Monday, June 18, 2012

Japan Day Two: Nikko Temples and Shrines

Wood carving. Toushougu Shrine, Nikko
We took the express train to Nikko from Asakusa, arriving around noon. From there, the obligatory visit to the World Heritage shrines and temples site. Again, it was rainy and overcast and not great for bird photos (except perhaps for this one of an exceptionally friendly kijibato [oriental turtledove])
Kijibato, Nikko, Japan
but I was hearing mountain birds everywhere among the huge trees that ringed the shrines and temples (and stopping every four feet or so to grab a sound sample, a test of my son's patience). 

Everyone knows the famous (hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil) monkey carvings

but I (of course) was struck by the multitude of carvings of birds, from cranes
to kosagi (little egrets)
to exceptionally lively and detailed oshidori (mandarin ducks).
After our shrines and temples visit we took the long and harrowing bus trip up into the mountains of Oku-Nikko. (My first sight when rounding one of the hairpin turns on the Iroha stretch was a tour bus on its side on the bottom of the hill--they don't always make it!).

We stayed at the delightful Nikko Lakeside Hotel, right on the shores of Lake Chuzenji.
 During the rainy season, the lake is particularly mystical. Especially with uguisu (Japanese bush warbler) singing in the background.

Here's a taste.

And what's this? A hakusekirei (white wagtail).
Hakusekirei, Nikko, Japan
I would see (a lot) more of them.

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