Sunday, 10 March 2013

Shinkyo Bridge - The Sacred Bridge, Nikko

The last thing we wanted to do in Nikko before hit the road is go and gawk at the Shinkyo Bridge (Sacred Bridge). The bridge is a heritage listed site and is part of Futarasan complex. It has been rebuilt many times over the centuries but it has retained the current design since 1636. Originally only messengers of the imperial court or royalty could use it. Legend has it that in 766 a priest and his followers were stopped by the fast flowing waters of the Daiya River. He prayed and the god Jinja-Daiou appeared who released two snakes which then formed a rainbow bridge.
Mae comes everywhere

It's only a couple bucks (Y300) for an entrance ticket because when push comes to shove it is only a bridge and what can you do, cross it? Sort of. It is closed at one end. Probably keep off the freeloaders. We were wondering if they open the other end when a couple of monks, or priests, turned up to pray or invoke a blessing. Georgia was amused by they way they threw their hands in the air and clapped. The monks wandered off and I didn't think much more about it until one of the caretakers seemed to be indicating to us we should get off the bridge. I hadn't thought the ticket we bought had a time limit to it. Maybe, I thought, only a certain number of visitors were allowed on at the one time? Then I saw the wedding party.
The end of the bridge leads to the trail up to Futarasan

We were being moved out of the way so a wedding ceremony could take place on the bridge. The priest blessed the happy couple couple and their wedding party and then they all trooped on to the bridge. The bride and groom were both dressed in traditional wedding kimonos. I don't know if they're actually called kimonos when it comes to wedding garb, but we'll go with that. They shuffled slowly across the bridge while the priest prayed and gesticulated then they exited off the other end where they had more photos taken.
Love messages?

It was all pretty interesting to see and I guess it is something you don't see every day unless you live in Nikko and frequent Shinkyo Bridge. I doubt you'd see many Japanese wedding parties holding a ceremony on the Nowra bridge.
Monks doing monkly things before the happy couple turn up.

Georgia was sitting on a log watching as the wedding party went through the ceremonial duties before marching on to the bridge. A couple of women in the wedding party dropped out of the queue to squat down in front of Georgia to say hello. It was amusing to us that Georgia was distracting them from their ceremony. I know I've mentioned it before but Georgia attracts a lot of attention. Even buying entrance tickets to the bridge took longer than what would be a normal transaction because the ticket seller wanted to say hello to Georgy. We are flattered that our little girl attracts so much attention but it is sometimes embarrassing. She takes it all in her stride but it can be a little bewildering for her.
Hooray. Just like the monks.

Unfortunately we'd messed up our timing to get the most spectacular photos of the bridge. We should have come here the previous afternoon to get the setting sun lighting up the bridge. So we're stuck with the flat morning light. Still, it is quite a pretty bridge in any light, even if it isn't glowing a brilliant red with in the afternoon sun. If we had made it the previous afternoon we probably would have missed seeing the wedding. Sometimes one experience can trump another.

Wedding party.

Priest doing priestly things.

Georgia attracting attention from wedding party.

Time to hit the road.

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