Wednesday, October 25, 2006


This past weekend (Oct 21st), Natsumi and I headed north to the scenic temple/sightseeing/laketown area of Nikko. I had been there last year to see the famous Tosho-gu shrine and the like, but this time we went because we wanted to do some hiking and stop in at a little resort-like town up in the mountains.

Nikko is about an hour and a half north of Kasukabe by train. Because this is the time of year when the leaves are changing colors, the area is overcrowded by tourists. Roads are jam-packed with cars, and all of the trains are really crowded. I can`t believe some people drive up there, as traffic moves at a snail`s pace at times. Regardless, we caught a train out of Kasukabe at 655am, and arrived at Tobu-Nikko station at about 845am. From there we wanted to go up into the mountains to Chuzenjiko, the famous town located 1500m above sea level. It is in the shadow of Nantai-san, the biggest mountain in the area. This was easier said than done, as we had to take a super-crowded bus and ride for over 2 hours (a trip which should take about 25 minutes...that`s what I mean by heavy traffic.)

The strange and beautiful thing about Chuzenjiko is that there is a lake up in the mountains. It was weird to travel up a mountain for 2 hours, only to arrive at the top and see a huge lake. Very surreal. We had a nice stroll along the edge of the lake and enjoyed the surroundings. Being fall, the leaves were turning, and it was really nice to be there. It really reminded me of being in Clear Lake, just with mountains. From there we wanted to hike to a different area so we could see the `dragon`s head falls` (Ryuzu no taki, pictured above), which are also famous there. We must have missed the hiking trail, and we ended up doing our `hiking` along the egde of a busy road for about 10km. Determined, we pushed on and ended up at the falls after about 2 hours of slightly stressful hiking. The falls were very beautiful, and there was a nice area there where we could relax.

Our mission accomplished, we hopped on the bus back to the train station, and then caught the train home. Unfortunately for me, my inability to sleep on airplanes also crosses over to trains, so I can`t sleep on them either. Natsumi can sleep just about anywhere, so 5 minutes after we left she was passed out on my shoulder. By the time we got home, she was almost rested, lucky thing. For me, the traveling is just as hard of a slog as the hiking or other activity we are doing. Either way, I always give it my all, or "Ganbatte!" as they say here in Japan.

Pics to come...

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