Travels to Japan - Nikko, pt 4 - The Five-Story Pagoda

My own photo, copyright Ali Canary
@AliCanary (1780)
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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8 responses
@sol_cee (14386)
• Japan
26 Mar 17
Considering the many earthquakes in Japan, it is astonishing to see these pagodas many years after they were constructed.
4 people like this
• Philippines
26 Mar 17
now that you mention it, yeah.
3 people like this
@AliCanary (1780)
29 Mar 17
Yes, isn't it? I guess since they are made of wood, they absorb shock better than concrete buildings which would crumble.
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@sol_cee (14386)
• Japan
29 Mar 17
@AliCanary still a mystery to me. Lol
1 person likes this
@JudyEv (121214)
• Bunbury, Australia
26 Mar 17
Thanks for this information. Have you been away or busy? I don't recall seeing you around for a while. Hope you're well anyway. :)
1 person likes this
@AliCanary (1780)
10 Apr 17
I am well, and thank you for asking. I don't come around on a real regular basis, but I do drop in when I have time!
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@JudyEv (121214)
• Bunbury, Australia
10 Apr 17
@AliCanary Nice to see you anyway. :)
1 person likes this
@AliCanary (1780)
12 Apr 17
@JudyEv - Thank you, sweetie! :)
1 person likes this
• United States
30 May 17
Only for decoration entirely..interesting to know. Also interesting the cross cultural reference.
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@AliCanary (1780)
31 May 17
Japan has always had a tendency to assimilate things from other cultures, tweaking them as needed.
1 person likes this
• United States
31 May 17
@AliCanary I am learning that too through reading your sharing here Ali.
1 person likes this
@responsiveme (14654)
• India
8 May 17
It's the roof that has 5 levels or can you go right up to the top?
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@AliCanary (1780)
14 May 17
From what I understand, it's just decorative--no way to go to the top. It's really kind of like a big sculpture, with only minimal functiion other than being beautiful to look at.
1 person likes this
• India
15 May 17
@AliCanary Ok, being beautiful is a function in it self.
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@CRK109 (14465)
• United States
26 Mar 17
Architecture is a huge reason why I'd love to visit Japan one day. Love the look of this pagoda!
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@AliCanary (1780)
10 Apr 17
My favorite city for architecture is Kyoto--you get all the traditional stuff, the modern stuff, and also a lot of creative and weird stuff!
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@CRK109 (14465)
• United States
10 Apr 17
@AliCanary That really sounds wonderful!
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@Corbin5 (103085)
• United States
26 Mar 17
That is a beautiful pagoda. Quite an interesting sight to see.
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@AliCanary (1780)
29 Mar 17
The amount of architectural detail in those things is absolutely stunning. Goodness only knows how long it took them to construct it!
1 person likes this
@hereandthere (29745)
• Philippines
26 Mar 17
i knew that five was lucky in chinese, but didn't know it had the same significance in japan and buddhism. i also thought the pagoda was for worship, so i learned a lot from this post.
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@AliCanary (1780)
10 Apr 17
It's funny to think that a building that big would be (almost) purely decorative, but there you are. I guess it's really kind of like a statue!
1 person likes this
@TRBRocks420 (75534)
• Banks, Oregon
26 Mar 17
That is one awesome looking temple there. Thanks for sharing.
1 person likes this
@AliCanary (1780)
26 Mar 17
Thanks for coming to visit!