Sunday, October 11, 2009

Nikko's Toshogu

Sunday morning, we packed up the gang and headed up the road to Nikko once more to tour the Toshogu. Now, over the years, I'd say Nikko is probably the place I've been to the most, and it turned out to be the place Yoshiko caught my eye so to speak on a day trip up there with her and some other students. We were so lucky to live nearby, it's a gorgeous place to visit. Another reason we're up there a lot is that Yoshiko's parents are from the area, and are very eager to show it off whenever anyone comes visiting. We toured my mother through Nikko when she came down for our wedding, my family when they came in 2007 and now it was my aunt Doris and Andre's turn for the tour. They're lucky enough to be staying nearby, about 10 minutes walk from the World Heritage sites of Nikko.

Nikko is set in a beautiful spot, up in the mountains, with the volcano, Nantai-san, towering over the area at 2484 meters high.

When what we thought would be a short drive from Imaichi turned into a bit of a traffic jam (it is fall leaf viewing season after all, and a long weekend at that), we got creative and forced our way around the worst of it though some tiny residential streets. Near the Shinkyo (sacred bridge), I hopped out to meet Doris and Andre while the rest of the gang went on to find parking. After all the damage I've seen to Japan's rivers, it's refreshing to see some clear blue sparkling water once you get up in the mountains a bit.

From Shinkyo, we made our way up the many steps into the temple/shrine areas where we were to meet the rest of the gang, taking photos along the way of course.

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, the main attraction up here is the Toshogu, shrine and burial place of Ieyasu Tokugawa, the warlord who defeated all others and united Japan under his clan's rule for 300 years, effectively creating a cohesive nation where there was only strife and wars amongst the different lords before. The story goes that Tokugawa asked to be buried in a simple shrine to the North of Edo, his capital (now Tokyo) so that he could forever protect it. One of his descendants decided a while later that he was too important a man to have such a lowly burial place and undertook a massive expansion with thousands upon thousands of artisans, the result of which is the Toshogu.

Much like the head priest of the Toshogu arrives during the thousand warriors parade every year, Keita was carried up the steps in his stroller... but opted for a bit of running around before we got into the Toshogu.

The level of detail present on the buildings and gates still amazes me. These are the carvings that adorn the wall surrounding the main shrine.

It's said that the artist who carved these elephants did so without ever having laid eyes on one.

And here is where the man himself is buried, at the top of a hill, up a series of stairs surrounded by old growth forest... 3rd time I make that climb I believe, must still be in ok shape!

While we toured around with Doris and Andre, poor Yoshiko had to try and keep our little man occupied as the place was packed and bringing him inside the buildings would have been too difficult. Needless to say, by the time we were done, so was he!

We then walked on back down and had some great Chinese food before leaving Doris and Andre at their hotel and heading to the car. Unfortunately, we had some car trouble and ended up having to hang around and wait for the dealership to send a guy over to give us a boost... by the time we got home and had dinner, we were dead and turned in by 8 with a very tired Keita severely feeling the effects of jet lag. He almost slept through the night, so I think we're almost there... just need to get him into a routine. Today was spent doing a bit of shopping and then relaxing at home, company coming for dinner a bit later. Tomorrow we're heading up and up and up into the mountains to lake Chuzenji, and then Doris, Andre and I begin our travels to Matsumoto, Kamikochi, Magome, Tsumago, Nara, and Osaka. I'll then leave them to their own devices while they tour Kyoto, Hiroshima, Hakone and Tokyo.


Blogger Anskov said...

It's nice to see pics of Nikko and the old hoodie! Say hello to the folks there!

12:04 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home