“Think nothing splendid until you have seen Nikko” – Japanese proverb.
With most of the scenic exploring over, Andrew and I decided to spend a day at the major shrines in Nikko – Tōshō-gū Shrine, Taiyū-in Reibyō Mausoleum and Futara-san Jinja. There are plenty of smaller shrines around our neighborhood that we’ve looked around but stepping up to Tōshō-gū Shrine left me speechless.
All the different buildings within each shrine have their own story and purpose. Some are used for prayer, others are used for dances and ceremonies, while others hold Buddhist scriptures and other historical artifacts.
I’ll try my best to describe …
One of the toriis
At one of the first shrines we walked around, I decided to get a fortune. Of course, I have no idea what it says (if anyone can read Japanese and would tell me I will love you forever, honestly). And I really have no idea either what the process was for tying it around these wires (or if I was even supposed to). I probably should have read up on this before going but I so wanted to try it! … Hopefully it doesn’t come back to bite me later! … but for now, on to Taiyū-in Reibyō Mausoleum …
Taiyū-in Reibyō Mausoleum is the resting place of the third Tokugawa shogun, Iemitsu.
Our next stop was to Futara-san Jinja. The torii pictured at the beginning was the entrance to this shrine. Futara-san is sacred to the Shinto deities Okuni-nushi-no-Mikoto, the god of the rice fields and bestower of prosperity.
Walking up to Tōshō-gū Shrine, we clearly saved the best for last. The shrine in and of itself is huge. Through the main torii we stopped at a five-storied Pagoda, before making our way to what has become Nikko’s trademark. Three little monkeys sit on top of the Sacred Stable. They are known as “Hear no evil, Speak no evil, See no evil”.
It is believed that these monkeys are a visual representation of the religious phrase, “If we do not hear, see, or speak evil, we ourselves shall be spared all evil.” … Now isn’t that something more people should listen to?! Along the path we saw many other buildings, the Three Sacred Warehouse, Crying Dragon, Sacred Palanquin House, Sleeping Cat, the Karainon Gate, the Main Stone Room Oratory, and the Inner Shrine, which was Ieyasu’s Tomb.
All the details in each building were breathtaking, remarkable, amazing, I could go on and on. It was crazy to think that centuries ago people built these without the modern technologies of today. I had just recently been to Paris and marveled at the “Old World” style of the buildings and architecture in Europe. I had the same feelings walking around the shrines. Although I couldn’t read any of the signs to understand what I was seeing, I could sense the magnificence of these shrines and the surrounding gardens. It truly was an experience I’ll never forget.
For more pictures check out the More Pictures page 🙂