to the shrine. Take a break now and then, and take some time to admire the view of the Suruga Bay.

Romon Gate

Romon Gate

After passing by the shrine office, you will see a big, vermillion gate. This is the Romon Gate. Its sign on the second floor and the tapir carved on the center are its representative characteristics.

The sign on the second floor

Shaden (Prayer Hall)

Prayer hall

Kunozan Toshogu’s prayer hall was completed in 1617 to enshrine Tokugawa Ieyasu. The architecture of the hall was advanced for their time, and became the standard model for all other Toshogu shrines to be built throughout Japan.

The hall is designated as a national treasure as a representative work of architecture from the early Edo period.

“Gongen-zukuri” Style Building

The style of the building is called “gongen-zukuri” (権現作り), and is characterized by the low corridor between the prayer hall and the main hall (honden). This was the first building to be created in this style, and influenced other Toshogu shrine’s architectures.

Tamagaki (玉垣)

The decorations on the tamagaki

The “tamagaki” is the fence around the prayer hall. You can find many carvings throughout the wall. Many of the carvings are of birds, which Tokugawa used to symbolize peace.


The path to the mausoleum

Go further past the main hall to reach Tokugawa Ieyasu’s mausoleum. From the mausoleum gate to the mausoleum itself is a 40-step stone staircase. On the sides of the steps are stone lanterns dedicated by Ieyasu’s warriors.

The mausoleum

This is where Tokugawa Ieyasu is enshrined. The stone-structure mausoleum measures 5.5 meters tall and 8 meters long.

Kunozan Toshogu Shrine Museum

Kunozan Toshogu Shrine Museum

At the Kunozan Toshogu Shrine Museum, there are over 2,000 artifacts related to the Tokugawa family. A few times a year the exhibits go through a change.

* Photography is not allowed inside the museum.

The “Western Clock”: A Gift from Spanish Royalty

One of the more rare items in the museum is the “western clock”. In 1606, a ship from Spain drifted onto Japan’s coast. As a gift of appreciation, King Phillip III of Spain sent a western-style clock to Japan.

This is the oldest spring watch to exist in Japan, and is designated as an important national cultural property.


Here are some of the events at Kunozan Toshogu.

Goreisai Festival – 御例祭 (Apr.)

At Kunozan Toshogu, there are 60 events annually celebrating the Tokugawa family. The most important one out of the 60 is the Goreisai Festival.
It is held on the day of Ieyasu’s death, April 17, and several rituals to celebrate Ieyasu are held on this day. The festival also aims to celebrate and pray for world peace.


Nearest station: Kunozan Toshogu Kaidan-shita (Bus Stop) or Kunozan (Ropeway)

From Tokyo Station (Ropeway)

【Tokyo Sta.】Tokaido Shinkansen / for Nagoya
→【Shizuoka Sta.】Shizutetsu Just Line Bus / for Nihondaira Ropeway
→【Nihondaira Ropeway Bus Stop】Nihondaira Ropeway / for Nihondaira

From Shizuoka Station (Bus)

【Shizuoka Sta.】Free Shuttle / for Kunozan Toshogu Kaidan-shita
→【Kunozan Toshogu Kaidan-shita Bus Stop】

From Mt. Fuji Shizuoka Airport (Bus)

【Mt. Fuji Shizuoka Airport】Airport Bus / for Shizuoka Sta.
→【Shizuoka Sta.】Free Shuttle / for Kunozan Toshogu Kaidan-shita
→【Kunozan Toshogu Kaidan-shita Bus Stop】

Take the Ropeway for the View!

The ropeway up to Kunozan Toshogu is a short 5-minute ride, but is packed with a beautiful view of Suruga Bay. In the autumn, the fall foliage on the mountain is breathtaking. Take the ropeway to enjoy Shizuoka’s beautiful scenery.


390 Negoya, Suruga-ku, Shizuoka-shi, Shizuoka
Apr. to Sept.: 9:00a.m. - 5:00p.m.
Oct. to Mar.: 9:00a.m. - 4:00p.m.
Open year-round
General: ¥800
Children: ¥300
*For access into the shrine and museum
Audio guide: ¥500
Available in Japanese, English and Chinese

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