"A very different and fascinating visit." Tokyo by unaS
Tokyo Travel Guide: 4,096 reviews and 10,118 photos
Besides the city itself, a nice day trip is to visit Nikko:
The Cherry Tree blooming season was over in Tokyo, but the trees on the road up to Nikko were in full bloom. There is a special beauty to the wild cherry trees that only grow on the mountain tops. Saw 300 year old Cedar trees and some fine examples of the typical Japanese Pine that is so often seen in Japanese prints.
The shrine at Nikko is impressive. Wooden carvings 8-9 hundred years old gilded with a thin layer of real gold. The Japanese Phoenix that could visit only in time of peace.
A gorgeous GONG!!! Very low tone that carries for miles! It is rung using a clapper on the end of a full sized log (a whole tree) dependent on long rope that requires real strength to pull.
On to the Lake and Kegon Falls - an extinct volcano, 1,300 meters high. The climb up that steep turning, twisting road is fantastic. So narrow and steep that there are two different roads for traffic climbing and traffic descending. There are wild monkeys in the trees up there.
My hotel is a 'businessman' hotel - read budget hotel for Japan. I have stayed in budget hotels in many countries. This one is probably the best that I have ever stayed at. Friendly, helpful staff free amenities including bottled water, free yukata , fridge in the room, hot water kettle, soaps, shampoo, shower cap and all, this hotel has it all. Nice room, good size, excellent light bulb in ceiling plus lamps. My room is in the back of the building - nice and quiet, some greenery outside the window.
At breakfast on the second day there were all of the foods provided yesterday plus a tray filled with all kinds of breads. I chose something green with seeds on it - it turned out to be a pastry filled with sweet bean paste. Delicious!
Another nice day trip is to Kamakura:
I went to watch the traditional archery (Yabusame) exhibition. The town of Kamakura has lovely narrow old lanes, tiny houses with small, blooming gardens and trees.
The Yabusame itself was exciting. There were long halts between the rides of each of the 4 competitors and again at the end of each round waiting for them to begin the next round. A sudden rush of powerful horses going at top speed, the shot, an arrow singing, crash of the arrow into the masking paper and board to hit the hidden target behind it. I was standing right next to the run-up of the horses, could have reached out and touched them.
Crowds! Crushing, pushing, pressing...Nobody seemed to mind.
Then visited the Hachiman Shrine. Long climb up high steps - worth the effort. Tried the fortune telling sticks. Ended up tying the paper to the straw ropes to ward off the bad part of fortune.
Lunch was okonomiyaki , a non-sweet pancake. The place was a small, dark room with a huge grill and an eating bar around it. Tasty.
Returned to Tokyo and began to search the station - an entire underground city - getting lost makes one feel like Dr. Livingston! Despite excellent signs it is easy to take a wrong turning and lose one's sense of direction.
Found the JR Shinkansen Information counter but...I was sent from there to...and from there to...and from there to... Ooooffff! The ticket I wanted, the Puratto Kodama Economy Plan is considered a tour and not a ticket (Don't ask me why!). Finally I was directed to a tourist agency that sells the Plan and bought my ticket for the Kodama shinkansen to Kyoto. Excellent price, so worth the run-around, but I was oh so tired.
Took another 25 minutes to find the correct subway and then I got on a train going the wrong way! Had to get off at the next station and back track.
Last night tired as I was, I didn't set the alarm clock - whoooops! I slept till 11 am!! I was even more tired than I thought.
Went out for a local breakfast, spent a lazy day. At the local market bought an obento ("lunch box"). They are available everywhere with different kinds of foods. I tried something that I can't remember the name of...a slice of a of rice roll with fish bits, veggies and a bit of hard boiled egg yolk. Also a pouch of dough stuffed with sweetened rice. Tucked into the back of the box was a bit of marinated cabbage. A healthy, delicious lunch for only 550 Yen.
Visited Sensoji Temple with the 5 storied pagoda. The avenue leading to the temple is lined with kiosks that sell everything!
Tomorrow I leave for Kyoto.
- Pros:Lovely people, relaxing, different and fascinating.
- Cons:A bit too frenetic for my taste.
- In a nutshell:An entrancing and different trip.
A new Bus Pass can be used on overnight and daytime long distance buses. Best for major cities like Tokyo, Kyoto,... more travel advice
Tobu Railways offers various rail passes for visiting Nikko from Tokyo. It is a 2-hour trip. All of them include a round... more travel advice
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