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Nikko 日光

January 20, 2009

My second day trip was north into Tochigi prefecture to visit the shrine/temple complex of Nikko.  Nikko is the resting place of the shogun who began the Tokugawa shogunate, Tokugawa Ieyasu and his grandson Iemitsu.

The main precincts of Nikko are primarily Shinto but Nikko was established in 766 by the construction of Rinno-ji.  The town eventually grew up around the temple grounds.  The main shrine (Toushou-gu) was constructed in 1617 to honour Ieyasu.

Personally, I prefer the grounds around Rinno-ji though partly due to both Ieyasu and Iemitsu being interred in Toushou-gu, it’s by far the more popular for the tourists.  It’s interesting in another way though –  its design and decoration are much more of a Chinese style than any other Shinto shrine in Japan.

The ride to and from was long but nice.  I decided to take the slightly longer but much less expensive option of the rapid (kaisoku) versus the special rapid (tokkyu).  The time added was about 30 minutes there and about an hour return but it was ¼ the price of the tokkyu.  I can live with being on a comfy train for a bit extra to save that amount of cash.  It was also nice to see Mt. Fuji again in its snow-capped glory in the morning and in red-hued silhouette at sunset.

The unthinkable happened while photographing around Rinno-ji in the morning: my Hasselblad jammed!  Thankfully I bring back-up cameras with me but I was not impressed at the time.  At first, I thought maybe it was the weather since it was around zero but I’d used in in minus 10 degree temps in Turkey last year.  It turned out to just need servicing but I wouldn’t find that out until I got back to Hong Kong.

I liked Kamakura better than Nikko particularly if you factor in the amount of effort to get to Nikko.  I’m sure I’ll return in the future.  Being in the mountains, I bet fall with the change in colours would be pretty amazing.





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