Rinnoji Temple is a generic name of 15 subordinate temples. History
of Rinnoji Temple goes back to 766. Priest Shoto built Shihonryuji
Temple near Shinkyo Sacred Bridge in that year. Nikko became popular
place for mountainous worship and many ascetics visited there. Imperial
court gave a name of Manganji Temple in 810. Also, Saint Ennin introduced
Tendai sect in Nikko later. In Kamakura period, Benkaku established
Koumyouin House and designated it as a main house of Nikko. Also,
successor was invited from the Imperial family. That became a tradition.
However, territory of Nikko was confiscated by Hideyoshi Toyotomi
in the warring states period because Nikko was on the opposite side
of Hideyoshi. Popularity of Nikko declined temporary.
Bishop Tenkai revived Nikko in
1613 when he became a leader of Tendai sect in Nikko. He built Toshogu
Shrine, and Nikko became more popular than ever before. In 1655,
the successor Shuchouhoushinno renamed himself as Rinnoji-no-miya.
The name of Rinnoji Temple was derived from the former successor.
Rinnoji Temple was driven into the corner in Meiji period.
Meiji government announced the law, which separates Buddhist temple
and Shinto shrine. However, there was no border between Buddhistm
and Shintoism. Also, successor term of Rinnoji was abolished in
1869, and Rinnoji was named Manganji again. More than 109 temples
were merged to Manganji Temple by the law.
However, 15 temples of Nikko
overcame the hardship and revived in 1882. Rinnoji Temple and its
successor term were revived in the next year. Visitors will not
be able to see all of historical aspects of Rinnoji Temple in a
day because there are so many.