On the edge of the Kanto plains, Nikko is situated at the foot of the mountains.  Its main attraction to history and architecture buffs is the Toshogu and its surrounding temples and shrines, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Toshogu is where the first Tokugawa Shogun, Ieyasu, is buried and enshrined.  He is the man who united the country after a long period of civil war; ushering a period of peace and strict control.  During the Tokugawa period (1603 - 1868), the Shoguns demanded that the Daimyo (clan leaders) pay for the building of various shrines and public works.  This was not only a way to get those projects done, but a way to deplete the wealth of these leaders thereby weaken their abilities to go against the Shogunate.  Needless to say, no expense was spared on this shrine to the founder.  The red laquered bridge near the entrance to the Toshogu complex is said to be at the same spot where two giant serpents spanned the Daiyagawa gorge to allow the Buddhist priest Shodo Shonin to reach the other side.  He established a center for religious ascetics here in 782, it remains today.  Originally, only the elite of the Shogunate and the Emperor where allow to cross the bridge to the Toshogu, but at the time of the Meiji Restoration (1868) the Shogunate lost its power and the Emperor gained control of the country.  Toshogu became what it is today, a tourist attraction with religious significance.