Thursday, August 20, 2015

Adventure at Nikko : 9th July 2015

This was the day that we would meet Nakano-san, my friend whom I met at Sapporo during the one-day trip. Nakano-san was very kind to offer and bring us around in a rental car to explore Nikko. I have always wanted to visit some waterfalls at Nikko and am deeply enthralled by their spectacular scenery. I was so happy when Nakano-san suggested to bring us around :)

So we met him bright and early at Asakusa station, to take the Tobu Spacia Train to Tobu-Nikko station. It was about an hour's ride. And this ride was special as we purchased this special compartment ticket to have a private room in the train! Our first time in fact haha..the ride was very comfortable except that we saw the weather was turning really cloudy at Nikko.. most of the attractions that we would visit were outdoors, so we were pretty worried about this!

We reached the station and went to the nearby Toyota Car Rental Office to pick the car. This time, Nakano drove and he chose a really comfortable MPV car to drive us around.. So we drove the beautiful greenery to reach the first waterfall: Yunotaki
Reached the station!

Our car for the day!

Driving through the greenery

When we reached Yunotaki, there was big group of school children with their teachers. Since this is their summer vacation, they have come by to Nikko to visit waterfalls! I envy these students to explore the nature of Japan which has so much to offer

Us with Nakano-san

The Magnificient Downpour

After Yunotaki, Nakano-san brought us to this Senjoghara Wetlands. It was a marsh in fact and during good weather conditions, one get to enjoy the view of Mount Nantai.

Weather was not getting any good, but we kept our spirits high after seeing the first waterfall. For the next waterfall, Nakano-san mentioned he wanna bring us to Ryuzu-Falls. I got to know about this waterfall from Channel Newsasia, Japan Hour and I was stunned by its beauty, hoping to see it live during this trip. 

And there it was! Stunning. I bet it would be more beautiful during the autumn season. Nikko is also a great place to visit during autumn too!

Very happy with this view.

After absorbing the negative ions from the atmosphere and enjoying the view at this fall, we decided to head to Kegon Falls before going for lunch. Kegon falls is the most popular waterfall in Nikko. But, the weather was really really bad. Alas, we could not get to see it at all except to hear the sound of the falls... well maybe next time during autumn I hope!

This was closed on that day as it was way too cloudy

Nothing but the fog :(

Something to make us worth coming by although we did not see Kegon falls haha..but we tasted yummy local delicacy :)

So after this visit, Nakano-san brought us to 明治の館, a restaurant which I came across from Japan Hour again haha I love that show! It is a Western-style restaurant hidden somewhere near to Toshogu shrine, which is a UNESCO world heritage site to visit in Nikko. All of us decided to try the recommended Omu Rice at this restaurant and I must say everyone was greatly surprised by the taste of it! 

Omu Rice

After our lunch, we took a short walk outside the restaurant and Dear spotted deer right at one corner of the trees! I was so happy as I wanna take photos of deer in their most native environment. And there it was, munching happily at the leaves and staring curiously back at me while I was photographing it :) Hello Deer from Nikko!

After this beautiful encounter, we proceeded to Toshogu Shrine (東照宮). This is the place where the famous three monkeys carvings can be spotted, together with the sleepy cat. Since this is a world heritage site, the number of visitors was enormous despite the rain.

 Hear no Evil, Speak no Evil, See no Evil (philosophy of life)

The Sleeping Cat

Facets of Toshogu Shrine

We spent a considerable amount of time here although it was raining heavily. I must say the visit was quite fruitful. There are a lot of interesting carvings at the various shrine pillars, roofs etc which you could admire and take pictures. The place was also very big. And with the tall mighty trees, you could experience a zen feeling! (minus the crowd)

We left for our last destination, and that was Jizo Bake. I got to know about this place while reading about Nikko and thought this must be an interesting place to explore. There is a series of Jizos. Via counting from one direction will give you a different number as compared to counting them from the opposite direction. Not sure what the reason was and I decided not to count but to capture the beauty of this place on my camera. There wasnt many people there so one can enjoy the beauty of the rapids next to them. Some people did mention that it was an eerie place but we did not feel so!

An early autumn for this tree?

With that peace in mind, we left to see the Shinkyo Bridge before leaving Nikko. It is said to be a sacred bridge for the entrance to the temples and shrines in Nikko, that arches the Daiya river.
Alone standing, in its own beauty. 

And this concluded our trip in Nikko. What a fruitful day despite the rain! We saw so many things although we did not see the Kegon waterfall haha..which beckons another trip in the future I hope haha in autumn.. Really thank Nakano-san who offered to bring us around for this Nikko trip. If not for him and his safe driving skill, I think we could not really manage well as transport in Nikko to various attractions is limited by the bus services that are not so frequent.

Nakano-san drove us to Utsunomiya station to return the car and enjoy the famous gyozas over there. To our surprise, it was the best gyozas we ever had and the price was affordable.

This was the place where we had gyozas, just right across Utsunomiya station if you are thinking to visit! After gyozas, we took the train back to Tokyo station which was about 1h plus. It was a fulfilling trip and once again, great thanks to Nakano-san. Although we had some problem of communication, I know a bit of Japanese, he knows a bit of English, we could still communicate, share travel stories, working experiences and family with each other, sometimes requiring the help of Google Translate haha..nonetheless, we enjoyed our trip with him and hope to visit him again in Tokyo soon!

1. Yunotaki
3. Ryuzu-Falls
4. Kegon falls

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