Friday, June 12, 2009

The Ancient Town of Nikko

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Together with my YKC friends Kate and Winai, I went to Nikko last March 2008. Well, it was kinda cloudy that day and it rained during the afternoon so sorry for the blurry pictures. Anyways, we bought the Tobu All Nikko Pass which costs 4400yen and is valid for 4 days. It allows unlimited rides in all Tobu buses and trains around Nikko. However, it only includes one round-trip fare from Tokyo (Asakusa station) to Nikko, meaning if you want to make the most of the 4 days, you must stay in Nikko. We only used this pass for one day, though. But even so, it is a pretty good deal if you ask me :D

Nikko is around two hours from Tokyo, and since it is located on top of the mountain, it is 10degrees colder there than Tokyo. We did not know this at first, so we just brought light jackets with us! And since it was raining, we were freezing by the end of the day. Lesson learned: Always check the temperature of the places I will visit.

We left Tokyo via the Tobu Asakusa station at around 8am and arrived in Nikko at around 10am. Our first stop is the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Toushouguu Shrine, which is the burial place of the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu and the most famous of all Nikko Shrines. This is also where the famous carvings of the 3 monkeys and the sacred stable can be found.

Toushouguu Shrine (taken April 26, 2008)

3 monkeys - Hear no evil, Speak no evil, See no evil (taken April 26, 2008)

After Toushouguu Shrine, we passed through some temples, but since we were rushing to go to Kegon Falls, we did not go into them anymore.

Because we lacked time, we just bought some onigiri for lunch and ate them on the way to Kegon Falls. When we got to the viewing deck of the falls, we could not see a thing! Since it was a cloudy day, the falls was covered with fog and only the sound of the water can be heard. Fortunately, there is another viewing deck near the falls but you have to take an elevator to get there. The elevator costs around 500yen and it takes you directly to the lower viewing decks. The view is waaaay better here so that 500yen was so worth it.

Kegon Falls (taken April 26, 2008)

After Kegon Falls, we rode the bus again to get to Lake Chuzenji near the peak. By the way, we were already freezing at this point, so imagine our reactions when the we were greeted by the even colder winds at the peak. We were literally running around the place just to keep warm. Lake Chuzenji actually drains through Kegon Falls, so yeah it is that high. Even if the weather is very cold, there were actually some people in the water.

Very foggy Lake Chuzenji (taken April 26, 2008)

After Lake Chuzenji, we walked around the place and passed by the Sacred Bridge or Shinkyou. I really found it very beautiful and magical despite of the rain.

Shinkyou (taken April 26, 2008)

Because we cannot stand the cold anymore, we decided to leave the peak and go to our last stop, Rinnoji Temple. This is considered one the most important Buddhist temple in Nikko. It was near closing time when we got there, so we had to rush our exploration of the area.

Rinnoji Temple (taken April 26, 2008)

Because of its close proximity to Tokyo, Nikko is a great day trip destination for city people seeking ancient Japan. Not only is it full of beautiful temples and shrines listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it is also a great place to experience nature.

1) Tobu All Nikko Pass for 4400yen valid for 4 days. Includes all bus, trains around Nikko and a round trip Tokyo-Nikko ticket. (recommended)
2) JR Nikko Line Nikko Station (journey takes longer and is not recommended)

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