After the excitement of our first ever bullet train ride we arrive in the small town of Nikko.
Nikko itself is a fairly average Japanese town, nothing too unusual (EXCEPT IT’S IN JAPAN!)
We’re actually heading to Nikko National Park, a scenic place of natural beauty and ornate shrines.
We meander through the town until we reach one of the first tourist hot spots.
The red bridge across the swollen river at the gateway to Nikko National Park is Shinkyo – The Sacred Bridge.
It crosses the Daiya River and belongs to the Futarasan Shrine and is known as one of the three most beautiful bridges in Japan.
The bridge was registered as World Heritage in December 1999. Shinkyo measures 28 meters long, 7.4 meters wide, and stands 10.6 meters above the Daiya River.
After admiring the striking red structure for a while we head onward to our destination.
It’s a grey day but that only seems to make Nikko even more mysterious and lush.
Ancient stone shrines are coated with verdant green moss and twists of paper wishes adorn the trees.
Before we reach the first shrine, its presence is signalled by the obligatory wooden stalls selling good luck charms and amulets.
Certain amulets are known as omamori (お守り) They contain a small prayer inside a decorative silky cloth, they are stamped with the site’s name, and hang from a thread.
They’re for putting on or in your phone, purse, wallet, home wall or pocket.
Above and below you can also see detail of a kumade, a wide rake made of bamboo, traditionally used to sweep the fallen leaves or grains.
During the Edo period, people started decorating kumade with good luck charms and selling them at shrines, to help “raking in” success, wealth, safety and happiness.
Below are some more multi coloured omamori, just waiting to provide wealth, wellbeing or other good luck to a shrine goer.
We’ve reached the magical site of Nikko now so prepare to be inundated with decorative shrines and mossy details!