229 - 11th September 2006 - Nikko


This is Nikko


Nikko isn't that interesting a town in itself


Until you get to the top end of town


That's where you find things like the Shin-Kyo bridge


It was supposedly formed by two snakes who helped a priest across the river


These are the steps to enlightenment - They lead to the World Heritage site of the ToshoGu shrines


Dragon fountain


Statue of a Buddhist monk named Shodo Shonin


This is the Rinno-ji shrine


There were lots of Japanese tour groups around. Photos were not allowed inside but it contained three 8 meter tall gold gilded Buddha and Kannon statues


Bell


The Fire Temple - Inside a monk was offering prayers written on wooden sticks to the gods by burning them into the ether amongst much chanting


The rear of the Rinno-ji shrine


There was a nice garden with lots of fish who come over to see you


These steps lead further up the hill


This toshii gate is one of the only original constructions on site. Many were burned down and reconstructed later.


A five storied pagoda


Guarding the Omote-mon gate


Lantern housings inside


Lots of gold gilding


This carving of three monkeys is based on one of the famous precepts of Buddhism


Hear no evil


See no evil


Speak no evil


This horse was a gift from the New Zealand government. It is named 'Koha' which means gift in Maori and is famous for being the only horse kept in a shrine.


No Smokig!


The ornate ablutions


The whole area is very impressive


Gargoyle-like protrusion on the end of the gutter


Huge bell


The floral and bird carvings above the lanterns were very colourful


Looking down the wall


One of the Sacred Storehouses


More ornate decorations


Guarding the Yomei-mon (Sun Blaze Gate)


The eyes were sunken in and very realistic


It's beginning to rain!


Through the gate into the shrine - No shoes! or pictures.


These portable shrines called Mikoshi are used in the Autumn festivals


Whiskey barrels. You wouldn't want the monks to get thirsty would you?


The site was very large and had hundreds of buildings


Raiini-Dai


Close up of the lanterns


The tree lined route to the Toshu-gue temples


Another nice building


A lot of the stone is covered with moss or plants making it feel very ancient


Yaaaawwwwnn


Five story pagoda


This line of lanterns leads to another area


Close up


The rain started coming down really hard after this shot was taken


The plaza


Gate in the rain. We were sheltered under a shop selling fortunes


Ingenious way of controlling the rain fall and making it decorative at the same time


One person braving the downpour


The gate leading to the Futarasan-jinja shrine


It's an incredible place


The final set of shrines


Guarded over by two statues


Who look decidedly fierce


Ablutions


Past the fierceness you come to this guy auditioning for a part in Saturday Night Fever


and then back to Fierceness again


Shrine in the rain


The doorway to the courtyard


Watching the rain cascade off the building


This little chap overlooks the shrine entrance


Amazing handiwork


Pip in the rain - We bought umbrellas in Tokyo after looking at the weather report - Thank God (or Buddha) for that!!


The Koka-mon gate, Nikko Mausoleum Rin-no-ji Taiyuin. The last bit of the shrine we saw, tucked away in one corner


Heading back to the town


This is an example of a bowl of rice that people attempt to eat during one of the festivals. I think shares in Alka-Seltzer go up each year on that day.


The infamous Shinkansen - Bullet train - coming into the station at Utsonomiya to take us back to Tokyo