Temples of old Nikko

Nikko Travel Blog

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I leave early from Osaka to catch an early train to Tokyo because I want to go up north of the city to visit a little old city - a sensible thing would be to go to Tokyo today and then see a bit of the city before heading small on to Nikko tomorrow. But I am not much for doing the sensible thing because this is the last day of my rail pass - hence going to Nikko today is free whereas tomorrow will be pretty expensive. Hence I give up on my comfort of travelling short distance and sleeping in.


It takes quite a while to get to Nikko from Osaka so I don’t make it there until well after lunch - but I figure I will still have time to see the main sights around the area - considering the city is not all that big.

At least it is not so big judging to the Lonely Planet. The city is well known for a lot of huge temples concentrated up in the old town. I get from the train station crossing over a bridge which is the river which separates the modern town from the old city. I get over the bridge and walk up the hill to the old temples of Nikko.


I walk up to the main area and get a combination ticket which give access to the main sights of the city. It is an old spiritual center which were found back in the 8th century but got a renaissance when an old shogun was buried in town. Right at the centre is several big temple and shrines but I start out at the museum. The entrance to the museum includes access to a nice little Zen garden it is not really big but it is nice and not a lot of people seem to actually visit the garden contrary to the rest of Nikko.


After heading out of the museum I go to a couple of huge hall - unfortunately photos inside these are not permitted.

Hence when I go in I am unable to actually get any photos of the huge Buddha’s inside the buildings. After I get out of the Rinno-ji I walk on up the hill.

I get into the Tosho-go temple complex and right there is one of those huge five story pagodas which for me is always the building which stand out like the most Japanese of all buildings. But this complex is much much more than the pagoda - actually this is one of those few occasions where the pagoda is just a byproduct of something bigger. The temple is big and outside are some buildings decorated with some very impressive woodcarvings. The wood carvings at this temple are quite possible the best I have seen in Japan - or maybe I am just in a woodcarving kind of mood. No matter what I am quite impressed with the handy work which most have required lots of artisans to construct.


The woodwork alone would be enough reason to actually visit this temple complex but right here it is just a minor attraction. The main attraction is a main hall where you will get a guided tour - in Japanese only - I go in and pretend to listen to the commentary which for some reason I am not to follow completely.

But one part of the tour I do get - the Shinto priest is demonstrating the acoustic of the room. He is clapping two pieces of wood together and at first you hear nothing - then he repeats the process at a special spot. When he claps the wood sticks at that spot they suddenly makes a quite laud sound. I get out of the busy temple and search for my shoes - I still got a bit of a problem with all this taking off your shoes before you can go into any place of some significance. I take a bit of time to wonder around the temple grounds before heading on to the next temple.


I wonder on to another temple complex - actually I am a bit lost by now but I can still get in and have a look around. There is a room inside the centre of the place with lots of decorations at the roof of different animals on a background of a wood covered with gold. I leave the Taiyuin-mausoleum and say good bye to the main temples of the city. I walk back down to the river and have a look at the area on the other side of the river. This side of the city is far less visited by all the tourist in town than the temple part of the town.


There are a couple of different things you can look at down at the river.

But the most interesting sight by far is a long row of Buddha statues with small red caps or other red decorations of the statures. The moist from the river causes the stone statues along the river to be covered with moss to different degrees. It is starting to get dark hence I will take the train back towards Tokyo so I can finally go to the capital of the country which I have been avoiding so far.


Getting to Tokyo is quite special. I go to Tokyo station with the shinkansen and then take the ring line which continues to Shinjuku station. Getting out at this station is like nothing else I have ever seen. I am getting here pretty late and it must be way after the rush hour - but the station is crowded - no station in Denmark ever have this many people at any given time of day - this station is not just busy it is the busiest train station in the world. People are walking fast to get from one place to another and you need to take care otherwise you literally run the risk of being walked all over.

I wonder how can I cross over this constant flow of Japanese without getting trampled to death - but you can’t really hang around and wonder what to do because you will cause chaos so I just take a change and cross the extreme flow of people - without getting into any serious trouble. After a bit I realize I am lost - I can’t find my way to the metro station so I have to ask for direction at the station police station. The officer doesn’t speak any English but he got a map and can explain the route to me and I follow his instructions and manage to get out of the station. From the metro station it is pretty straight forward to get to my hostel.

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photo by: Shakar81