The origin of Shinkyo Bridge
The discovery of Nikko happened in the 8th century during the Nara Era. When Mt. Nikko was first explored, steep cliffs and the rough waters of the Daiya River were major obstacles. The bridge’s legend began when the monk Shodo Shoin prayed to the gods there and the god Jinja-Daiou appeared, with two snakes transforming into a bridge which he could cross. Only used in special cases for events or when the shogun was passing through, ordinary people traveled over Nikko Bridge downstream. Although Shinkyo Bridge can be traversed for a fee, it is currently closed so crossing over it is impossible. Among the important events is the annual cleaning. Every year in December, Shinto priests in Heian Era kariginu clothing and eboshi headgear along with shrine maidens in white clothing and red skirts use 4m bamboo poles and sweep away a year’s worth of dust as a custom in preparation for the New Year. Approximately 3m poles sweep the dust off the 28m-long bridge so that it is not damaged. By around noon, the brilliance of the vermillion increases and the bridge’s elegant appearance returns.
Autumn colors and illumination
Late October to early November is the best time to see the autumn colors at Shinkyo Bridge. With the blue of the river, the vermilion of the bridge and the gold of the trees, the scene comes to resemble a painting. In particular, the time of the soft light in the morning creates a divine mountain, a landscape that is befitting of Nikko. At night, the area is illuminated. This occurs from late October to early November for a period limited to 3 days. The two shrines and one temple of Tosho-gu, Rinno-ji and Futara-Arayama are lit up along with Shinkyo Bridge. The collaboration between World Heritage Sites and autumn leaves being illuminated takes you into a fantastic world. It is a precious event to be appreciated.