Oh my god! Oh my god! I’m at the Tōshōgū shrine in Nikkō. Just look at how pretty it is. Check out the detailing. Everywhere. So much to see, so little time. Never mind all the people here. Where are the monkeys? I see some monkeys here. No, no, not the right ones. Aha! There they are. That’s Kikazaru on the left, covering his ears. Iwazaru is in the middle, covering his mouth. Mizaru is on the right, covering his eyes. That makes hear no evil, speak no evil, and see no evil, respectively. And together they make the three wise monkeys, or sanzaru, or sanbiki no saru in Japanese (三猿 sanzaru, 三匹の猿 sanbiki no saru, literally “three monkeys”). Oeh! So excited. True story.

Nikkō (日光 nikkō) is a city the northwest of the Tochigi Prefecture in central Honshū. It is best known for its shrine containing the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康 Tokugawa Ieyasu, 1543-1616), founder of the Tokugawa shogunate. At the shrine, called Tōshōgū, there is an annual samurai procession in the months May and October. It has been a religious center since 782 and houses many temples and shrines in the Nikkō National Park. The park also offers scenic spots such as Lake Chūzenji and Kegon Falls. Nikkō has a metal and a woodworking industry, and has 7 million visitors per year.

Further reading:

“Nikkō” In: Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Kodansha.

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