Welcome back! We took Sunday and Saturday to make an excursion to Nikko. We explored the grounds and proceeded to experience the onsen, or bath house. When we first got to Nikko, I immediately noticed how lush and green the surroundings were. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the enchanting array of stone architecture meshing so naturally with the moss, wildflowers, and trees.
We walked toward the torii, or Shinto gateway shrine and a tour guide approached us. She was very sweet and explained everything in amazing detail. The first torii that we walked through was stone and engineered to be resistant to earthquakes. I found this pretty impressive, as I had actually just had that question on my mind right before she answered it. We walked through the gateway (through the sides of course, as the center is reserved for kami, or gods), and saw a beautiful pagoda that stood five stories tall. She informed us that each roof was the same size so as to prevent rainwater and the elements from falling too heavily on the rest of the pagoda. In another area of the grounds there were three temples; one was for the gods, and the other two were for various types of people. Close to these temples was a less ornate, but equally profound temple. This temple was trimmed with frames of scenes in which monkeys were doing numerous activities. One of these was of three monkeys doing “hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil.” Come to find out, this was actually the origin of this proverb. I was amazed to find this out, as what an old and commonly known proverb it is!
The rest of the grounds was just as stunning, and my classmates and I became truly absorbed into the nature surrounding us. We must have felt a magic in the air, as we were compelled to each get pictures with some of the trees around us. After this, we journeyed on to enjoy the relaxing baths of the onsen, a perfect way to polish off the day.