We took a day trip from Tokyo to the ancient town of Nikko, a world heritage site famous for the shrine and temple of Toshugo, an important Shogun in Edo history. The two hour train ride is a lovely journey out of the busy life of Tokyo and soon you see farm lands, rice paddies and the changing leaves that everyone is snapping photos of at this time of year. Golden yellow, bright red and orange, and sunlight slipping thru. There were many Japanese seniors making the trek too, and snacking away on home dried fish snacks while socializing. Nikko is a small town set amongst mountains and rivers and is naturally beautiful. We were lucky to have such a beautiful day to walk the trails from shrine to shrine. There are four major sites to visit here and why they are all famous I know not, except it is the final resting grounds of this Samurai. These hundreds of year old temples and shrines are beautiful though, surrounded by ancient trees and natural trails. There are stone lanterns lining the path and tori gates that lead you into each sacred space. This is a pilgrimage of sorts for Buddhists with Places to pray along the way, with bells, gongs and incense. The intricate designs on the temples are beautiful and so detailed with flowers and animals. One design is well known with the three monkeys depicting see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. There are a few pagodas here also, towering high up into the trees with their bright red beauty. After hours of stair climbing and wandering we were slowly fading. Down the Main Street we found a nice lunch with soba noodles, tempura and tea. Just enough rest for our tired feet.
We continued on down a less than travelled trail and discovered a sacred burial park with tombstones lined with little statues of Buddha wearing red hats. The area overlooked the river and was lined with stunning trees all changing colors. It was quiet and peaceful and but for the one man lighting incense and laying them at the little Buddhas, we were all alone. A lovely way to end our time in Nikko, leaves crunching under our feet, sun setting over the mountains.
I write this on the train as we return to Tokyo. And it was a lovely day indeed. We will make a stop on the way back to our Ryokan tonight at a festival happening that has something to do with roosters and good luck... We'll see about that! Reporting to you live from Tokyo! Skye