Ah, the post I've been procrastinating a bit on. Nikko is the sort of place it takes a lifetime to appreciate. The cliche about it taking a thousand words to equal a picture (which I never quite agree with, being more of a words girl)? It would take a thousand pictures to show you Nikko, and even then you'd miss something. I only took a hundred, and I'm not sure what the best order is, since we'd pass the same spot multiple times and I'd take a picture of a different angle every time. The overall layout makes me think of nothing more than C.S. Lewis' "Further Up and Further In." You are always passing through another lavish gate, climbing another set of stairs. When you climb a couple hundred steps to reach the shogun's tomb you go deeper into the forest until you reach a place simpler and peaceful, stone blocks coated with moss, only a dark metal urn and a statue of a stork perched on a turtle, a symbol of symbiosis. So I'll divide my post there, the journey up and the return, when we looked around carefully trying to catch anything we might have missed. We definitely did - we can only hope to go back some day.
Everyone makes a big deal over the three "No Evil" monkeys but we were delighted to find they're actually in the company of several others, who display less obvious morals:
The carvings are incredible. Though I'm not sure adding gold paint to eyes and teeth of white tigers was wise:
That is the tiny carving with fame that belies its size, the "nemuri neko" or sleeping cat, representing peace after hard work "chasing mice away."
And speaking of peace:
Here even the tourists fell quiet for a moment.