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tæt på Shimodaki, Tochigi (Japan)
The hiking segment starts at Tobu-Nikko train station, follows the "Nihon Romantic Highway" (the high street), then comes to the ancient Shinkyo Bridge at the entrance to the Shrine area. Crossing Shinkyo Bridge is said to confer good luck. There's no general admission fee although the Bridge and most shrines, gardens, and museums have a small admission fee to cross or go inside.
Many important schools of Japanese Buddhism are represented. Teachings were passed from China in ancient times, then branched out and further developed in Japan. Rinno-ji Temple Museum contains hand copies of the important Chapter 2 (Hoben or Expedient Means Chapter) of the Lotus Sutra, in gold ink on blue scrolls. This teaching is also venerated in a 6'th century Chinese Lotus School (Tientai) which migrated to Japan as the Tendai School in the mid-late 8'th Century AD.
The track includes a 35-minute segment on a small local train, from the hot spring town of Kinugawa-onsen to the terminus station of Tobu-Nikko. There may be a transfer and change of platform at Nikko depending on which train. Alternatively, regular bus service and special tourism buses connect Kinugawa-onsen with Tobu-Nikko.
Track includes the local diesel train to access the stop at Tobu-Nikko, nearest stop to the Shrines. We boarded at the hot spring resort town of Kinugawa-onsen. There is a critical stop at the Nikko Station, where some trains reverse and continue directly to Tobu-Nikko, whereas local all-stop trains probably require getting down, changing to another platform, and waiting for the next Tobu-Nikko train.
Continue by train from Nikko Town to the terminal station at Tobu-Nikko. Direct trains reverse direction at Shimoimachi Station (Nikko). All-stop trains probably require a train transfer here.
Terminal (end of the line) station, and start of the hike to the Shrines. Special tourist buses are also available in the plaza in front of the station, and these stop and important sites around the Shrine area.
The High Street (Main St). This surely developed on the historical pilgrimage route to the shrines. Interesting shops, coffee and tea, a few restaurants along the way. A larger group of shops and Japanese restaurants at the far (WNW) end, approaching the bridge and Shrine Entrance.
A sacred ancient bridge provided access to the Shrines. Now there is a parallel road bridge. The original bridge can be crossed for a small fee, and is said to bring good luck. The Shrine area is accessed directly across the river, to the north of the bridge, up an ancient flight of stairs.
Museum (no photos allowed) contains hand copies of Chapter 2 (the Hoben or Expedient Means Chapter) of the Lotus Sutra, in gold ink on blue scrolls. This was no surprise given the Temple has links to Jukaku (Ennin Master) who is said to have restored it in the 8'th or 9'th Century. Jukaku was a disciple of Dengyo (767-822) who brought the teaching of the Chinese Tientai School to Japan, thereby making the Lotus Sutra the basis for the original Japanese Tendai School. Sage Nichiren emerged from this line in the 12'th Century to start a new popular Japanese school. This heritage has an egalitarian spirit, a path to enlightenment for laypersons, in the real world, and in their present forms.
Admission to the Museum and Garden was definitely worth it.
Warm milky sake available at a side kiosk, good on a winter day.
This Shrine has a very different character compared to the others. A small heated pavilion offers snacks and warm sake.
thesaved track proceeds part way up a trail to waterfalls. This continues up a long flight of stairs, and onward to the NW for a kilometer or more. We did not proceed to the waterfalls due to the winter snow and ice on the stairs.
A very contrasting and conflicting belief system to that of Rinno-ji. Interesting that such diverse schools are side by side in apparent harmony. This temple has intricate and elegant artworks and architecture. Admission fee to enter the grounds.