Sunday, July 6, 2008

July 6 - Our Dai Bo-oken to Nikko National Park

The Nikko National Park sign and a photo of the lushness and beauty of the landscape, including the Kirifuri Falls.

This is the main temple gate in Nikko. It is called the Nikko Toshogu Shrine. It is so beautiful and majestic.
There is a closeup further down the blog.

To the right we see the long walk up to get to the main temple complex.

Jim is standing in front of a 5-storied pagoda, 35 meters high. Originally dedicated in 1650, it was rebuilt in 1818 after the first burned down.

Detail on one of the out buildings.

This is a fierce guard to keep the enemy out.

This building on the left is the Royal Stable which housed the royal horses. Look where the guide is pointing for the school children to look.
This close up below shows the three monkeys: hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil. This is where that saying comes from.

The building to the left has carvings of birds all around the walls.
Below is a view of the main temple buildings as you approach them.

This is the roof of one of the buildings and to the left is a close up of one of the families carved into the roof.

At the gate to the main part of the temple buildings are some special guards. Look at the closeup and see the fine detail that they used.

This is the ceiling of the portable shrine house.

This is a closeup of a portable shrine. It reminds us of the Ark of the Covenant.

There are wild monkeys at Nikko, but they can be hard to spot. We were lucky to see some sitting right along the road. The one on the left is a mother and baby, and on the right are monkeys doing what monkeys do!!

This lake is called Lake Chuzenji. It is such a beautiful lake and the growth around it is lush and comes right down to the edge of the lake so there are no beaches. We enjoyed a nice boat ride around the lake.

This is a photo of Pres. Hill's sister Donna, Pres. Hill, Sis. Hill, and us at the Falls.

This is a picture of Kegon Falls, which is 98 meters in height. Notice all of the little side water falls that come out of the rocks.

Dear Family & Friends,

We had an awesome dai bo-oken last Tuesday. Pres. Hill’s sister, Donna, was visiting for a week and they wanted to take her to Nikko and invited us to go with them. What a wonderful day we had!!

We left about 9:00 in the morning as it is a 2-hour drive to get there. As we left the downtown Tokyo area, the country got greener and more beautiful. We started passing farms and gradually got into some nice mountainous area with lots of lush growth of trees and bushes. Huge trees!

“Nikko Toshogu Shrine has 55 main structures covering 80,000 sq. meters. It was built during the Edo period during the 1600’s to honor Ieyasu Tokugawa, a Shogun born in 1542. He succeeded in unifying the country and made great contributions to the foundation of peace and culture for modern Japan. He died in 1616 and his son built the shrine for the veneration of his father. The buildings have undergone very extensive reconstructions over 20 times since its first construction.” These are quotes from the booklet we bought about the shrine. They were doing lots of remodeling while we were there, and a lot of photos in the book were much richer and brighter in color than were the actual buildings when we saw them.

The town called Nikko has built up as a tourist town to support this awesome shrine. It was very nice and quiet, but we were there in the middle of the week and missed the weekend traffic.

We drove across the river on a new bridge, but could see the original cantilevered red bridge that could be raised in time of war to prevent the enemy from crossing. We saw two waterfalls of the many that are in the area. The 2nd one, called Kegon (Kaygone with a long O sound), was spectacular!!! We even took an elevator built into rock down about 2/3 of the way to the bottom to see more of the river and other smaller waterfalls coming into it.

The shrine has lots of stairs to get to all the different buildings, but the main area was incredible with some wonderful buildings all close together. Their stables were decorated as if they were palaces. We saw gates and huge lanterns and such delicate, ornate stone and woodwork. We even saw the sacred stable building where the original three monkeys (“see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil") were carved.

After we walked all over the complex and up and down lots of steps (thank you, Sherry, for warning us about all the steps), we got in the car and drove the winding road up the mountain (great memories of our wild taxi ride up the Mt. of Transfiguration in Israel). But on this trip we got to see some wild monkeys. They sit by the side of the road and just watch the world go by.

Up at the top of the mountain is another tourist town on the shores of this wonderful huge lake, Lake Chuzenji. We took a boat ride around the lake and enjoyed the dense trees all the way down to the shore and waved at the small fishing boats as we passed them. Then we enjoyed Kegon Falls which I mentioned earlier, drove back down the winding mountain (oh, one road goes up and the other goes down, so you don’t worry about meeting traffic but you do worry about getting car sick. Thank heavens, no one did!!) We had a nice dinner back in Nikko and then headed home, much tired at the end of a long and fantastic day!!!

Give us a couple of days and we will get the photos downloaded so you can enjoy them on our blog. We hope you can see the detail on the buildings.

The rest of the week has been anticlimactic after that!! We did go shopping at Costco on Friday—an almost 2 hour drive right here in Tokyo because of the traffic on the freeway (only an hour if no traffic). It’s in Chiba, lower right corner on the map we sent out, #55. The airport is at the far right of the map, #57 and 58. This was Jim’s first experience of driving the roads and freeways. It is a little weird driving on the wrong side of the road and turning on the wipers (which is on the left) instead of the turn signal (which is on the right). Thank goodness the gas pedal is still on the right.

We are gearing up for transfers this next week. We hardly ever have the same number going home as we do coming out. This time 14 going home and 9 coming out. We will miss two of the missionaries that have been here at the Honbu. One of the Assistants, Elder Innes, is going home and Elder Muroi, the Commissary, is being transferred. We have known them both since we arrived and will miss them both, they are great missionaries and great men. With men such as these, we have hope for the wicked world we live in.

We also celebrated Pres. Hill’s birthday yesterday and today. It’s actually July 5th, but we had the big dinner today. He is a great man and we were glad to celebrate with him and Sis. Hill.

We love you all—

Jim & Pat

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