Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Three Buddhas Of Nikko

March 25, 2008
After spending a day in Tokyo, the next stop I made during my spring break trip last month was Nikko, a small city approximately three hours train ride from Tokyo. Nikko is located at the entrance to Nikko National Park and it is most famous for the Toshogu, Japan's most lavishly decorated shrine complex and mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate. Nikko has been a center of Shinto and Buddhist mountain worship for many centuries, and Nikko National Park continues to offer scenic, mountainous landscapes, lakes, waterfalls, hot springs, wild monkeys and hiking trails.
The train we took to Nikko was mostly consisted of the retired elder generations, who equipped themselves with sophisticated photography devices that were miles away better than my digital camera. Visiting Nikko during the spring season may not be the best option, as the place will be covered with colourful maple leaves during the autumn and it is considered one of the best spot for enjoying the breathtaking scenery of autumn foliage, usually around mid October to mid November.
The Sinkyo Sacred Bridge was the first stop we made, at the entrance of the main shrines and temples of Nikko.
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Sinkyo is one of the three most unusual bridges in Japan. This beautiful red bridge across Daiya River is the gateway to the shrines and temples area of Nikko. A walk around the bridge would cost us as much as 300yen (RM10), that we decided to only have a look at the bridge from afar. Looking at the bridge, I must say that it appears just like any other bridges that you usually see and certainly it didn’t live up to the billing as one of the unusual bridges in Japan.
One of the reason that thousands of tourists visit this place all year round although it is located in a relatively secluded area is because the shrines and temples in the Nikko district have been registered as part of the "World Cultural and Natural Heritage".
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This simple and boring?
Maybe this place doesn't get as much fame and attention like those in other historical sites found in other parts of the world like the Great Wall of China or the Pyramids in Egypt. Nevertheless, I was quite sure that a visit to Nikko would never disappoint me and after I visited those shrines and temples, I was quite right. The first temple we went was Rinnoji, Nikko's most important temple. It was founded by Shodo Shonin, the Buddhist monk who introduced Buddhism to Nikko in the 8th century.
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Sanbutsudo
Rinnoji is one of the three largest headquarters of the Tendai section of Buddhism.
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The interior of the temple.
If you might notice the picture above, there is a painting of a dragon on top of the ceiling.
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The temple's main building, the Sanbutsudo or the Hall of the Three Buddhas, houses large, gold lacquered, wooden statues of Amida, Senju-Kannon ("Kannon with a thousand arms") and Bato-Kannon ("Kannon with a horse head").
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The three deities are regarded as Buddhist manifestations of Nikko's three mountain kami ("Shinto gods") enshrined at Futarasan Shrine.
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Opposite Sanbutsudo stands the temple's treasure house with Buddhist and Tokugawa related exhibits. Shoyoen, a small Japanese style garden, is located next to the treasure house. We didn't enter the garden because doing so would require us to pay a few hundred yen more. Furthermore, judging from the view we saw at the entrace of the garden, it was not the best garden you would come across that we decided to skip on that.
If there is one golden rule that I went against during my time at the shrines and temples, it was this signboard.
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We were made to pay for quite some amount to visit these shrines and temples and yet, they forbade us from taking pictures at almost every main section of the shrines and temples. It was just not right and I wanted to make sure that the entrance fee I forked out was worthy. Hence, I stayed as a true Malaysian by ignoring those signboards and continued taking pictures at these areas. The worst reaction I got when my action was noticed by the authorities was me being instructed to stop taking pictures in those prohibited areas. I just smiled sheepishly and walked away.
But if I were to follow the rules, you would not have seen those pictures, which include the dragon and the Three Buddhas.
~ to be continued ~

14 comments:

ben foo said...

some rules are meant to be followed. nikko IS a world heritage site. if every places are captured into photos and put online, then I think there's no need and no fun for others to visit these places. :)

it's like erm sex. It's nice to see others doing it on video, but i think you'll find more love, more feeling doing it :p lol

calvin said...

@ ben foo:
lols! just when i stopped myself from sounding perverted in my writings, you came out with another anology instead. a clever anology indeed.

points well made. i know i went against the rules, but as far as i am concern, i didn't use the pictures commercially and they are solely kept for my personal collection. besides, not everyone is afford to travel around the world to visit these kind of places and i am just sharing my personal experience here :)

ben foo said...

erm once u put something online it's spread all around the world. worse than u think. :p everyone CAN afford to go travel. it's whether they wanna do it or not:)

Kevin Tan said...

The picture of the dragon is so chun!! horr u broke the rules, a dragon is gonna fly up ur butt

sheryl0202 said...

Thanks for your photos! Keep writing ya..

calvin said...

@ ben foo:
i can't deny that we have no control in the cyber world. hence it is up to the individual to use it in a beneficial way and never misuse it. anyway, i don't think the contents in my blog will spread that far around the world :)

have to agree with you. with airsia, everyone can fly, no? =P

calvin said...

@ kevin tan:
that dragon looked damn nice, isn't it? wait till you see a more chun one in the next entry.

having a dragon flaming into my butt? damn hot la like that. you want a roasted butt arh?

calvin said...

@ sheryl0202:
thanks for dropping by and your compliments :)

ben foo said...

ah well. i dont know society is thinking nowadays. everyone just take things for granted. no wonder not many ppl are enjoying their sex time now. ish.

calvin said...

@ ben foo:
i guess this trend has exist for a while already. but i'm afraid to relate it to sex would be a different context altogether ;)

cl3m` said...

i have to agree with ben, knowingly taking photos in places where they don't allow is just unethical. somethings are just meant to be enjoyed as it is. i paid 20 pounds(at 5000yen, u can go disneyland) to go to the tower of london to see the crown jewels and while it was tempting i did not take any photographs. some things are just meant to be

calvin said...

@ cl3m:
fair enough. i admit that i went against the photography ethics there. having said that, i must say that i do not totally disagree with ben either. i know what the two of you are trying to imply here. once these places are recorded in the form of photographs, i believe they will no longer have the aesthetic value in them. i guess i shall not repeat what i did before this in the future :)

Albert said...

Hi, thanks for the photos!
I visited Nikko recently and I wanted to show my friends what the interior of the temples looked like, as I wasn't allowed to take photos inside. :)

calvin said...

@ albert:
it's my pleasure.
i hope your friends enjoyed the pictures, just like how you did :)