Nikko [continued]

We next visited the Rinnoji Temple and its beautiful garden, a haven of rest after the very popular Tosho-gu temple. After lunch (the usual organised tour lunch – we try to avoid tours if possible), we went to the Nikko Tamozawa Imperial Villa. A railway service began to Nikko in 1890, and Nikko became fashionable. The imperial court set up its summer residence there. It meshed together existing residences, a villa owned by a business man plus a villa of the Kishu Tokugawa clan, making up over 100 rooms, surrounded by exquisite gardens. The south side was reserved for the Emperor and Empress, the north for the liege and court ladies (83 rooms, so a large entourage). This retreat continued to be very popular with the royal family (much like the British royals love Sandringham) and was used until 1947. The family stayed here to escape the bombing of Tokyo late in the second world war. No longer furnished, it still gives a poignant insight into the way of life of the imperial family. The beautiful light wooden house had many vistas over the delightful garden towards the forests and mountains surrounding Nikko. [next: back to Tokyo for the last few days of our 2013 trip].

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