Statue of Shodo Shonin in Nikko
Shodo Shonin, a Buddhist monk, is the founder of the temples of Nikko. Legend has it that Shonin was unable to cross the raging Daiya river in Nikko. So Shonin prayed to the gods and and gods answered by throwing two snakes across the river. The snakes turned into a bridge, what is now the famous Shinkyo (snake) bridge.
Shinkyo bridge over the Daiya River in Nikko
Shodo Shonin crossed the Daiya river in 766. He founded the Shihon-ryu-ji Temple (the former name of Rinno-ji Temple). Later he exoplored the summit of the sacred Mount Nantai above Nikko and Lake Chuzenji. Shonin founded Chuzenji Temple in 782.
Shodo Shonin passed away in the year 817 and was buried in Kaizan-do Temple.