Travels to Japan - Nikko, pt 4 - The Five-Story Pagoda
By Ali Canary
March 26, 2017 5:27am CST
Behold the five-story pagoda at the temple complex at Nikko, Japan. Japan co-opted a lot of Chinese culture, including architecture, and this is a good example. Five-story pagodas are pretty special, and they show up in other places, too--we saw one at the temple of Asakusa Cannon, too, as well as a few other places. The number five is one of the numbers that is considered lucky in Japanese culture as well as Chinese, and also figures strongly in Buddhist numerology. The pagoda, which actually is originally a Chinese interpretation of the Indian stupa, is a Buddhist symbol, but it frequently shows up at Shinto shrines, as well. The pagoda at Nikko is, like most of the five-story pagodas at shrines and temples, purely decorative and not for people to live, work or worship inside. Originally pagodas were used as reliquaries (reflecting the stupa's use as a place for the Buddha's ashes to reside), but they fell out of use for that purpose.
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