Ken Chin-Purcell

June 1, 2023

Japan day 17.2: …until you’ve seen Nikko

On the way out of the big Tosho-gu complex was this five level pagoda. From the base up the levels represent Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Void. We were wondering if the four elements theme (minus the Zen Void/Ether) had a common origin with Aristotle’s four elements.


The natural suroundings are serene and majestic.  There are babbling brooks flowing in gutters on the sides of this promenade, making the sight, sound and smell a pleasure.


At this point our stomachs overruled seeing more temples and we headed into an adjacent business district. Yuba (the surface skin that forms while making tofu) seemed to be a local Nikko specialty. Lunch for me was folded sheets of yuba fried and served with veggies in a sauce over rice. Yummy!

Water was flowing everywhere, along streets and pathways. We went for a quiet walk along the river instead of back up into temple-ville. 


On the way through town was this street, where each house had an old hydrant, “stone cup”, out front.

The river trail was a nice getaway. One section was lined with stone Buddhas, and each one had a red crocheted hat and bib. Even if a statue had weathered to a nub it still got a cap and gown. I thought of the network of people, perhaps informal, keeping the Buddhas clothed and the grounds neat.


The river had a cascade called “The Abyss”. Here’s the view from a pedestrian swing bridge. There were only a few other walkers on the trail. Nikko on a weekday is not only kekko, but fairly quiet once away from the school groups.

Here is the 1920’s train station, in my best Wes Anderson photo style.


Once back in Tokyo we walked across Shinjuku to this yakitori restaurant. The grill cook was framed in a window behind the counter.


They insisted we get a omakase set (maybe a gaijin thing), which was fine except they didn’t give us any of the more adventurous bits, like heart, neck or liver. Ah well. What they did give us (thigh, tail, wing…) was delicious.


The meal finished with a meat ball and a very orange egg yolk as a sauce. Then a spoon sized nugget of rice to mop up the last of the sauce. Mmmm.