A&E on the World Heritage Train East 2009 travel blog

Shoyoen Garden

Shoyoen Garden, note the carp...

Shoyoen Garden

Shoyoen Garden

Shoyoen Garden

Rinno-ji Temple

Rinno-ji Temple

Shinkyo Bridge

Five-storied pagoda

Tosho-gu Shrine

Tosho-gu Shrine

Taiyuin-byo Shrine

Taiyuin-byo Shrine


Up early and off on the train to Nikko, a mountain town full of World Heritage sights about two hours from Tokyo. The first thing I did when I got here was change my tickets for tomorrow for earlier ones, all carried out in Japanese! (Thankfully the Korean that was confusing me so much is beginning to fade).

It was a bit overcast for photos, but I went straight to the first of two beautiful museum/galleries today, both in stunning buildings in gorgeous surroundings and with spiritually uplifting art. The Shoyoen Garden of the Rinno-ji Temple Treasure Hall is the most beautiful garden I have ever seen in my life, and I`m sure it is just the beginning as far as Japan is concerned. And then exploring lots of different old temples and shrines scattered over the forested mountainside, and such magnificent trees! Korea needs some big trees. The Rinno-ji Temple was the best of the many temples, it was very atmospheric, reminding me a bit of the Potala in Lhasa, at least partly as it was semi-dark. And it had the loudest, most resonant bell.

There were a lot of tourists though, even though its mid-week (as I said, we are only 2 hours from Tokyo), so I did go off-piste at one point, where I came across a snake about four foot long, longest I`ve ever seen on the loose. My hosts tell me it was a `good` snake, i.e. not poisonous. I am staying in a sort of B&B (what the Japanese call a 'minshuku', though in my case without the food). I am sleeping on the floor in a tatami mat room with sliding doors, hosts who never stop bowing, etc, all very ethnic, though to be frank I prefer the anonymity of business-type hotels. I got my watch mended again as well, I keep breaking it getting my rucksacks on and off.



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