Nikko, a town north of Tokyo is famous for its shrines (are you detecting a theme here?) and just a short train ride will take you from the bustle of Tokyo to a more idyllic setting.
Throughout this trip we saw many temples and shrines, terms I had previously used interchangeably although in reality they are quite different.
A shrine is a Shinto religious building complex, Shinto being a indiginous Japanese belief system that is more than a religion – with no clear founder, Shinto appears to be a ritualized worship method that also provides a lens through which to view the modern world. A temple is a Buddhist worship facility. Quite different, although you will often find shrines and temples occupying the same space (the complex in Asakusa being a good example).
We completed one of the shrines just before a major precession was to start which added to the excitement factor.
We returned to Tokyo in the afternoon and found an okonomiyaki restaurant close to our Asakusa hotel. More on those in the coming days when we are in Hiroshima.
Next, our trip outside the Tokyo metropolitan area and into the Izu peninsula for our stay at a ryjokan, a type of traditional Japanese inn that has existed since the eighth century A.D. during the Keiun period, in which the oldest hotel in the world, Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, was created in 705 A.D. Ours was somewhat more recent 🙂
Natto, fermented soybeans are something you’ll likely see at times – our Tokyo hotel had them in small pots that you could enjoy with your breakfast. I think they need some wasabi to be more interesting.