More from Nikko
The stone steps between Shinkyo and Rinnoji were amazing in the snow and completely devoid of people.
I could have sat staring at the three, giant, gold-lacquered, wooden statues of Amida, Senju-Kannon (“Kannon with a thousand arms”), and Bato-Kannon (“Kannon with a horse head”) all day were it not for the fact that it was extremely cold so we wanted to keep moving as much as possible. The place is probably crawling with tourists on a normal day, but it was quite peaceful as we were the only ones enjoying the view.
Later the next day (February 3) we participated in a setsubun festival of sorts in front of the Sanbutsudo where the above three Buddha are housed. Japanese celebrities and priests from various temples and shrines in Nikko tossed all sorts of things to the crowd as you can see in the short video I took below. We stood in the back and ended up catching “only” a kit-kat and two balls. We redeemed the balls for prizes (a bag of “goodies,” including laundry detergent and saran wrap, and a gift certificate for a night and two meals for two at a Nikko hotel).
You can hear the priest tell the people to be careful to not cause injury near the end of the video. It did get a little crazy. Some people came away with giant bags of snacks, prizes, and candy. It was sort of like an efficient trick-or-treating session, without all of the walking.