Nikko Roadtrip

This weekend the traveling extravaganza continued with a visit to Nikko, one of Japan’s major tourist attractions. The site has a long history of religious significance dating back to the 8th century, when it was a famous training center for Buddhist monks. After declining into obscurity for many years, it was chosen to become the location of the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the shogun who unified Japan and whose successors controlled the country for about 250 years. The shrine was built in the 1630s by Ieyasu’s grandson and is the most splendid of all the shrines in Japan – splendid to the point of gaudiness, some say. All the same, it was intended to inspire awe for the wealth and power of the Tokugawa family, and it sure does the trick.

The weekend was a rainy one, which gave the whole experience an atmosphere of mystery and meaning. Six of us (Rosalind, Steph, Grace, Johanna, Simone, and I) set out from Niigata on Saturday morning and arrived in the town of Nikko after about four hours and some very windy mountain roads (when they post signs counting the number of switchbacks, that’s a bad sign). That afternoon largely consisted of shopping, eating, and generally goofiness, in addition to a trip to Yashio-no-yu Onsen (I got a massage – yay!). Sunday we wandered the Nikko shrine complex, which included Shoyoen (a Japanese strolling garden), the Tokugawa Treasure House, Sanbutsudo (Three Buddha Hall), Rinnoji Temple, the Toshogu Shrine (including the tomb of Tokugawa Ieyasu and the “hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil” monkey trio), Yakushido (it has a dragon painted on its ceiling that “roars” if you use the accoustics properly), Futarasan Shrine (built to honor mountain deities), and Taiyuinbo (where Ieyasu’s grandson is enshrined). The place was fraught with history and complexity, some of which I cover in the comments to my full photo set. On the way back, we hit Kegon Falls and stopped shortly to gaze at Lake Chuzenji (where we met a very friendly fisherman). Here are some of the visual highlights (though we couldn’t take pics of some of the best stuff):


Room #3, Daiyagawa Youth Hostel
Originally uploaded by kristi-san.


Shin-kyo Bridge, Nikko
Originally uploaded by kristi-san.


Pathway, Shoyoen, Nikko
Originally uploaded by kristi-san.


Yomei-mon, Toshogu Shrine, Nikko
Originally uploaded by kristi-san.


Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, See No Evil
Originally uploaded by kristi-san.


Kristi, Kegon Falls
Originally uploaded by kristi-san.


Fishermen, Lake Chuzenji
Originally uploaded by kristi-san.

Click here to see my full photo set from Nikko.

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