Recycling Gondolas

By Denis Plamondon

Photos by Sandra D’Sylva & Denis Plamondon

Recycling the Gondolas in Nikko

Recycling Gondolas in Nikko

Once hanging in the air for sightseeing or used to climb to the top of a ski hill, old gondolas can easily be recycled for a second life. But for how long? You can find this rather odd phone booth in the village of  Nikko, located a couple of hours North West of Tokyo by train (departing from Asakusa Station).  You can’t miss it if you are on your way to the sacred bridge passing over the Daiya river. By the way, Nikko is not only famous for its temples, but also for its stunning nature, so be prepared to discover. The question is how much longer will you find any public phone around? Recently, I went to a conference at the Tokyo Hilton and I came across a series of telephone boothes with no phones inside! Could there be a third life for a gondola with a public phone in it? A museum, maybe.

Buddhism, for its part, reinvents  itself continuously – recycling is not deemed necessary. Gadgets of our time, with their short life cycle, fade away so quickly while the tradition of Buddhism seems to be more alive than ever in Nikko. If you come to Tokyo, this World Heritage asset is absolutely a “must see” destination. With an early start, you can make it in a day, although you will probably wish you did not have to sacrifice so many temples on the way. Play it wisely and spend a couple of days; it is worth the trip. The site of the first temple was founded in 766 by the monk Shodo-Shonin during the Nara period (710-792) before the capital was moved to Kyoto. With such a long history encrypted in time,  space and every dimension of its architecture and design, Nikko is probably one of the nicest places in Japan to appreciate the richness of colorful mountain temples.

The particularity of this fantastic location comes from the high level of talent invested by its conceptors in building and constructing. By hiring the best artists – sculptors, painters, carpenters, etc. –  emperors and shoguns have directly contributed to Nikko’s celebrity by providing it with the most colorful and delightful temples found in Japan. You will see very few temples with bare wood here. After the death of Shogun Tokugawa Iyeyasu, a mausoleum was erected at the Toshogu Shrine where ashes of the famous shogun were transported. The surrounding nature as well, embeded with such vestiges, are also of high interest.

Nikko Snake bridge over the Daiya River

Nikko Snake bridge over the Daiya River

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Nikko Yomeimon Gate

Nikko Yomeimon Gate

Details of fine sculpture in Nikko

Details of fine wood sculpting in Nikko

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Nikko Yakushido Tour and Lantern

Nikko Yakushido Tour and Lantern

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Nikko Taiyu-In Tour

Nikko Taiyu-In Tour

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Nikko Taiyu-In Kaminari-Mon

Nikko Taiyu-In Kaminari-Mon

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Information to Nikko (Access, Facilities, World Heritage)

Information from the City of Nikko