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25 December 2006 @ 08:36 pm
Merry Christmas from Nikko, Japan  

Merry Christmas from Nikko

I went with my best friend Eda to Nikko, from yesterday morning until today. It's my first trip that was longer than a day and the first time I've ever used a travel agent, and it was really exciting. =^__^= Or more like relaxing.

I'm back in Tokyo at the moment, but it was a really great trip!! I was still sick as we left and pretty queasy, but miraculously, for the first time in more than a week, on the long train ride there (about 3 hours), it miraculously cleared up!! I'm not sure why, but I think that maybe it was a combination of the clearer air as we got out of the city, and the toppo (chocolate filled pretzel snacks) that we ate on the way there. Toppo is my new love! I had to take it really slow so I held things up a lot, but Eda and I still managed to survive the bitter freezing cold and really enjoy the scenery!!

We went up to Shinkyo Bridge (sacred bridge) first, and then to Futarasan shrine, Toshogu Shrine, and Rinnoji temple area. It was so gorgeous!!! ^o^ Lots of steps, but so, so gorgeous! It was a great Christmas Eve day, and then we retired to our hotel in the early afternoon, completely beat. Wow, the hotel that we picked was AMAZING!!! A japanese style hotel, where we were greeted by men in suits and women in kimonos who took care of everything for us. They gave us yukata, and we had a gorgeous japanese-style room (which I forgot to take pictures of, I was really tired), and we explored the hotel a little bit. Then dinner was brought to our room, which was this HUGE full-course japanese meal! I don't know what half of it was and being sick some of it made me more queasy than not, but there was also some delicious things in there. =^__^= Then we enjoyed the gorgeous outdoor onsen and retired until a guy came to bring out our futons for us!! Such great service!! =^___^= In the morning, there was a huge buffet breakfast where I feasted on fruit because I was back to being nauseous and the sight of onsen tamago and natto didn't help, lol. But the view was GORGEOUS. I really wish that we didn't have to leave!! Oh, but wow, we made a GREAT choice. =^___^=

I didn't take as many pictures as I'd have liked to, but I did take some gorgeous ones. =^___^= I can't wait to go back again someday! Hopefully in the summer when the fields are full of yellow flowers. =D

A pretty rock at Nikko station. ^^

Nikko station.

Nikko. It was very small. =D

A weird old-fashioned phone booth!

This is Shinkyo Bridge. ^^ Shinkyo is one of the three most unusual bridges in Japan. This beautiful bridge across DAiyo River is the gateway to the temple and shrine area of Nikko City. (I stole that from the travel guide at the station. ^^;;)

Near the entrance to the temples was this fountain...

And this one. This monk is sitting high on the top of the world! =D (Or am I just a good photographer?)

I don't know?

This is Nikko's famous 5-story pagoda ♥

Detailing on the pagoda. Such gorgeous attention to detail ♥

This is the Chinese-style Toshogu Shrine. Look at all of the real gold! Toshogu shrine is the mausoleum of Ieyasu Tokugawa, the first Tokugawa shogun.

These monkeys are also part of the Toshogu Shrine. They're one of Nikko's most famous symbols, with their "Hear no Evil, Speak no Evil, See no Evil" motif. ^-^

More of the monkey carvings on the same building. ^^

More of Toshogu shrine in the sunlight. Gorgeous!! The gold is very reflective. This is one of Japan's greatest treasures.


Yomei-mon gate.

I love how even in the temples, there is plenty of whiskey. XD;;

More of the ornate detail. Absolutely amazing ♥

This is the Sakashita-mon gate, or the "nemuri neko", the famous sleeping cat. Supposedly it's hard to find, but I suppose that's only when it's not marked with a big sign and people taking pictures in front of it. ^^;;

Beautiful stone lanterns along the pathways. I wish they'd been lit, because maybe it wouldn't have been so cold (it was definitely below freezing, though there was no snow yet). But I really love this picture. ^^

Another temple.

This god is inviting you into his... cage. =D For what, we don't know =D =D =D I pimp the gods.

Our dinner. This is just my portion!! I tried everything but only ate about 1/3 because... well, a queasy stomach and food that "takes getting used to" don't match. ^^;; But I was still really fully. XD;;

But this.... we don't know what it was, but it was kind of like... green hair soup. Not palatable in the slightest. ^^;;;

The views from the hotel window Christmas morning. We were on the top floor (9th).

We could see the guy's outdoor onsen from our window, heehee♥ Saw lots of naked men, but well.. it's far away and very cold, so we couldn't make out a single thing! Plus, you know.... japanese men... ^-^;;;;;;;;

There was a lot more that I wanted to take pictures of, like the GIANT three buddhas inside the temples, and the howling dragon that was painted onto a ceiling, but supposedly made noise and moved when a gong was banged in correct rhythmnation (but I didn't see him move, but we sure looked!). But pictures weren't allowed in these places. But it's amazing to walk underneath a many-armed buddha sitting on a lotus that is made largely of gold and gems (?) and intricately carved, that is more than 10 times your own height. Three of them. Statues that probably each took a crew of 50 craftsmen their entire lives to build, that people have honestly worshipped to for centuries. Such is the devotion to their gods and religion, and even though I do not believe in the same things that the creators did, I can feel the strength of their conviction, the love and devotion that went into their crafts. It took my breath away. One of the most humbling places that I have ever been into in my life. If only cameras were allowed.... but then, I feel that maybe it would have taken away something from the moment, and truly, I don't think that a picture can truly express the experience of the moment. It's something that I really recommend that everyone who has a chance to, experiences for themselves. ♥

Merry Christmas, everyone, and happy winter holidays to those of you that don't celebrate Christmas. I am not Christian myself, but I love Christmas for the other things that it represents: Family, friends, warmth, giving, cheer and goodwill. Really, I think that it is an amazing holiday. =^__^=

And thank you for everyone that's sent me presents! I have a lot that I still need to take the time to read and appreciate. Since I've been really sick and had little to no energy, I haven't had a chance to open anything. But I'm going to do it today, Christmas, and I will thank you all individually as soon as I possibly can. (It's also time for me to go shopping, finally I can leave the house. ^^;;; Everything is going to be late from me, I feel terrible, but I was sick so I couldn't go out for the last 2 weeks........ ;_; gomen ne!)

Reminder to self to call mom tomorrow morning.... ^^

And now off to try and recover completely. My cough is really strong now....
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on December 26th, 2006 10:29 am (UTC)
That was really informative, thank you! I always think that I'm the exception to the norm, since people like Bush keep getting elected. But I guess that the US isn't as hopelessly religious as I thought. ^^;;