Japan March 2004

Japan 2004 Day 9: Nikko

Friday March 19, 2004

We woke up early to catch the Shinkansen for our trip to the Nikko National Park just north of Tokyo. When we arrived at Tokyo Station we decided to reserve our seats for our trip tomorrow to Hiroshima. We decided to go far and work our way back from there to see what we can do. We have an hour lay-over in Osaka before arriving in Hiroshima before 1pm. That’s just enough time for us to hit the museum and take a few photos before we have to hop back on the train back to Tokyo. We want to hop off in Kyoto on the way back, but we are worried as the train options back from Kyoto are limited on the weekends. The good thing is that our Japan Rail Passes give us some flexibility.

You know it is a World Heritage site (Nikko not the Gorn)

From Tokyo Station, we set out for Nikko on the Tohoku Shinkansen which only took 50 minutes to reach Utsunomiya. At Utsunomiya we transferred to the JR Nikko line and that was another 45 min ride via local service up the mountains to Nikko. Once we arrived there, we walked 20-30 minutes to the National Park. It cost us only 1,000 Yen each to see the 5 major temples of the park.

Beautiful 5-story Pagoda in Nikko
Yōmei-mon aka Sunset Gate
Strolling through the trees and temples in Nikko
The Drum
The Taiyuin-byo Shrine in Nikko

The area was really beautiful. Lots of mountains in the background and tall redwood trees – reminding me of Northern California. The is certainly a highlight of the trip, even with all the touristy nick-nack stands that were omnipresent. Some of the placement of the souvenirs was a little tacky next to the highly religious temple sites, but not enough to bother me. I bought a book so I could remember all of the temples names and made sure that I took photos of adjacent signage for reference.

We reversed our train ride back to Tokyo so we could get dinner and do some shopping in town before the big trip on tomorrow. We headed for the Roppongi district and boy was it an adventure! It took us three tries to find the McDonald’s in our guide map. While there, we discovered that there was a Hard Rock Cafe close by so I made sure to pick up Kevin’s shot glass and a shirt for Gary and I. We then wandered around the mall before heading over to Shibuya. Daniel found a shoulder bag (he looks so Japanese now!) and I found another notebook to ponder my Disney Tally to determine what I think the best ride versions, parks, and Resorts are around the world. Something to do on the train ride tomorrow. After some Baskin-Robbins for dessert we decided to call it a night.

Up early tomorrow for Hiroshima!