Taking of the beauty and grandeur of nature, no place comes to mind quite like Nikko. The place offers some simply awe-inspiring views and immersion in a natural world that once covered this planet. I don’t just look at the places and events taking place there- I feel them. They make me more alive, too. Though I may have posted some of these earlier, here they are with a little more explanation of how I felt to see them. I really wish more people would learn to appreciate nature. I don’t mean just worrying about the state of the environment for people, which I consider a form of egotism (however enlightened it may be), but a concern for the planet and life on it in and of itself, valuing more than just the human species, which are in a sense it’s custodians. I believe such thoughts are sometimes called ‘deep ecology’ and get criticised for their lofty, trans-human aims, but if you don’t aim high, your arrows are bound to fall short.
Anyway, I digress, but the point is that I don’t want these just to be pretty pictures, or to think of these places just in terms of their beauty. We should all work together to protect the Earth we live on, and a first step on this path is overcoming the cultural and linguistic barriers that have held us back from co-operating for so long. So let me take you on a little tour of Deep Nikko (‘Oku Nikko’), from the bus ride onwards, in the winter. Oku Nikko is the protected, national park area, whereas the area nearer the station is filled with cultural treasures, as well as some less dramatic natural ones. I plan on making another post about Autumn when I usually go for the gorgeous colours).
The first thing is to get the bus from the station, to or past Chuzenjiko lake. The view from the bus is magnificent and a good reason to go to Nikko in the first place. It is a steep and winding road up and over the mountains. This year, I went once by bus and once with friends by car.
Next you will find yourself at the lake itself. I would generally go straight to Kegon Falls by foot from here, or ride the bus further, as the lake itself isn’t so interesting. But in the middle of winter, the rocks near the shore were covered with amazing icicles. It was freezing cold to photograph, right by the windy lake as it was, but the sights were quite primal Nature at it’s essence, with no filters in between. As always, it surprises me how beautifully designed everything is, even the icicles, far from being mere frozen water randomly forming, have intricate, fractal-like designs. Randomness is a human idea, not a real, existing natural phenomenon was my mantra, as I witnessed beautiful fractals emerge from the complex combination of forces.
Next, here is Kegon Falls, where the vertically-falling water makes even more intricate designs. I spent some time here by myself photographing in wonder at it all. It was like a great painting, or cathedral, or both. Of course, it also depends on how you see it. To that extent, nature is like a mirror. The waterfall itself is infamous for suicides, with one famous writer saying he wanted to escape into the infinity of the water-fields. Fortunately, guard rails and the like make this harder to do now.