Long ago, in the year 766, procession of monks was journeying north of Edo. When they came upon the river Daiya, they were unable to continue, for the river cut a gorge through the mountains. Suddenly, from out of the water appeared Jinja-Daio—the terrifying 10-foot-tall god of the river. But instead of trouble, he brought a solution for the poor monks and promised Priest Shodo Shonin to help them cross. He released two sacred snakes over the river, and as they came together they transformed into a bridge. The priest and his monks safely crossed the river, then stopped to look back. The bridge of sacred snakes had already disappeared. The beautiful red lacquer Shinkyo Bridge is one of Japan’s top three most beautiful bridges. It is also the first bridge built over a gorge in Japan. Only the emperor himself was allowed to use the bridge during the early Edo period, and the current design was completed in 1636.
When I visited the bridge today with friends we happened on an adorable family photo shoot complete with period costumes. Kawaii, ne?! Chris and I passed this bridge on our first (snowy) visit to Nikko in March, and I regretted not having time to stop and admire it. Today we had plenty of time! It’s kind of like they say: Nikko kekko—you can’t say you’re satisfied until you’ve seen Nikko!