Japan On Ice
Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
144Trip End Ongoing
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The temples and pagodas in Nikko were indeed more elaborate than most of those we had seen in Kyoto and area and were allowing me to fill in some blanks on at least a small piece of Japanese history- the first dude to unite most of Japan's feudal kingdoms was the patriarch of the Toyotomi clan, and was based in Osaka (in the oft destroyed 'indestructible' castle) with temples in the Kyoto area. His son and heir was only five years old when he died, and the Tokugawa family from Edo (now Tokyo) put a permanent end to the brief reign of the Toyotomis after the Osaka siege
The other claim to fame of the temples is one shrine in particular- the "Three Monkeys" sculptures are famous throughout the world for the "see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil" poses. The carved monkeys covering their eyes, ears and mouth respectively, were inspired by the Buddhist teaching that if we do not hear, see or speak evil, we ourselves shall be spared from evil, and the theme was chosen here in the ancient belief that the monkeys would protect the horses from disease.
The population of Nikko is only 90,000 so I'm not sure how a professional hockey team ended up here (vs nearby Greater Tokyo Area with 35.7 million+ people) but they were playing out of a reasonably modern facility and seemed to have quite a presence in town. Apparently Westerners don't often make this particular hockey pilgrimage because the team GM made a point of welcoming us as honoured guests and gave us a pretty good rundown on the team (didn't recognize the name but the goaltender, Yutaka Fukufuji, was with the LA Kings for a cup of coffee)
I'm not sure that Japan will be a hockey threat any time soon but if they could get some of their sumo wrestling guys upright on skates they might be dishing out some world class body checks. And speaking of sumo, we're off to the biggest tournament of the year in Tokyo where DH gets another opportunity to explore her fascination (some might say "problem") with watching big and fat, nearly naked men wrestling with one another.