5 Dec 2012 – Nikko Day 2

We woke up to a sunny Nikko on Wednesday, the lodge was still empty with us as the only guests, which was really nice but also somewhat weird. We had some breakfast and then headed out for a day long hike.

We walked from the lodge down towards Shinkyo, the holy bridge, again and continued up to the Kanmangafuchi Abyss, set next to the rumbling Daiya river, along this walk are some 70 stone statues of Jizo’s. They look a bit like a Buddha’s, but they are a Bodhisattva who cares for the deceased. This group of Jizo satues are also called ‘Bake Jizo’. Allegedly if you count them left to right, then right to left the number will differ by one. However we didn’t find this out until later on in the evening, so we didn’t have a chance to try to count them ourselves.

By each Jizo statue were lot’s of change that had been thrown as donations for prayers. It’s great to see money being left alone like that, back in ‘our world’, the money, no matter how little, would be gone in no time. The red knitted hats on the Jizo were traditionally knitted by mothers worrying about their child or the wellbeing of their child or grandchild.

The Daiya River’s water comes from the Chuzen-ji Lake and passes by the mighty Kegon Falls before ending up as the Daiya River. The lake is 1270, above see level and just under the Kegon Falls is 1170m! Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to go and see the lake or the Kegon Falls. Next time for sure!

We walked around these little residential streets, where the water from the mountain was running by outside their houses, almost like a mini moat and at some houses they still had the old fashioned water taps, so I’m assuming that used to be their main water source. What’s great in Nikko is that you’re never far away from free, crystal clear drinking water – there are sources of Nikko mountain water everywhere to refill your bottle and quench your thirst!

As we didn’t have the time to see one of the temples on Tuesday, we walked back to the shrines and entered to see it, you’ll have to forgive me but I have forgotten the name. It was well worth it, by far the most ornate and beautiful of all of them. With lot’s of gold leaf details. I just wish I had a time machine so that I could travel back and see what life was like in these places all those hundreds of years ago.

After this we continued onwards and upwards on a hiking trail, a rather long uphill hike in the forest, lined with huge Japanese Cedar trees. The Cedar trees that are surrounding all the temples were actually planted around the temples when they were built back in the 1600’s sometime. The trail looked like something out of Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. It was like a fairy tale forest, the only thing missing was unicorns, elves and fairies.

We saw some more unexpected shrines and statues in the forest along our hike too!

After seeing everything we saw in Nikko I thought about how lucky we are and how happy I am that we get to experience this and see all these wonderful things. I feel well and truly blessed. However there was so much more we wanted to see and do in Nikko, but simply didn’t have time to. I think you can easily spend 3 or even 4 days in Nikko and still have a full agenda.

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