First step of the day was coffee, of course – no coffee bag here! More Japanese space-saving:
We had a banana each for brekky, packed our bags and then went to Tobu Asakusa station to pick up our Tobu 4 Day pass, which you have to buy online in advance. Now that we knew where to go, it was all easy, and the lady at reception when I picked up the passes was very helpful. Even if she did get some of the info wrong.
While on the train, I organised to get picked up by our accommodation and then sat back and looked out the window. At first it was all apartment blocks, then interspersed with houses, some of which could be anywhere in the world. Then it was suddenly rice paddies everywhere! They were in amongst houses and yards – sometimes only the one surrounded on all sides and often whole fields of them between the towns.
When we got to Nikko station, I noticed a man with a sign with someone’s name on it and then went outside to look for the car that was picking us up. Saw the car but it was empty. It turned out they had got the name wrong and it should have been us. The fellow dropped us off near the World Heritage area and then took our bags to our accommodation. We should have got our raincoats out because it started raining almost immediately.
We went off in search of lunch. A lot of the restaurants were closed. Apparently because it was Wednesday… We found one quaint little restaurant where we ordered a shrimp pilaf (basically fried rice) set each. The little old lady who ran the place then proceeded to cook our lunch. We were the only ones there and she seemed very grateful to have customers. She gave us little cranes and squares of printed paper when we left. So cute.
We wandered back in the other direction and looked at the sacred bridge (Shinkyo Bridge) and then waited ages to cross the road to go to the World Heritage National Park. Got there in the end.
From my reading of others’ experience in Japan, I was expecting there to be a lot more english signage than there was. We spent ages trying to find Rinnoji Temple and when we finally did we were told it was being renovated so you could only see some of the statues close up.
We passed on that and went on to Toshogu Shrine complex instead. It was comparatively expensive (1300 Yen each), but then it is the most well-known one. Unfortunately, it started to rain again, and some of my photos didn’t turn out because my camera was photographing the rain instead of the beautiful temple buildings I was trying to capture. There were a lot of people walking around and it was almost impossible to get wide-angle shots without someone in the photo – taking photos.
The rain did make for some beautiful misty looks to some of the photos. Especially the staircases through the trees.
Because of the lack of signs that we could read, we missed out on a lot of the really famous aspects of the temple/shrine complex. Some nice people did point out the sleeping cat to us though!
The detailed carving on the shrines and temples is absolutely amazing. You could spend weeks just admiring it all!
After Toshogu, we went to Futurasan Shrine. There’s a lovely path there:
Futurasan Shrine was more of the same really – lots of gorgeous buildings. Though this had some little gates and water features and little stone wishing mounds (at least that’s what I thought they were – no signs in english…)
We were thinking of heading back towards our accommodation and taking in the Imperial Villa, but since we were passing right by it, we stopped in at Taiyuin Temple. Again, very similar, though I still took too many photos.
We then walked back to our accommodation. By the time we got to the villa it was too late. It (and everything else) closes really early – about 4.30pm. It’s a shame because it is still light enough out and would give people more time…
Once we got to our accommodation and were shown around and then to our room, we just wanted to have a coffee and a sit down. We did just that and then the accommodation’s owner took us back to town so we could have dinner.
He took us to the Monte Roza restaurant in Nikko centre. It had an amazing menu! Firstly, we were taken into a room to ourselves. There were about 10 menus on the table with all sorts of stuff on offer. The lady then came back with a tablet which you could switch languages on so we could see what was on offer in english. We chose a mackerel dish for me and tempura prawns for Ela, as well as a bottle of sake for 2. You just choose them on the tablet and then order them on there as well and it turns up when it’s ready. My meal was great, but Ela didn’t like her tempura prawns – the tempura was soggy and the prawns were whole – in the shell, with heads and tails. She didn’t eat much of them, so ordered scallop in the shell. That was nice, but not much of either… Still, it was value for money and an experience!
We caught the bus back to our accommodations and then went to make use of the private onsen. It was really nice!!
Afterwards, I labeled all the photos from today but couldn’t then narrow down the choice and write the blog entry as well, so went to bed and slept like the dead!
Reworked and larger sized pictures from this day are here. Click on the first picture and then move through them at full screen size.