In the summer of 2012, when staying in Tokyo for my first trip to Japan, I made a few excursions to nearby areas, one of which was Nikko. This beautiful town leads you to Nikko National Park, where you can see the beautifully decorated Toshogu shrine and lake Chuzenji. I was in awe when I first visited Nikko.
First day - Scenery
From Asakusa station in Tokyo, I hopped on the Tobu train to Nikko. The trip took me almost 3 hours. The scene during the trip changed from urban to rural with more green and fresh air, which made me feel good after a whole week seeing the hustling life in Tokyo’s metropolitan area.
Our train stopped at Tobu-Nikko station and we continued the journey to lake Chūzenji, where we start our sight setting, on the bus.
Sitting on the train and bus for long made us want to exercise a little bit. We rent a boat at the boathouse row to row on the lake.
I felt small and immersed between the blue sky, the lake as the reflecting mirror and the surrounding green forest and mountains. It was a beautiful moment to be remembered now.
After this, we walked to Ryuzu Falls. The road runs around the lake so I had more time contemplating its beauty.
We reached the fall after a short walk and it looked fantastic.
At the fall, the battery of my Nikon D80 died so I had to use my iPod Touch camera to capture photos for the rest of the day. It was also my fault as I didn’t charge the camera battery fully and took too many shots in the morning.
The most photogenic time in Nikko must be sunset. At a house by the lake, the lake looked amazing. The scene was quiet. I could only hear the sound of waves tapping the bank and birds chirping. The sun was fairly low, creating more dramatic lighting for photos. Though the camera of iPod Touch has a resolution of only 0.9 MP, I still love these photos.
My friends and I were pretty tired after the long trekking and wanted to go back to the town. However, we missed the buses as they stopped operating earlier than we thought. A friend of mine studied in the US had this idea of hitchhiking. I wasn’t used to it since it is a very rare thing in Singapore but was curious to try it. It really worked! We waved for a while and a gentleman gave us a ride to the town.
We didn’t book any hostel as we thought of visiting the town first to decide whether we want to spend one more day in Nikko. It was not difficult to find accommodation in a non-peak season like June. We managed to find a hostel room that has 4 bunk beds for us.
I took this shot near Kegon Falls. We encountered a wild monkey running toward us when it saw us holding cameras. It tried to snatch our cameras and got pissed when I took this photo. Apparently, this problem with monkeys was already noted by the government. If you see wild monkeys in Japan, it’s better that you don’t hold any cameras.
After dinner, I decided to look for a disposable camera in the supermarket nearby. I bought a Fujifilm film camera since it is the only one they got. It has an ISO 1600! Pretty crazy considering my D80’s max ISO is also 1600. The ISO is determined automatically by the camera’s light sensor, which is smart enough to increase the ISO in the shady lighting condition. The photos look noise-free in open daylight environment. Its colour produced by the Natura film reminds me of many Japanese movies I have watched. They have a calm, serene and nostalgic vibe.
Second day – Shrines and Temples
In the second day, we visited Rinnoji Temple and Toshogu Shrine. On the way there, we passed by Shinkyo Bridge, which is an iconic site of Nikko.
I have many failed shots during the trips, due to my first time using a film camera. My fingers were accidentally the view many times.
I was too slow to take a photo when this lady was walking toward me. It ended up being a shot from behind her, but I’m still satisfied with this.
Toshogu shrine was our last place to visit in Nikko as we went back to Tokyo in the afternoon.
Writing this post, I also did some research about Nikko as I want to plan another trip there when I visit Tokyo again. An interesting fact that came up is that Nikko is part of Japan Romantic Road, which is definitely part of the itinerary for anyone that loves a road trip. Also, I didn’t try any onsen in Nikko. So my plan for the next trip to Nikko is to definitely visit it during the fall and spend more time trekking at Nikko National Park and enjoy the onsen there.