Nikkō is small town in the mountains north of Tokyo, that became very important in the Edo Period, when the Tokugawa Shoguns used it as their main religous site. The journey to get there from Yudanaka was slightly convoluted, but it was another great experience in Japanese railway travel, with a mix of shinkansen and retro regional trains. We went there to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site Shrines and Temples of Nikkō. I hadn’t looked much into what awaited us and was expecting just some temples and shrines in the forest. What we found was a flamboyant display of religous buildings that really show the power of the Edo period Shoguns. The whole site has been (re?)built to hold huge crowds, with massive staircases and pathways, that looked even more impressive with the small out of season crowd.
I recently read a blog about common mistakes of travel phtography and one of them rang particularly true while writing this blog post – ‘always do your research about the place you visit’. This was the very mistake we made in our visit to Nikkō’s Shrines and Temples Park! Of course, we assumed that we could get information at the actual site and learn as we go, but this wasn’t the case. The result was a wonderful, yet overwhelming and sometimes confusing, visit to some of Japan’s most intricately decorated shrines and temples. If I went there again, I would research the Shrine and Temple complexes more to take more informed photos and look at the designs in more detail. But I guess that can be said about most places you visit. It was still a unique experience and definitely worth the visit; I just learned about the history and the various buildings a little later!