Spring 2005
Spring 2006

Around Nikko Shrines and Temples

The "cleansing fountains" found outside every temple vary a lot.  This one was pretty old fashioned.  Before you go into any temple you are supposed to take the laddle, and pour wome water over your hands (and rinse your mouth if you still don't know about germs) to cleanse yourself.

A traditional Japanese instrument called the koto.

The entrance to a reception room during one of the festivals.  Ummm... those are Japanese flags if you didn't know.

Shinkyo Bridge is the most photographed sight in Nikko, and probably in the top 10 for all of Japan, but it isn't so nice in reality and you can not use it.  I wish they hadn't allowed the main road to run by it on 2 sides.  It just makes for a noisy, smelly intersection.  The story goes that a god turned 2 snakes into this bridge to help some priest civilize this area.

Geisha are female performers of the arts.  They are trained from a young age in everything from music, to dance, to tea ceremonies.  The sad thing about them is that they traditionally could not become true Geisha without a rich man's sponsorship (and yes, that meant they had to sell their virginity, which is extremely valuable in Japanese culture).  So girls who are training to become Geisha can not yet be called Geisha.  They are called Maiko.  Supposedly the prostitution aspect does not go on anymore, but that's just what the law says.  It's a very secret kind of society, so you'll never know... This girl was at a festival in Nikko.

All the Maiko's hang out in these carts.  They are split-level with what could be a sleeping area upstairs.  They are always manned by a jolly fat guy (which usually means he's rich in Japan).  I didn't ask anyone, but this might be in reference to the above mentioned tradition.

Plenty of gold in the rich temples of Japan.

To me this looks almost Tibetan.  Nice little temple or meeting hall of some sort in Nikko.