Futarasan jinja (二荒山神社) is a Shinto shrine in the city of Nikkō, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. It is also known as Nikkō Futarasan Shrine, to distinguish it from the shrine in nearby Utsunomiya. Futarasan enshrines three deities: Ōkuninushi, Tagorihime, and Ajisukitakahikone. It is located between Nikkō Tōshō-gū and the Taiyū-in Mausoleum. Many visitors go to all three, as well as to Rinnō-ji.
Together with Nikkō Tōshō-gū and Rinnō-ji, it forms the Shrines and Temples of Nikkō UNESCO World Heritage Site. The shrine possesses two swords that are National treasures of Japan. Additionally, dozens of buildings and cultural artifacts are listed as Important Cultural Assets.
The Sacred Bridge (神橋, shinkyō) crossing the Daiya River belongs to the Futarasan Shrine. This beautiful vermilion lacquered structure is known as one of the three most beautiful bridges in Japan and is a perfect gateway for Nikko. The bridge was registered as a World Heritage in December 1999. Shinkyo measures 28 meters long, 7.4 meters wide, and stands 10.6 meters above the Daiya River.
According to legend, a priest named Shōdō and his followers climbed Mt. Nantai in the year 766 to pray for national prosperity. However, they could not cross the fast flowing Daiya River. Shōdō prayed and a 10 foot tall god named Jinja-Daiou appeared with two snakes twisted around his right arm. Jinja-Daiou released the blue and red snakes and they transformed themselves into a rainbow-like bridge covered with sedge, which Shōdō and his followers could use to cross the river. That is why this bridge is sometimes called Yamasugeno-jabashi, which means the "Snake Bridge of Sedge".
The Shinkyo has been rebuilt many times but has followed the same design pattern since 1636, when it could be used only by messengers of the Imperial court. It has been opened to the general public since 1973.(Wikipedia)