A Day in Nikko
Temples, Temples, Temples...
I visited Nikko on my last trip to Japan and we tried
to cover the whole town in half a day. I wasn't happy with how
well we saw the sights last time, so this trip I wanted to do
better. Doing better started with setting the alarm for 5am.
I was quite happy with the Turtle in last time we
stayed there so we booked in there again. Our trip from Matsumoto
was much better than our trip to Matsumoto, but we didn't arrive in
Nikko until about 3pm on Saturday, so we walked around Narabijizo that
are close to the Inn and generally got over our travel weariness.
remember the large crowds from my last visit and this being Sunday, I
figured today would be another big crowd day. I set the alarm for
5am (Andrea wasn't too happy about that) and was walking down the road
to the temples to Nikko at 5:30am. The sun wasn't yet up, but
orange light bathed everything. So many photo opportunities.
The temples were empty (and the interiors closed), and I only saw a few
people walking around - a security guard, and two monks, and all of them
smiled when they saw me.
my morning walk, I stopped by the local convenience and picked up
breakfast. Andrea, Mark and David were just getting up so we had
breakfast a prepared for a day of templing.
These two figures are the guardians for Omoté-Mon, one of the
gates to Toshogu Shrine.
Yomei-mon is the gate to the Toshogu shrine, arguably the fanciest
complex at Nikko. The gate was apparently built by 130,000 workers
on an unlimited budget.
Yasha-mon gate is part of the Daiyuin-Byo, built in 1652 as the
mausoleum to Tokugawa Iemitsu.
We had seen
about as much as we could and were definitely getting hungry. There
are a few stalls selling food in the main walk area, but none of it was
quite what we were looking for. Last we visited, we had lunch at
Hippari Dako, a yakitori and noodle shop that is very popular with
foreigners. The place was good so we decided to go back, and we
were definitely satisfied. The restaurant has an all English menu,
several vegetarian choices (yeah!) and really good curry noodles (yeah
Having seen much
of the temple complex and had lunch, we were up for something
different. Our first thought was to catch the bus up to Kegon
falls to see the fall foliage, but we asked at the tourist center and
the wait would be roughly 3 hours. Not so much fun. We
looked at the map for Nikko and a small falls was marked behind the
temple complex - a bit of a walk. Sure!
We were in for a bit of a shock. Japan seems to have a war going
on against nature. As we walked up the road (we didn't see an
unpaved path on our whole trip) we noticed a number of projects going on
- the river (which has a concrete bottom) was being rerouted to reduce
the possibility of flooding.
falls (Shiraito Falls) are next to the stairs up to the Taki-no-o
Shrine. The stairs up are steep and slope is failing (yet another
Japan against nature project under way), but the shrine is lonely and
The shrines themselves are no where near as flashy as the big three
that everyone goes to Nikko to see. These temples were built in
820 AD and are dedicated to goddess of Mt. Nyoho. There was almost
no one up here so we could wander around taking photos without waiting
to get people out of the way.
Besides the usual temple, there are a number of other
sites. One of my favorites was two stone foxes guarding a smaller
shrine. Another high point is the Kodané-Ishi "Child-Seed
Stone" - visiting it apparently increases fertility. Of course we
didn't know that at the time.
Tags: Japan(25), statue(8), temple(7), architectural decoration(6), lantern(4), stream(3)
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > A Second Trip to Japan > Nikko
Last Modified Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 at 00:44:53 Edit
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