Saturday, 2 August 2014

Nikko and Temples

             On Monday we took a long journey by train out to Nikko, where the first Shogun built enormous shrines and temples among the mountains about nine hundred years ago. Clouds were shooting across the sky, and although it threatened rain nothing much ever fell. Except for the odd splat of a drop from the trees, which were mostly gigantic cedars and surrounded the temples.
The first drawing is of the stairs at the entrance to the temple area in the forest. It's across from a beautiful river. The restaurant in the second drawing is set on the other side of the bridge. It's a deep red in reality. Red and green are the colours of Nikko. The stairs were absolutely enchanting. They run away under the shadows of the great cedars from the bright roadside, and the shrine gate you can glimpse is like the statue from Spirited Away, promising magic beyond.
              The other one is from the top of the stairs near the shrine of the sleeping cat. I can't imagine a more badass deity. If I was a monster, I would go nowhere near a sleeping cat-protected house. There's no knowing what it would do if it woke up.
             Finally, it's the bottom of one of the eldest cedars in the park. Every ancient stone was covered in moss, which tiny leaves and ferns erupting from the gaps. There was an incredible sense of the weight of empty space around the gates, temples and trees. It was magical.

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