Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Neato Nikko

I do realise this post is dated within minutes of the Japan Cup post, but it's not all serious karate here all the time. The day after the Japan Cup, Dec 10th, Arakawa Sensei took myself and Mr. Mike Spain to one of the most famous sightseeing towns in Japan - Nikko.

About a 2 hour drive from Sugito, the mountain town of Nikko has multiple temples and shrines. Ensconced within a myriad of greenery, the different religious grounds all combined are a peaceful and beautiful site that justifies its place as an official UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Arakawa Sensei and Mike in front of the Toshogu Shrine entrance.

Although known for many things, the first major shrine to see is Toshogu, where the famous "Hear no evil, See no evil, Speak no evil" monkeys who are carved on the side of one of the buildings. Heading up to the temple behind Arakawa Sensei and Mike in the above picture enters the garden of the main building.

On the right side of the garden is a very steep 200-step staircase that leads to a grave site of Ieyasu Tokugawa, the founding Shogun of the Tokugawa feudal period. His site is in stark contrast to the rest of the decorated shrine as it is surprisingly simple.

To the left of the picture is a special building with a dragon painted on the ceiling. The acoustics are such that standing right beneath the dragon's mouth (which is just to the right of centre) is a spot that causes sound to echo throughout the symmetrical rectangular room. Anywhere else only gives a dull thud which, for a symmetrical room to be able to do this, was astonishing to me.

Our morning there ended off with a quick lunch before heading back home to get ready to train some more at night. But what a day it was.......


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