Arriving in Nikko we found it wet with snow blanketing much of the area. We had been warned by the hotel receptionist that it would be much colder in Nikko than Tokyo because of the slight elevation so we dressed accordingly. Now, our next challenge would be finding the Toshogu Shrine.

Following the directions in the guide book we set out in what we thought was the right direction. We walked and walked but no shrine. We covered the downtown area and ended up on the outskirts of town before we acknowledged something was wrong and headed back to the center of town to regain our bearings again. Again, I say, what better way to get to know a new country than by walking its streets.

Japanese Garden
Nikko's Toshogu Shrine was built to honor the memory of Ieyasu Tokugawa, Japan's first Shogun. Tokugawa, born in 1542 during a period of great civil wars, succeeded in unifying Japan. He is honored for laying the foundation of peace and culture that would typify modern day Japan. We would learn later when we visited friends in Osaka that this shrine is a "must see" for the Japanese.

In all there are 55 main structures on the grounds at Toshogu Shrine and it covers 80,000 sq. meters. The buildings are elaborately decorated and painted with intricate carvings common throughout. Many of structures have been designated as a Japanese National Treasure or Important Cultural Property.

Yomei-mon Gate
<< Statues of Ni-o carved by Hogan Koon in the beginning of the Tokugawa Dynasty.

Belfry and Drum Tower

Karamon Gate

5 story Pagoda

Hear, Speak and See No Evil carving

Sleeping Cat
<< The Sacred Tower where the remains of Ieyasu Tokugawa are buried.
Anne on her way down the steps from the Sacred >>
Tower. Being built on a hillside there were numerous steps, 207 to be exact, to reach the burial site of the Shogun.

Anne climbing more steps

Many Japanese were making their pilgrimage to the shrine

Anne and the Ming Dog
After spending several hours within the Toshogu Shrine enjoying the many beautiful treasures there we were feeling cold and damp. We wanted desperately to find some place to sit down and warm up before continuing our journey. Passing through one of the gates we noticed several buildings, a restaurant and a gift shop. We proceeded into the restaurant where we enjoyed some hot Japanese green tea. The server prepared our tea at the table and it was quite impressive to watch the ceremony that she followed in preparing the tea. The English are known for their tea, but the Japanese are most certainly known for their ceremony in preparing tea. We enjoyed the tea and the warmth very much.
Leaving the Toshogu Shrine and heading back to the train station we came across Shinkyo, the Sacred Bridge. The bridge was built in 1636 for the exclusive use, for over three hundred years, of the Shogun and his emissaries to cross the Daiyagawa River. Even today the bridge is blocked by a barrier and is only opened on the occasion of the Toshogu Shrine Festival.
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Planning the trip and Getting There
Singapore -- Orchard Road | Chinatown | Merlion Park | Arab Town and Indian District | Tang Dynasty City | Singapore Zoo | Mandai Orchid Garden | Sentosa Island
Hong Kong -- Hong Kong Island | Hong Kong at Night and the New Territories | Lok Ma Chau | Kowloon | Causeway Bay
Macau -- Monte Hill and St. Paul's | A-Ma Temple and Lou Lem Ioc Garden
People's Republic of China -- The Border and Farming Village | Lunch and the Ox | Dr. Sun Yat-Sen's Home | Chinese Market
Bangkok -- The City and Weekend Market | The Grand Palace | Grand Palace (Emerald Buddha) | Grand Palace (Dusit Group) | Ayutthaya (Reclining Buddha) | Ayutthaya (Ruins) | Bang-Pa-In Palace | Chao Phraya River
Phuket -- The Hotel and Popeye | Phuket Island | The Beaches and Local Wat | Promthep Cape
Japan -- Tokyo | Osaka & Kyoto | Visiting Friends | Nara | Hiroshima & Miyajima | Going Home
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