Halloween in Nikko Japan Fall 2008

November 8, 2008 · Print This Article

After five and a half years in Tokyo, Japan, I finally made my first visit to Nikko.  I had heard about Nikko many times, as it’s one of the premier tourist destinations in all of Japan, as well as being a World Heritage Site.  I heard of monkeys running wild, and even taking baths in outdoor hot springs.  I was expecting a huge hub-bub.  Of course, like most things, my expectations and reality were nowhere near matching.  I found Nikko to be a small, reserved sanctuary of temples and shrines tucked away amongst a forest of tall trees.  And no monkeys.

I expected Nikko town to match its reputation as a major tourist attraction with the coinciding tourist trap type places, but instead I was very surprised to find the area between Nikko train station and the temples themselves to be nothing more than a humble kilometer of road with a few modest shops on them, all of which were nearly closed by 8pm!  

Aya and I drove up early Friday morning having both taken the day off.  And why not, it was Halloween after all!  This allowed us to almost have the whole of Nikko to ourselves, relatively.  We could explore and ponder around the most popular spots as well as the lesser heralded ones without having to shuffle past dozens of other observers.  In a sense this almost made Nikko feel lonely, which may be an intrinsic feeling to the place no matter how many people were there.  Whichever is the case, it made for an unusual, yet somehow appropriate place to spend Halloween.  

There were no people in traditional Halloween costumes, but there were many figures around warding off evil.  Pictured above are the monkeys we all learned about in grade school that heard no, nor spoke any, or even saw any evil.  

Aya pointed out and explained many of the intricate details of the temples and shrines, and the meanings behind the patterns carved into their walls as well as what guardian statues represented what.  Her knowledge and explanations greatly enriched my experience of Nikko, that otherwise would have been just all ignant, but pleasant, observing.  

If you can, go to Nikko on a week day and spend some quiet moments with it.  I was glad I had such a chance.

A Japanese couple takes in the autumn foliage in Nikko A minor shrine in Rinnoji Temple area of Nikko Sanbutsudo of the Rinnoji Temple area of Nikko Japan
Aya approaches Sanbutsudo of the Rinnoji Temple area of Nikko Japan Five Story Pagoda (36m high) near Ishidorii Gate in Nikko Japan The broad walkway near Sanbutsudo in Nikko
A stone monolith in Nikko Note the reversed pattern on the pillars, this was an intentional imperfection The famous monkeys of
The sculptor never saw a real elephant, so that's why these elephants look as they do One of the many intricate carvings on the shrines of Nikko
Another view of Yomeimon Gate Yomeimon Gate, so named because you can look at it all day without getting tired because of its beauty and detail A gate to Rinnoji Temple area
Some of the details of the elaborae Honden main hall A large room of Honden main hall in the Rinnoji Temple area of Nikko Honden main hall in the Rinnoji Temple area
Niten Gate of Taiyuinbyo I believe this is Jigendoh Hall in the Rinnoji Temple area Through this gate leads to Okusha treasure tower
I was drawn to this staircase in Nikko Stone path through an old forest of tall trees in Nikko Tall trees tower all over Nikko
Two come from one in Nikko Kamijinko sacred warehouse of Nikko Japan More buildings in Nikko of unknown purpose (to me)
Near the Okusha treasure tower A gargoyle inside the Yomeimon Gate area Guardian on the gate to Rinnoji Temple
The guardians of Rinnoji Temple don't have the fiercest posture. This guardian of Rinnoji Temple looks a little more intimidating A close-up of a building in the Rinnoji Temple group
The first buildings of the Rinnoji Temple area    




15 Responses to “Halloween in Nikko Japan Fall 2008”

  1. on November 8th, 2008 12:44 AM

    A Nikko Japan Halloween…

    At long last a trip to Nikko, on Halloween no less. Included in the post are a photo gallery of the temples, shrines and statues of Nikko, as well as a brief video. Nikko was much different than I was expecting, based on what I heard about it the pas…

  2. on November 8th, 2008 9:17 AM

    I went to Nikko some ten plus years ago for a day trip and enjoyed it. But you are right it is a quiet place that I think encourages contemplation.

    Hubby and I are thinking of making a short trip there this month as he hasn’t been. Last time I was there it was summertime and I am looking forward to seeing it n the fall.


    Jason Collin Reply:

    If you go be sure and check out the nearby waterfalls and also Senjogahara Moor!


  3. on November 8th, 2008 9:32 AM

    Been to Nikko myself about 2, maybe 3 times. All times it was a great experience. The people there were so much friendlier than in Tokyo and the crowds were reasonable (maybe because it was in the winter though).


    Jason Collin Reply:

    Maybe Nikko just isn’t as crowded as we might think it to be considering it’s fame as a tourist site? It is a bit hard to get to.


  4. on November 9th, 2008 11:56 PM

    […] Aya and I drove along a country road after leaving Nikko, to my left a vast expanse opened up, and from very first sight I was dazzled and drawn to […]

  5. on November 11th, 2008 1:27 AM

    I love Nikko. I am also surprised at how plain and rundown the main street of Nikko is. Surprising for such a popular tourist spot. That main street could be amazing if it was redeveloped somehow.


    Jason Collin Reply:

    Thanks Tornadoes, I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who was surprised by who run of the mill the surrounding area of Nikko is. It is truly a buzz free area.


  6. on November 11th, 2008 11:51 PM

    Did you go to the ????? (“Edo Village”)?
    It’s the Japanese version of those “Western World” places in America. Samurai, ninja and geisha walking around.


    Jason Collin Reply:

    We drove by Edo Village, but it seemed a bit hokey, and we were excited to get on to the temples, so we didn’t visit it.

    Did you visit Edo Village?


  7. on November 12th, 2008 2:27 AM

    I’ve been to Nikko a few times.
    The first time I went there, I visited “Edo-Mura”.

    It was years ago…when I first came to Japan. I enjoyed it.


  8. on November 13th, 2008 1:31 PM

    Wow, I was there one day after you were and there were about 15,000 more people- you’re so lucky you could see everything during a weekday!


    Jason Collin Reply:

    Thanks for the comment. I suspected that might be the case, so I’m glad I took the day off on Friday to go! The minor financial loss was worth the peaceful time around the temples.


  9. on November 14th, 2008 3:15 PM

    I live down the road, you guys shoulda stopped by and said hi.


  10. on May 26th, 2017 6:52 AM

    I really like reading through a post that can make people think. Also, thank you for allowing me to comment!


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