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


Raine said...

Wow, you get to visit Japan for the rest of the year :D Fabulous opportunity. Visiting places like these will positively give me goosebumps. If only teleportation is possible. (lolz how many centuries will that happen) It seemed you have to take care on the way you walk and give reverence to these places.

Carver said...

Wonderful shots from Japan. Great choice for the theme.

YTSL said...

Hi Raine --

Not the rest of the year. Went in September last year -- so only have until August to go at least once more!

And ya, teleportation would be great. Actually, I'd "happily" settle for an individual jetpack! ;b

Hi Carver --

Thanks -- glad you like my choice of photos and focus for this week's theme. :)

Annie said...

I love your photos and choice for both themes. Puppet Ponyo is cute! That's great that you got that visa.

keeyit said...

Yeah, nice shot.. Similar to my theme too..

Btw, yes, I am from Malaysia~

eyesonme2world said...

Nice theme for this saturday..

Sue said...

I would love to visit Japan one day. My father was fortunate enough to visit several times during his life, and just loved it. :)

YTSL said...

Hi Annie --

Thanks for liking what you see here -- and your nice words re Puppet Ponyo. :)

Hi keeyit --

Guess we both went for the religious and Asian kind of symbolic... ;b

And ya, I did figure you're from -- and based in -- Malaysia. :)

Hi eyesonme2world --

Which theme did you particularly like -- symbolic or power? ;b

Hi Sue --

I hope your wish to visit Japan comes true and that you'll enjoy your visit when you do go there. :)

Gattina said...

As usual a very interesting post !

Trekcapri said...

Hi YTSL, that is cool that you have a multi visit visa. I didn't realize you could get something like that. I enjoyed reading your post and about the Toshugu Shrine. Amazing what and how much it took to build it. And I just love little puppet Ponyo.

Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos and your experiences there. Have a wonderful weekend.

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

Lucky Ponyo!
~ Let's 'play' next weekend at The Saturday PhotoHunt.

A. @ A Changing Life said...

The carving (I assume it is carving) and decoration shown in the second and third shots is simply amazing.

I'm going to have to acquire a Ponyo somewhere. :)

YTSL said...

Hi Gattina --

Thank you!

Hi Trekcapri --

It's interesting as well as cool re the multi visit visa. My previous visas were all single visit affairs. I went through the same visa application procedures as previously -- but just got different results this last time around!

And I love that you love Puppet Ponyo (too). :)

Hi Sandi --

Teehee! :)

Hi A. --

Those carvings and decorations are quite something, aren't they? And when you behold the quantity as well as quality there...

And good luck with your getting a Ponyo of your own! :)

ewaffle said...

Perfect photo layout. Scrolling through the pictures before clicking on them to see them in detail and suddenly Ponyo pops up at the bottom of the last one--a surprising and funny design.

YTSL said...

Hi ewaffle --

I'm glad this entry was aesthetically to your liking and trust that Puppet Ponyo's appearance put a smile on your face. :)

eastcoastlife said...

The shrine is so beautiful!! And to walk on the grounds of the powerful shoguns, that's awesome! I watched the Japanese dramas on shoguns and have vowed to visit one of these castles when I go Japan.

Living in HK, it is cheaper and faster to take a flight to Japan, right?

YTSL said...

Hi EastCoastLife --

Er... Nikko doesn't have a castle... but it does have a palace (though not of a shogun!). ;b

And yes, I'd imagine it's cheaper and faster to fly to Japan from Hong Kong than, says, Singapore as Hong Kong is closer to Japan than Singapore is. :)

Emilie said...

Photo hunt seems like a great way to look for/use existing images you have accumulated. I should set myself some challenges like that.

YTSL said...

Hi Emilie --

Yup re Photo Hunt -- and that's one attraction to my taking part in this meme/these memes. Maybe you should join in too? :b