Nikko has to be seen to be believed. Founded hundreds of years ago and kept active ever since, there are so many shrines and large temples that it kept fast walkers like us busy all day. We got there before the tour buses and appreciated the calm before the storm of school children that had descended by lunch time.
The paint and metal work is kept in good condition so you really get a good feel of what these buildings looked like originally. Of particular interest was the Toshogu Shrine and its woodwork. Carved into the ‘Sacred Stable’ (which happens to be home to the only temple horse that has come from another country, and that country happens to be New Zealand) is the famous depiction of “see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil” as acted out by monkeys.
Facing that is a ‘Sacred Store House’ and the carvings of elephants that has clearly been done by someone who has never actually seen an elephant. They have the general idea right and are clearly talented artists, but the animals shown here are not quite right. I’ve seen the same phenomenon in Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum. There a medal for some heroic or brave act shows african animals as they would have been described. Rhinos with riveted armour plating and giraffes with horse-like bodies.
I’m a bit worried about my fitness now. I’m tired after a slow day with only a day pack. Hopefully it’s a mental thing. No drive to get anywhere and so much stuff to absorb. When we get to Fuji next week there will be a definite goal and no ancient temples to ponder. Just physical exhaustion to battle and I’m cool with that.