Hi everybody! Last week Monday was a holiday, so our lovely friend Yusuke drove us and a couple others up to Nikko. Nikko is about two hours north of Tokyo, nestled up in the mountains of Tochigi Prefecture. It’s famous for the ornate Toshogu Shrine, the resting place of the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate, Tokugawa Ieyasu. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
I always forget how small Japan is—by train, Nikko is a little over two hours away, but by car it’s only an hour’s drive! And what a beautiful drive it is:
Since it was a holiday, everyone and their mom decided it was a good day to go to Nikko. The road to the city of Nikko was clear, but once we got to the road up to Tokugawa Shrine, we had to wait in the car for about an hour!
When we arrived at last, we made our way to the torii gate at the entrance. Before we went through, we were stopped by a sound—Japanese conch shells, called horagai. A whole procession of men and women walked up the road and past us in a line, blowing their horns and chanting. I’ve no idea what it was for, and they quickly disappeared after they passed!
There are far too many buildings with different purposes and so much history that I don’t even know where to start! You can find the finer details on all the buildings on the Toshogu website here.
On nearly every building you can find the triple hollyhock Tokugawa crest, from the very obvious placement on the torii gates to the more subtle roof-linings:
Probably the most famous thing in Nikko are the eight panels of monkeys found along the Shinkyusha Stables. Have you ever heard of see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil?
Though, Paul and I were particularly fond of these faces:
We climbed even more stairs through the even more ornate Yomeimon Gate:
From there we climbed a few flights of steep steps to reach the tomb of Tokugawa Ieyasu!
You can buy charms up there, as well as fortunes! I got an unfortunate fortune saying that I didn’t have money to do the things I want to do, so I tied it off to get rid of it! (Thanks for the picture, Jansen!)
And on our way down we were treated to the beautiful sight of the shrine’s roofs:
We ended the day by driving up to Yumoto Onsen (hot springs) for a 1,000円 (around $10) soak. Obviously I have no pictures of the onsen, but I have some pictures of the gorgeous drive up there:
And right before we left the onsen, Katie tried to play kendama for the first time – the goal is to toss the ball up and catch it in the shallow dip – and she did it! Literally on her first try! (Thanks for the picture, Jansen!)
And that was our trip! I definitely recommend traveling to Nikko if you can manage it – it makes for a great day trip from Tokyo!
Until next time – またね！