Here Comes the Rain Again...After a good night's sleep, we were up early and looking forward to another day in Nikko. Then we looked out the window: Rain. Rain. Rain. Monkeys. Rain. Rain. More monkeys. More rain. At least we got to see some monkeys, right? We didn't have time to contemplate the meaning of another day slogging through the rain, though, because our allotted breakfast time was 7:30 to 8:30, and it was already 8:00. Time to go! We headed downstairs (in our yukata, of course) for something nice and warm to help us start our day. Behold, the traditional Japanese breakfast:
|A little smoked fish, rice porridge with pickle, and miso soup to start your day? Maybe a little fresh salad, too? Me neither.|
After breakfast we headed back to our rooms to prepare for our second day of Nikko in the rain. We all got dressed, and with an unflagging sense of optimism, I dried our shoes with a hairdryer:
Then, out we headed to the main attraction: the Nikko World Heritage sight. The rain has slowed to a drizzle, and we were lucky enough to catch the hotel shuttle to the site (maybe our luck was changing?), which is made up of four enormous religious sites: Toshogu Shrine, Rinnoji Temple-Sambutudo, Futarasan Shrine, and Rinnoji Taiyuin Temple. I am not a bucket-list kind of person, but if I were, this would be on my list.
Though most foreigners would likely recognize Nikko as the birthplace of the "Hear no evil; speak no evil, see no evil" monkeys, here's the thirty-second "real" history of the site: Nikko has been known as a religious area since at least the 8th century, when the Rinnoji temple complex was first built. The Toshogu shrine was then built in the 17th century to memorialize Ieyasu Tokugawa, the Shogun who is credited with unifying Japan. His shrine was originally built to his specifications in Nikko (on a much smaller scale) but was later "improved" to its current grand scale by his grandson, Iemitsu Togukawa. (He was the third Tokugawa Shogun. Mitsu means third.) Iemitsu left clear instructions in his will to build a mausoleum. It was named Taiyuin. That's really much more information than I meant to include. The links to a much better job of explaining the intricacies of Nikko's religious and secular history. But, I did want to give you a little context before showing you the photos.
First, let's get the monkeys out of the way:
|Which one are YOU?|
|This map is of just the Toshogu Shrine at the World Heritage Site. Lots to see and many stairs to climb.|
|Lots of folks are eager to see the shrines. Walk up on the right; down on the left. Just like escalators.|
It's 1,000 yen (just over $10), and they write your name on it on the outside (ours says Forman's book). Each shrine and temple has its own stamp and calligraphy, and for 300 yen (about $4), a special calligrapher will make an entry in your book. Kind of like getting an autograph for each place you've visited. I was all over that like a duck on a junebug. Each shrine and temple visit became a quest to find the calligrapher. It was way too much fun. (Maybe even more fun than searching for beach glass, which will surprise some of you who know me well.)
|I am especially fond of this photo. This young woman was very sweet. Most of the calligraphers have been men. She was our second calligrapher.|
|This was our third calligrapher. He was making the entry for the Yakushi-Do "Dragon" shrine, which is part of the Toshogu complex. This is IW's favorite entry.|
|After interviewing us, we were asked to sign our names. IW was surrounded by the ladies...shades of things to come?|
|The drizzle was stopping; we were headed down to the next site when I noticed this (below):|
At the bottom of the stairs, we headed toward the next shrine, but not before I coerced the kids into this:
Please forgive me. I could not resist. Though really AH and I should have traded places, because we all know how much my mouth gets me into trouble.
The rain was starting to pick up again, but the boys still took time to play a game of ring toss that is meant to bring good luck.
|I could not resist this origami. Isn't it insanely fabulous? I think it must have been made by magic. No human has fine motor skills good enough to accomplish this.|
|Taiyuin Rinnoji Temple (Iemitsu's mausoleum)|
But here's a little something special for having read to the end of the post...this is what the inside of our calligraphy book looks like as of today (7/14/12)...we've got 9 entries (so far):