Thursday, August 4, 2016

2016 Japan Vacation, Days 13-14: Nikko

After our late night return from Yokohama, we slept in a bit later and relaxed in the morning before heading out late morning. We were headed to Nikko, a beautiful area about a two-hour drive north of Tokyo.

Our hotel had a view of the mountains and the river that ran below.

It was cloudy, and storms were threatening. When the hotel made the decision to close the outdoor pool, Kai was very upset. This would be one of the few hotels we were staying at on this trip that had a swimming pool. As before, Kai did not take the disappointment very well.

Later in the afternoon, we did use the outdoor four (public bath). I enjoyed the view of the mountains and Kai was fine, but I don't think it was as fun for him as the pool would have been.

After the ofuro, we dressed in our yakuza (casual summer kimono). Mom helped Kai with his obi (sash).

At various places on our vacation, we've taken photos of the three of us for possible use on our holiday cards. The following may be a strong candidate.

Then it was time for dinner. Our hotel had a buffet dinner that rivals one we had in Beppu two years ago the last time we were in Japan.

There was a wide selection of food that spanned Japanese, Chinese, and western food. My wife had sushi, other Japanese dishes, and steak.

My father-in-law had the crab legs, among other things.

Kai gave the thumbs up to shrimp tempura, boiled shrimp, crab legs, and potatoes.

Here is a photo of my dessert plate.

The next morning, we drove to Nikko National Park. Our first destination there was Kegon Falls.

An elevator takes you down to where you can get a good view of the falls. The elevator itself is interesting as the shaft was cut directly into the mountain. When you get off the elevator, you have to walk through a cave-like tunnel that is very cool compared to the outside temperature. At the end of the tunnel, you come out to the platform where you view the falls.

The area is known to have wild monkeys, though we did not see any. The souvenir stands sell all sorts of things with monkeys on them, including this monkey's butt candy. Funny, I didn't find that to be very appetizing.

The other place we went to was Tosho-gu, one of the most famous and lavish shrines in Japan. The shrine complex actually consists of more than a dozen buildings in a beautiful forest setting.

Here we are at the Ishidorii, stone tori gate at the entrance.

The Shinkyusha stable is for the shrine’s sacred horses. There is a frieze of eight panels of carvings of monkeys running around the building, depicting the lives of ordinary people. Monkeys have been regarded as guardians of horses since ancient times.

The frieze are currently being renovated so we saw a recreation of the famous “See No Evil, Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil” carving of three monkeys.

The omizuya is used to purify body and mind by washing one’s hands and rinsing out one’s mouth before worshiping the enshrined deity.

Nemurineko (Sleeping Cat) is designated as a National Treasure. Traditionally attributed to the master carver Hidari Jingorou, this carving of a cat dozing while surrounded by peonies and bathed in sunlight is also said to be a depiction of nikko (sunlight).

Karamon Gate a also a National Treasure. The entire gate is painted with a white powder chalk. It features intricate carvings of Kyoyu and Soho (legendary Chinese sages), an audience with the emperor, and other scenes.

The trees throughout are magnificently tall and statuesque.

After that, we rushed back to the hotel to make sure we got to go to the pool. Rain was forecasted for later in the day, and we didn't want to disappoint Kai again.

After the pool time, we went to Saru Gundan where we saw a comic show featuring trained monkeys. No photographs were permitted during the show, but we saw a couple of the monkeys afterward.

After that, we went to Tobu World Square, an outdoor park/museum that has reproductions of 102 world-famous buildings on the 1/25 scale, including 45 World Heritage Sites.

I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the reproductions, and it was fun seeing places we had been to before, including several that we saw on this vacation, as well as places we would love to see someday.

Here's St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.

And this is Kiyomizu-dera, the beautiful Buddhist temple in Kyoto.

For dinner, we again had the spectacular buffet at the hotel. I had sashimi, crab legs, and steak. Kai had beef curry.

And we had plenty of desserts. Among mine were three different flavors of ice cream. I wanted to try flavor I cannot get back home so I had tomato, pumpkin, and orange.

Our vacation is rapidly coming to an end. Tomorrow we will leave Nikko and return to Tokyo for the final couple of days.


  1. The 1/25th scale park seemed very interesting.

    Monkey butt candy....only in Japan! :)

    Kai is having such a great experience there. He has seen and done so many things which he will remember for the rest of his life. Your wife's parents are also having a wonderful time, I am sure. To have their daughter and her family over must be a treat for them.

  2. And yes...that picture would make an excellent Christmas photo.
    That photo is very nice. Your personalities come right through.

    1. Thanks, Shiroi.

      We're all having a great experience. Hopefully Kai will remember more than just which Pokemon he caught in Japan. :)

      I'm sure it will feel strange for all of us when we leave.


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