Just when we had started to become a little bit familiar with parts of this big city, it was time to don our backpacks again and board a Shinkansen to our next destination, Nikko. We were both pretty excited to see what the hype was about the super-fast bullet trains and it certainly didn’t disappoint! It literally felt and sounded like a jet plane taking off and the landscape just flashed by in a blur! We were at Nikko before we even had time to relax into our seats!
Nikko is up in the mountains about 120kms north of Tokyo so we felt the slight decline in temperature almost immediately. However it was a far cry from the concrete jungle of Tokyo, instead of skyscrapers we had mountains and enormous tree’s towering over us!
We only had one day to explore the area which was mainly a tourist trap due to its beautiful temples and the hiking in the area. We weren’t up for serious hiking after walking around the city for the past few days, although we did do a fair bit of walking.
We walked through the National Park and saw some of the pagodas, shrines and temples that Nikko had to offer. We didn’t pay to go into any of the temples though so we probably missed out on some of the best but after seeing so many of them throughout Asia our philosophy is that they should either keep it private or allow people to see them for free, even if it’s just from the outside! It’s rare in Japan to actually be allowed into these religious buildings, whereas in some of the other countries we didn’t pay anything to even go in, which in most cases prompted us to donate anyway.
The best part of Nikko for us was the landscape so we just enjoyed walking around the area. We saw a stunning waterfall after walking through the forest and the tourists can keep their dazzling colourful shrines and temples because we saw a cute little shrine on a hill that was so simple and modest that we thought it was more original and beautiful anyway!
While in Nikko we struggled to find a place to eat as everywhere seemed too touristy and the prices were all severely marked up, however we stumbled upon a little café type place run by a friendly little Japanese lady. She cooked up a beef curry for Liam from scratch even though it wasn’t specifically on the lunch menu and the food turned out to be delicious! She actually put a huge smile on our faces for the rest of our day because she was so kind; at the end of the meal she brought us some tiny origami cranes she had made and a set of paper for us to make some ourselves! Such a small act of kindness but it meant the world to us! Now I thought that the crane Koushi showed me how to make was tiny, however when I got it out and compared it with the ones the lady gave us mine looked huge! They must have been very difficult to make anyway!