Nikko was our only day trip outside of Tokyo the entire two weeks. Just too much to see in that city to spend much time elsewhere.
Nikko is famous for Toshogu shrine where Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Tokugawa shogun, is enshrined as protector of his family.
This is the Shinkyô, the sacred bridge, it is used for special events and normally closed to traffic. the regular road is nearby and the highway runs alongside the river the bridges cross. The bridge is painted in red lacquered.
We did not enter the shrine grounds on the main path, rather we spotted some steps going off to one side and decided to first see where they went.
One of the first things we saw was this temizuya where we purified ourselves before going further. What we found was a series of minor shrines and temples as well as old stone walls and a temple preschool.
One building had 12 carvings for each animal of the East Asian zodiac. This money is a good example of the work.
Then we walked to the main shrine area where we purchased tickets for the grounds. The tickets were interesting consisting of a large strip of paper perforated into sections for different parts of the grounds.
This massive complex was built over several years and expanded with thousand of artisans participating in the work. Stone and metal lanterns such as these were probably donated by wealthy daimyo as signs of loyalty. There are even huge and highly ornate European lanterns from the Dutch king.
This is an example of the gilded tile roof on the major buildings.
These monkeys, at the stable for the sacred horses, are but a few of the large number of carvings of monkeys on the building. Monkeys and horses get along quite well and it was not unusual in Japan to keep actual monkeys in stables.
Some of the smaller structures on the way to the main shrine. The larger one in the background is a bellfry donw in a Buddhist style. The smaller one to the right houses a hanging lantern donated by the king of Holland..
More wood carvings, when the major expansion of the original temple took place in the early 17th century it used up half the government’s budget for a year.
The wall with stairs leading to the Yomei-mon Gate, the gate of the main shrine.
The Yomei-mon Gate as seen from inside the shrine grounds. There were large crowds of people who had come on group tours. One was lead by a very dignified man whose comments at the stables had the tourists in stitches.
Offerings to the gods of the shrine often take the form of food and alcohol. Here are casks of whisky from the major distillers of Japan.
On the other side of the gateway were traditional sake offerings.
The dragons around the edge of the Yomei-mon Gate were all very different in design. Only one example of the variety of art here.
Looking back at the complex and Yomei-mon as we leave late in the day, by now the tour buses have gather their riders are are leaving. The torii in the left forground is actually the second one you pass under as you approach the shrine.
As it is getting close to the time the complex closes up for the night we only see the occasional person.
At a temple is this straw hoop. you walk through it in a figure 8 pattern as you enter to ensure good health.
Cindy and I look at something alongside the approach to another temple gate. It is actually getting late and we are urged to enter before they close the gates. Once inside we are told to feel free to look around. By now taking pictures is difficult as it is not only getting dark this temple is in a little valley and heavily shaded.
The last picture of Nikko. The moon rising over the trees and town as we cross the bridge and head back to the train station where we enjoyed a simple bento as we waited for the time to catch the train back to Tokyo.