This past weekend, the TUJ Student Activities office accomplished an amazing trip to one of Japan’s most beautiful northern regions: Nikko.
After an early bus ride, we arrived at our first destination: The Ooya Stone Museum. While the museum seems like a small space from the outside, entering the building gave us a huge surprise.
Out of nowhere, a staircase appears. As we stepped down, the temperature and the light level decreased gradually.
At the end of the stairs we found ourselves in a massive space that was completely overwhelming. The Stone Museum is about 20,000 square meters total: a labyrinth that is the remains of an expansive mining project of Ooya stone, which was halted as concrete became in higher demand in the 1970s.
There was also a fantastic photo exhibition incorporated into the mine itself.
After the Museum, we left to visit the nearby shrine. The distinct porous Oya stone was all around the area!
The natural rock formations around the shrine were breathtaking. We were told that these caverns were inhabited by humans thousands of years ago. More recently (but still extremely old) is the carving of Kannon, the Bodhisattva of Mercy and Compassion.
There was a lovely garden next to the shrine that looked spectacular in the rain.
There were smaller shrines and statues all throughout the garden.
I’m always enchanted by the artful blends of nature and artwork in Japan, it’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced.
Right around the corner from the shrine is an 88-foot high image of the Kannon. This was carved out of the rock wall after WWII to be dedicated to the lost and for the hope of peace. It was massive!
We lit a candle to pay our respects to the icon.
While I wish I could let you experience how huge the work was, hopefully this can give you a better sense of the scale. After climbing the stairs up to the platform, TUJ student Molly Lloyd poses next to Kannon and considers a world as peaceful as the day we’ve had.