As soon as I'd booked my trip to Tokyo I knew that I wanted to take a day trip outside of the city. After all, it's pretty unlikely that I'll be back in Japan any time soon. I looked at going to Kyoto (Memoirs of a Geisha! Bullet train!) but it turns out that there's a reason Japanese trains are so amazing: they're expensive. Kyoto was out.
Onto Plan B: Nikko. Guidebook/internet recommended, (more) affordable, two hours from Tokyo, natural beauty, more historical shizzle than you can shake a stick at. Sorted.
I really enjoyed the train journey (on the way I upgraded to a faster/slightly fancier train because I'm fancy). It was brilliant to look out of the window and see suburban/rural Japan whizz past me. It was weird to see a couple enjoying a nice cold beer with their bento boxes at 7.30am.
First I jumped on a bus (well, after queueing for a long time) up the mountain and came to Kegon Falls.
I'm pretty sure it's the first time I've seen a massive (and it was massive) waterfall IRL, and it awed me. It was literally awesome.
It seems that this is my go-to dress for iconic travel photos!
I then walked down the road to Lake Chuzenji. There was something so brilliantly surreal about seeing hilariously kitsch swan boats being pedalled across such a naturally beautiful lake. Yet another moment where I thought, 'I bloody love Japan!'
After getting my fill of natural beauty, I got the coach back down the (scarily twisty) mountain and went to check out the human-made stuff. There are loads of shrines and temples in Nikko, but these photos are from the Tosho-gu shrine. It's super-significant historically, but I'm not going to lie to you- my knowledge of said history is pretty non-existent. That's one of the disadvantages of travelling in a relatively non-Westernised country... Not much detailed information in English (that's my excise anyway!). Have some pictures instead...
The Shinkyo Bridge. The internet tells me that it's 'one of Japan's three finest bridges'.
I know I've been a bit blase about the history and stuff, but it really was an amazing day. I feel so privelidged to have been able to spend a day outside of Tokyo and experience another side (or sides) of Japan.
The boring bits:
I bought the Tobu Railways All Nikko Pass which covered my train and bus travel all day. The internet told me I had to order this four days in advance, although they sold me one in person two days before. So even if you're forgetful like me it might still be worth a try.
Getting around by bus was fairly easy, although the I had to wait a while for my bus from the station when I arrived, because they filled up quickly. I think they stopped at the JR station first, so it would probably be worth walking down there to guarantee getting a seat.
You could easily fill two days with everything that the area has to offer! One was fine but I was pretty tired the next day!
It's so weird looking back at these photos, it already feels like an age ago... Take me back. Please.
PS This is the first Weekend Wanderlust post I've written for aaaaages, but you can find the others here if you fancy taking a look!