25 January 2007

Day 3, 17 Dec 06 - Nikko Town

It snowed! ... while we were sleeping. I think so because there seemed to be more snow on the rooftops. Breakfast was buffet-style, mostly traditional Japanese items. After breakfast, another soak at the onsen again :) I could feel my skin glowing after the soak. Well, the natural hotspring water rich in minerals is said to be good for the body and skin.
After checking out at 9.30am, we boarded a bus heading towards Nikko Town. Our 2nd ryokan was located at Nikko Town, within walking distance to the shrines and temples. After depositing our barang barang at the ryokan, we were set to take a leisurely tour of the Nikko temple and shrine area which has been designated as one of World Heritage Site. It is interesting to note that the combination ticket for 2 shrines and 1 temple 二社一寺共通拝観券 cost only 1000 yen, whereas it would cost 2400 yen if you were to purchase the tickets separately. Go figure.

Toshogun Shrine 日光東照宮
The mausoleum of Ieyasu Takugawa, first Takygawa Shogun of the Edo period who laid the foundations for Tokyo. Notably we visited one of the national treasure 'Yomei-mon Gate' 陽明門 as well as the Sacred Stable, which is famous for the carving of the three monkeys 三猿 expressing 'Hear no evil, speak no evil and see no evil'.

Rinnoji Temple 日光山輪王寺
One of the three largest headquarter of the Tendai sect of Buddhism, the ancient temple was built in 766 in honour of the three mountain gods of Nikko. Sanbutsudo 三仏堂, or the Hall of the Three Buddhas has been designated as an "Important Cultural Property'' by the government.

Futarasan Shrine 日光二荒山神社
Ancestors of Japanese respected high mountains because they believed that the mountains handle various phenomena such as clouds, rain, snow and thunder. These phenomena give water for people's lives. They believed that God was there. This is the beginning of mountainous worship. Futara of spiritual mountain (today's Mt. Nantai) has been respected since early times.

Time for lunch again. We wondered around Nikko Town, following our sense of smell which led us to an eatery selling udon, soba. Being greedy, I ordered a mini Katsu-don and yuba soba set, whereas hubby concentrated on a yuba udon. Needless to say, the food was good, but the soup base seemed to lose out to the one we had at Chuzenji.

Shinkyo, or Sacred Bridge 神橋 was our next stop. Touted as a landmark, the beautiful bridge across Daiya River is a gateway to the temple and shrine area of Nikko City.

Having had enough of the cultural and heritage sightseeing, we decided to check into our ryokan and laze around the whole afternoon. Hotel Harumoto ホテル 春茂登 is a modest ryokan hotel which also has a rich history since the Meiji period. Room rate was 9600 yen per person inclusive of 1 breakfast and 1 dinner.

A kaiseiki dinner was served in the comfort of our room. We seemed to be eating and eating these few days. Luckily we walked a lot to help us burn the extra calories.
After dinner, we went for a soak at the hotel's simple public bath with alkaline spring water and drifted to dreamland soon after.

Day 3 thoughts: Perfect weather to take a leisurely stroll around the sacred World Heritage Site.

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