Rinnou-ji is a complex of 15 Buddhist temple buildings in the city of Nikkou, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. The site was established in the year 766 by the Buddhist monk, Shoudou. Due to its geographic isolation, deep in the mountains of Japan, the site soon attracted other Buddhist monks in search of solitude. Among the most famous buildings is the Sanbutsudou or Three Buddha Hall. This building features gold-leafed statues of Amida, Kannon with a thousand arms (Senju-Kannon) and Kannon with a horse's head (Batou-Kannon). Another building, near the mausoleum, houses an unusual statue of Amida riding a large crane, which is an iconography rarely found in Japan.
Shoudou Shounin, a Buddhist monk, is the founder of the temples of Nikkou. Legend has it that Shounin was unable to cross the raging Daiya river in Nikkou. So Shounin 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 Shinkyou (snake) bridge. Shinkyou bridge over the Daiya River in Nikkou
Shuodou Shounin crossed the Daiya river in 766. He founded the Shihon-ryu-ji Temple (the former name of Rinnou-ji Temple). Later he exoplored the summit of the sacred Mount Nantai above Nikkou and Lake Chuuzenji. Shounin founded Chuuzenji Temple in 782.
Shoudou Shounin passed away in the year 817 and was buried in Kaizan-dou Temple.