Saturday, March 10, 2012
Symbolic and Power (This week's Photo Hunt themes)
In the last six months or so, thanks to the convenience that has come with having been issued a one-year multiple visits Japan visa, I have paid two visits to the Land of the Rising Sun. In early 2012, two friends living elsewhere in the world and I got together for an Okinawa rendezvous. A few months before, I had gone on my own to Tokyo and points nearby, including the sacred space(s) of Nikko.
The city of Nikko is the gateway to an area of considerable natural beauty, much of which lies within the borders of Nikko National Park. On this visit, however, my focus was checking out cultural sights -- with the Toshugu Shrine that is Nikko's most famous attraction being on the very top of my "must see" list.
Built as a mausoleum for the second head of the ruling Tokugawa shogunate, Tokugawa Hidetada, for his super powerful father, Ieyasu, whose last will and testament expressed his desire to be enshrined and rest forever in Nikko to serve as a guardian of Japan, and further expanded in the reign the third Tokugawa shogun, Iemitsu, the Toshugu Shrine was a building project that involved the construction by 4,540,000 people of 35 buildings (many of them lavishly decorated) in 17 months at a cost whose contemporary equivalent has been estimated as amounting to 40 billion yen.
Some four centuries on, there is no doubting the symbolic power of the place, then and now. And there also is little doubting that the Toshogu Shrine stands as testimony to the power, symbolic and otherwise, possessed by the Tokugawa Shogunate, especially during the rule of the first three men who headed it.
For those who think that the actual tomb of Tokugawa Ieyasu looks on the modest side, do consider that what's visible in the photo at the very top of today's entry for both Sandi's and Gattina's Photo Hunts lies in a physically elevated area deep within the shrine grounds -- and that to get to it, one first must climb a number of steps as well as pass by many other structures (all of them undoubtedly worked on by master craftsmen) like the ones in this entry's two middle photos.
So no wonder Puppet Ponyo looks on the bewildered and overwhelmed side there -- and this even though at that point of our visit, we hadn't even been through the middle compound of that pretty sizable shrine! ;O