Temples, Temples, Temples.
After acclimating to Tokyo for a few days, it was time to get on with the
rest of Japan. Nikko was our first stop - it's about an hour and half
North West of Tokyo. Mark (who had lived in Japan for a year) had highly
recommended Nikko so we made it first on our list of destinations. The
first challenge was getting there:
Having figured out Tokyo's subway, boarding a local train from a department
store wasn't so hard. Once we arrived we checked into our Hotel - the
Turtle Inn Nikko. We had booked it through the Japanese Inn Group
in Tokyo - a smart move. The people in Tokyo call ahead and book you
the rooms and they speak both Japanese and English so they can clear up any
problems. The hotel (which is written up in many guide books) was our
first authentic stay.
The Hot springs fed bed was great after our day of walking - but I'm getting
ahead of myself. We needed lunch. Badly. The guide book
suggested a small yakitori bar close to the temple entrance. Again
the book hit the mark:
Cheap (for Japanese standards), this small place has three tables and wonderful
owner/cook/waitress that speaks a little English and is praised in all the
guide books. She was interested to hear what our guide books said about
her place - and after making and bringing us lunch, she stopped and talked
with us for a while. After lunch, it was on to the temples.
Nikko has lots of temples and a few fares. We picked up the "two-shrines-one-temple"
ticket for ¥900 and proceeded to see everything we could. We started
with the Shoyo-en Garden (and the treasure house - like much of Nikko - no
And then we went into the larger temple complex. My favorite was
Tosho-gu Shrine - it has a small courtyard and a number of practical buildings
But Tosho-gu is a small part of the larger set of temples. The temples
themselves have wonderful details and highlights - there is always something
catching your eye.
One of my favorite parts of the temples was the guards and mystical elements.
This guy, who at first I mistook for a high school math teacher, is the god
of thunder and protects one of the gates to the temples.
The second favorite part of the experience was the land itself - there
are hundreds of cedar trees on the hills and it reminded me of home.
Many of the temples are built on the sides of hills or in small valleys, leading
to wonderful views.
The temples closed way too early - 5:30. We walked back to our hotel
and then took a stroll down a path just up the road. Similar to Tokyo,
we found these statues outfit in red. I'd love to know the stories
behind some of these statues.
So after a very pleasant evening (and an authentic Japanese dinner) we
got up the next morning and took the Shinkansen north toward Joanne and
Aizu. This was our first exposure to shinkansen, and we were very impressed.
The stations are very clean and orderly (even if we didn't understand entirely
what was going on). The trails run frequently and we had no problems
getting tickets to our destination.
We took the Shinkansen to Aizu-Wakamatsu
spend the next 2 days.
Tags: Japan(17), temple(4), train station(3), hotel(3), garden(3), statue(3)
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > A Trip to Japan > Nikko
The statues with the red bibs are Jizo's. You can read about them on Wikipedia which will tell you a bit about their meanings. I'm sure you found them all over Japan.
Monday, September 24th, 2007 at 16:12:34
Hello, just a note on the guys in red, my sister lives in Tokyo, and has visited Nikko many times.
She took us there when we went to visit her, and she says they are Bahko Jizo (I'm not 100% sure of the spelling). And widows and women who have lost their children dress them up in red as an offering so that they will watch over their loved ones in the afterworld. I'm not sure if its true, but it sounds nice doesn't it?
Tuesday, March 25th, 2008 at 17:37:16
Last Modified Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 at 00:35:28 Edit
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