[Journey description to be added later.]
In Edo it was built the Kidomon gate or barrier gate here. Worshiper [sic] who visited the temple and the shrine were tightly checked about their resident and their name. On the left [...] there was the Banya or guard station or putting up notice board. This was the most important place as the entrance of NIKKO. From the records of the past, we can know a lot of things like this.
We witnessed a ceremony at the next shrine on the self-guided tour, Togashu, the place where the Three Wise Monkeys and other monkeys were depicted as carvings, reliefs, on the wall. When we walked quietly in -- “Be silent! No photographs!” said the notice -- the ceremony was in full swing, the priest chanting and occasionally shouting fiercely as he banged sticks on metal objects at a blazing fire into which he threw the sticks one by one, after making strange hand gestures. It was a very serious and magician like, repetitive performance. At the end of each sequence he waved a fan briefly at the flames and threw something on the fire to make it crackle.
At another part of the Togashu Shrine I took my shoes off to enter the temple and had two sticks clapped at me as I stood in line to see its altar. The polished floor was very cold under my stocking feet, part of the penance? At the exit another blue-robed monk shook little bells, hoping to sell me one. I also went barefoot into the temple at the Futarasen Shrine, where a pyramid of those expensive $3 apples stood on the altar as an offering to the Buddha, with mysterious, golden chambers behind a screen, not all of which I could see. Metal sculptures of cranes and lotus plants decorated the adjacent tables. Very beautiful. Best of all I liked the many steep flights of stone steps up to each shrine and their outer walls with the ancient stone pillars standing in rows with their pedestals in the snow. They reminded me of dovecotes. Pilgrims had laid pebbles on some.
To my disappointment the mountains were hidden from view behind the hills at the temple area, but we caught the No. 7 World Heritage Bus and saw them again in the sinking sun from the main part of town, where we ate an early supper or late lunch of mango lassi, chicken saag and an enormous naan bread apiece, famished, in a restaurant run by a man from Bangladesh who told me he found Nikko a bit too cold and quiet after Tokyo. He had only lived in Nikko for a month. I imagined it would be livelier during the spring and summer when the tourists started to arrive.