Nikko trip – 4/30-5/2/2013

Wow!  Long time no share things that I’ve done.  Here I am to rectify this, starting with an awesome, short trip I took to Nikko this last Spring.  Nikko is a small, but very historical and famous city north of Tokyo.  It’s home to the Toshogu Shrine, where Tokugawa Ieyasu is enshrined.  Tokugawa fought for power, and once he achieved it around 1600, Japan saw a long period of peace.  He’s considered one of the most important figures in Japanese history (yay rudimentary knowledge of Japanese history!).  The Toshogu Shrine is really super cool and famous, but nearby Nikko is a great national park up in the mountains that I got to visit as well.

On my first day, I had a few hours of daylight left after I reached Nikko, so I went to a place called Tobu World Square, which is home to all sorts of impressive, giant models of famous structures from around the world.  It sounds nerdy and kind of lame, but it was actually wicked awesome. Here are some pictures!

The Twin Towers next to the Sky Tree?  Only in Nikko!

The Twin Towers next to the Sky Tree? Only in Nikko!

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Filming "The Last Emperor" at the Forbidden Palace.

Filming “The Last Emperor” at the Forbidden Palace.

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film crew

film crew

Photo recommendation.

Photo recommendation.

I oblige!

I oblige!

Next, I walked along a river that cuts through the city, and saw some cool stairs!

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The last picture was taken from the gray square in the middle of the bridge.

The last picture was taken from the gray square in the middle of the bridge.

Afterwards, I headed to the hostel and spent a relaxing evening talking with the owner and one of the guests. The next day, I got up early, went to the station, and got a bus pass for Nikko National Park! First stop, Kegon falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in Japan! It was quite nice.

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Just above Kegon Falls is Lake Chuzenji, and next to the lake is the impressive, volcanic-looking Mt. Nantai. My original plan was to hike this mountain, but it would take all day, leave me exhaused, and be even colder than it already was at the top, so I decided against hiking it and to spread out my sightseeing.

Lake Chuzenji

Lake Chuzenji

Mt. Nantai

Mt. Nantai

If you head along the lake, then turn and go around Mt Nantai, you will come to Senjougahara field, where some famous samurai battle happened long ago. Neat! I hiked through the field, up to Yumoto where I got to experience one of their famous hot springs, then I hiked back through the field and along a river that had some cool waterfalls. Pictures!

Beginning of the hike! The woods just next to the field.

Senjougahara field!
Senjougahara field!

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Crazy looking waterfall.

Crazy looking waterfall.

Looking across the lake to Yumoto, where I got in a hot spring.

Looking across the lake to Yumoto, where I got in a hot spring.

Cool light on the way back!

Cool light on the way back!

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That was a long hike which I did very fast so I could see everything before the buses stopped running. Exhausted, I caught the bus back to Nikko. There was just a bit of sunlight left when I got to the hostel, where I met a new guest who spoke really good English, and we walked around the neighborhood to see some of the sights together.

The next day, I packed up my stuff and headed for Toshogu Shrine. Toshogu Shrine itself is just one building, but the area around the shrine is littered with temples and other shrines and pagodas and whatzits and whoozas and what have you. You could totally spend the better part of the day just wandering around and getting hungry, which I did!

Big Torii gate next to an enormous tree.

Big Torii gate next to an enormous tree.

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I loved how these super fancy buildings were tucked right into the forest

Toshogu Shrine. I loved how these super fancy buildings were tucked right into the forest

Funny monkeys.

Funny monkeys.

Good job, roofers!  The shrine was actually being renovated when I was there, so you can see some unpainted bits.  Luckily, they were only renovating a small bit, so I got to basically get the normal Toshogu experience.

Good job, roofers! The shrine was actually being renovated when I was there, so you can see some unpainted bits. Luckily, they were only renovating a small bit, so I got to basically get the normal Toshogu experience.

Cool trail behind the shrine.

Cool trail behind the shrine.

After I saw the main complex of buildings, I took this trail up a hill behind the shrine to escape the crowds a bit. I got to see some quaint, small, historical spots, and tried my hand at the “throw a rock through the small hoop at the top of the Torii Gate for good luck” game. But since I was carrying my backpack and was getting super hungry, I somewhat grumpily rushed along the trail so I could get back to town and eat something.  I got a kind of omlette rice ball with spicy rice at a gas station near the station and shamelessly stuffed my face as I walked through the crowds back to the station.

On my way back to Tokyo, I stopped in the city and went to a famous restaurant one of the other hostel-goers told me about the night before called Nikko Coffee. Despite being near impossible to find, it was excellent! Really yummy coffee, and I got an excellent pork-crepe with veggies thingie.

Having an extra hour before the train came, I wandered around the city a bit and found this neat street with lots of trees. I got on a bridge over the street and took this picture.

Kind of cool.

Kind of cool.

That’s it! I got on the train and went back to enjoy the rest of my Golden week. Bye, Nikko!

Bye, Stephen!

Bye, Stephen!

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2 thoughts on “Nikko trip – 4/30-5/2/2013

  1. Your Dad

    Steve – Thank you for sharing your trip to Nikko. That was one of my favorite places when I was in Japan. Thanks for the memories! If I make it to Japan while you are still there, you will need to take me there.

    Reply

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