Nikko is awesome! Although kind of a pain to get to, I had read so much about it and I really wanted to go. It was a rainy, misty day but all the mausoleums and shrines were beautiful and mystical. It seemed like a shogun might pop out from behind the trees because, as everyone knows, mist is totally associated with time travel and a quick flash to the 13th century? Totally plausible!
Mom and I took the Shinkasen from Shin-Yokohama to Utsunomiya with a transfer at Tokyo station. While the 1 minute miracle didn’t happen with the Shinkasen, we only had to wait ~10 minutes, which considering the trains ran fairly infrequently still makes me think the Mom’s lucky streak is alive. Once we got to Utsunomiya, we switched to the Nikko line for the 43 minute train ride out to Nikko. Once there, we started walking towards the sites, which turned out to be 180° in the wrong direction. I should have known since that always happens to me when I first look at a map. But we figured it out after a few minutes. We went to the bus stop to get a ride to the sights since we realized we really had no clue how to find the place. The bus came within 1 minute. And it’s great that we took the bus because to walk to the famous temples, which are really all on one big complex, would have taken about half an hour, mostly uphill. How unpleasant! I mean, I like walking but all it would have been was walking along roads, slightly confused where to go. There was plenty of walking at the sight itself.
My favorite temple was the Tosho-gu, with all its intricately decorated gates. I also like the Yasha-mon (She-demon gate) at Taiyu-in. The statues were quite manly, to the point where I’m not quite sure how they are female gods but whatever. Maybe I’m missing the point. The three buddhas in the Rinno-ji were also really cool. They were huge! It was the closest I’ve gotten to Buddha statues so I got to see all the surrounding accoutrements like the egret lamps, Buddhist prayer banners made of chain-linked gold, and lots of lanterns. It was beautiful!
After a lot of touristing, Mom and I headed back to the train station. We bought bento boxes for the Shinkasen home, which was key since I was starving! We drank some wine when we got home and then called it a night.
Next stop: Kyoto!