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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Nikko Is Nippon

Last week while Matthew was in Japan, he sent me this photo he took at Nasushiobara JR (Japan Rail) regular train station waiting to catch a train south of Nishinasuno and from there either a taxi or a bus back to Ohtawara-shi where he is staying.

Nozaki-eki (Nozaki station) is in Ohtawara proper, but it is so far west that the ride in to downtown Ohtawara from Nishinasuno-eki is actually quicker.

The framed images on the train station wall are tourist posters to visit Nikko, because “Nikko is Nippon”.

A pretty bold statement, but for travelers to Japan, it’s not inaccurate. Tokyo and Osaka are like New York, London or Toronto - hep, happening places where something is always going on.

But if you want a glimpse into feudal Tokyo, well, along with Kyoto and Nara, Nikko is a great place to visit, with plenty of shrines, temples, parades, stone lanterns, nature - what have you!
  • It would take me: 20 minutes to ride from my apartment in Ohtawara to Nishinasuno-eki;
  • Catch and ride a regular JR train south 40 minutes to Utsunomiya;
  • Catch and ride the JR train northwest 40 minutes to Nikko;
  • Walk 15 minutes to the main Nikko shrine/temple area to begin gawking at the architecture.
I would visit Nikko once every two months, maybe more often. While I only went and saw the shrines and temples maybe six times in three years, I spent a few times visiting friends (Hutchison Family), sightseeing Chuzenji-ko (Lake Chuzenji) and Kegon Taki (Kegon Falls) to take photos.

But really, mots of the time I visited an antique shop and would talk and learn about ukiyo-e art, purchasing a few along the way.

As for the tourist poster, we notice that the 'Nikko is Nippon' tagline is written in English.

Make no mistake, this poster is for the Japanese public. No. 1... Japan's tourist associations are pretty darn savvy. They would never create an ad for the foreign public using the term "Nippon". Yeah, the word Nippon (which is used by Japanese to represent the name of their country Japan - they also use Nihon) all over their postage stamps, but when marketing to foreigners, they would have used the more familiar tern of 'Japan'.

Also, the dialogue on the posters is written in Japanese...

Still 'Nikko is Nippon' is written in English. There's the word "is"... implying the power that English still has over the populace.

It's a little thing, but it is still telling.

Image by Matthew.

Andrew Joseph

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