Posted in Travel

Journey in Japan: Part 4 – Nikko (Autumn)

Hello folks.

I did some more travelling and ended up going to Nikko. For those of you interested in Japan, this is what you usually hear: you will say, “Oh man, I wish I could go to Japan.” Then, the friend sitting next to you, who has never actually been to Japan, will say, “Dude, you should totally check out Mt. Fuji, that’s the first place to go for sure.” Then, a few minutes later, another person will come along, someone who has actually been in Japan for a decent amount of time, and they will say, “Okay, first off, Mt. Fuji is a mountain. It isn’t going anywhere. It can wait. Second, where you should visit depends on the duration, time of year and your specific interests. If you are going for a week in the winter and don’t like walking, going to Mt. Fuji is the dumbest thing to do. If you are going for a month in the summer, sure, go with some friends to Mt. Fuji.”

The reason I bring up this highly lengthy and contrived example is because I expect that many people don’t know what Nikko is, especially if you haven’t been to Japan yet.

Nikko is located in Tochigi prefecture, for reference that’s north and slightly west of Tokyo. Nikko itself encompasses pretty much all of the north-western quarter of Tochigi. It includes such features as Mt. Nantai, Lake Chuzenji, Senjogahara Marsh and Toshogu Shrine, where the late Tokugawa Ieyasu was enshrined and deified.

Historically, Nikko is probably most significant for the aforementioned Toshogu Shrine. Tokugawa Ieyasu is considered by many to be one of, if not, the most important people in Japanese history. The wars of the Sengoku period, which were filled with names such as Oda Nobunaga, Akechi Mitsuhide, Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin, were eventually brought to a halt by one of Nobunaga’s retainers, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Eventually, Hideyoshi’s lust for power proved to be too great and he eventually died, leaving his heir in the hands of five of his advisors, one of whom was Tokugawa Ieyasu. In the end, Ieyasu proved to be the strongest among them in the power grab that ensued and he began a line of Shoguns and an era of peace in Japan that is, to this day, unprecedented in its length. For almost 200 years, the Tokugawa bakufu would stand as leaders of a unified Japan (although it wasn’t until much later that those in charge learned how flawed the system actually was). After his death in 1616, he was enshrined in Nikko Toshogu Shrine and given the Buddhist name Tōshō Daigongen.

With that history lesson out of the way, let’s get to the pictures.

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Okay, that’s all for now. Thanks for reading and have a great day.

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