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Japan Kanto Temples and Shrines Tochigi

Toshogu Shrine Nikko

April 11, 2015

More than 1 000 years ago, a Buddhist priest named Shodo Shonin crossed the Daiya River on his way to Mount Nantai and founded the first temple at Nikko. Today, 103 buildings and structures make up an area known as the “Shrines and Temples of Nikko”, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After our drive up to Kegon Falls, John and I headed back into town to see one of the site’s most prominent shrines, Toshogu (東照宮).

Unlike the simple architecture of most of Japan’s shrines and temples, Toshogu is exquisitely ornate, decorated with gold leaf, bright lacquer paints and intricate carvings. The mash up of Buddhist and Shinto elements with a strong Chinese influence is a circus of texture and color, for which appreciation varies according to personal taste: some love it, others hate it. I found it fascinating.

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Japan Kanto Tochigi Waterfalls

Kegon Falls

April 5, 2015

If you’re prone to motion sickness, the road up to Kegon Falls is a challenge. Ascending 400m in just a few kilometres, it snakes around 20 hairpin bends (yes, 20!) before reaching the top of the Nikko mountains. But it’s worth it. On the third day of our trip up north, after arriving just the night before, John and I decided to spend the morning exploring the most famous of Nikko’s 48 waterfalls.

Part of the Nikko National Park, Kegon-no-taki is considered one of the top 3 most beautiful waterfalls in all of Japan. And when you take the elevator down through its bedrock to a multi-platform viewing deck (550円/$4.59 per adult), it’s easy to see why.

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