Day 201

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Day 201… [**note from yesterday, forgot to mention. One shrine has a steel dove with the last remaining flame from the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima burning inside it… apparently rescued from a still burning house back in the day when looking for survivors and kept alive via gas burners and enshrined. Now, back to day 201**] Today we catch the train to Nikko (approx. 2 hrs). On our train journey to Nikko, we have a chance to appreciate the spectacular countryside that makes Japan such a fabulous destination. However as my usual morning personality is barely awake and there is uncomfortable leg room, coupled with some serious napping… I don’t really get to appreciate that. However, moving on… Nikko has been a sacred site since the middle of the 8th century and the shrines and temples dotted throughout the area are inspiring evidence of the city’s glory. A visit to Toshugu Shrine in particular is definitely on the cards. The mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the warlord who controlled all of Japan and whose shogunate lasted 250 years, the shrine contrasts with the traditional minimalist style commonly used throughout Japan. Instead, every corner of this monument is covered in intricate gold-leaf and lacquerwork, paintings and patterns. Aaand of course I do not get to see that as it is under renovations. However the temple of the crying dragon is open and offers a look at a truly beautiful shrine with intricate giant dragon ceiling mural. It gets its name from the stunning acoustics it has. In 1 spot, 2 sticks sounds like 2 sticks. Move 1 meter and those 2 sticks echo in a circular circuit around the temple, giving us the name. Quite impressive. Our ryokan in Nikko has shared facilities, including an AWESOME deep and hot bath/spa/onsen  and is located within walking distance of the world heritage area.
After check in, my group manages to utterly loose me (yep… not the other way around… I was told to be at a certain spot and when there they had moved on… good work tour guide! Sigh…) so I go solo. First I find a working atm. Then i enter the heritage site to find a cool overgrown and closed temple and shrine, where i have a very 1 sided hilarious chat with an old japanese guy on Nikko being (his only english words) “number 1”, then pick a random path where I find Robin my tour mate. He joins me for a side quest up some steep steps and a sacred hill festooned with little shrines and temples. Then its back to the hotel for dinner.

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