Nikko, north of Tokyo, has long been a spiritual heartland and provides a rich variety of experiences. The first thing that strikes most visitors upon arrival is the setting: amid sumptuous mountain scenery, the town offers eye-catching views in all seasons. The town's deep historical connection with Buddhism has certainly left its mark as the temples and the tombs of prominent Buddhists are ubiquitous. Nikko's temples and shrines are characterised by simplicity and austerity, highlighting their function as places of worship. Visit the Toshogu shrine, the mausoleum of Tokugawa Leyasu who was the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate government. Built in 1627 it was originally a simple monument, but in 1651 the complex was renovated by the third Shogun, Lemitsu, and turned into the magnificent building it is today. Elaborately decorated with wood carvings and large amounts of gold leaf, the 50 huge stone lanterns erected by the Tokugawa family and various 'daimyo' (feudal lords) are particularly eye-catching. The Tamozawa Imperial Villa Memorial Park was built in 1898-99, using parts of the Akasaka detached palace that originally stood in Tokyo. The structure was Emperor Taisho's summer residence until 1925 and seamlessly blends Edo and Meiji period architecture throughout its 106 rooms.