Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Day 4 - Nikko (Tuesday)

Our original plan for day 4 was to go to the Tsukiji fish market very early in the morning but unfortunately that did not work. The subway opened at 6AM and we woke up at 7AM. we then changed our plans and went back to one of my original ideas of going to Nikko. We packed our bags and checked out from the hotel and headed to the JR ticket office where we were informed that the next train available only left at 10:35AM, so we had to wait for about 1h30 at Shinjuku. Lesson learned: make your reservations in advance. They have no cost if you hold a JR pass and it can only save you time and give you peace of mind.We stopped by the JR travel center (called View Plaza - pronounced Byu Puraza) but they did not have any information in English so it was a waste of time.

We had a quick connection at Shimo-Imaichi before reaching Tobu Nikko station (these stations are roughly 8 min apart). At the Tobu Nikko station, they have a very helpful staff that speaks good English and off we went to take the bus towards the shrines and temples. We didn't realize that there were two bus routes and we ended up missing the stop that we wanted so we had to take a 150m walk back from the Taiyu-in mausoleum entrance to the Toshugu shrine. It was a very pleasant walk with huge trees standing at both sides of the unpaved steet giving a very soothing atmosphere to the whole place. The Treasury house is located in this street.
Another poor planning made us loose some precious time. We should have taken the spare time at Shinjuku to buy some bento box or something else. When we got there, we were hungry and ended up eating at the restaurant/souvenir shop located in the end of this street that we came through. We ordered Curry Rice, pork loin and rice, and Yuka Soba. Food was OK but the place had too many flies...

The suggestion at the ticket office was to start the tour from the Treasure Hall but we skipped that and went straight to the Rinno Temple. Apparently there are guided tours that goinside the temple where the 3 gods standing 8m tall are located. I caught bits and pieces of the tour guide explanation with mybroken japanese and understood that the gods represented a family (father, mother and a child) and each one was responsible toprotect different things.

From there we went upstairs and visited the whole Tosho-Gu complex. Every little corner seems to be one of those "Kodak" moments and you can spend hours recording and taking pictures of the pagoda, the gates and all the buildings. The place really deserves to be one of the World Heritages. Unfortunately the main hall façade is under rennovation so it did not allow for a good picture. I assume that the this place is visited by groups of tourists and students all year around. On that day in particular there was a group of elementary students that was sitting on the grounds of the complex and getting yelled at by their monitor/supervisor. Apparently a few of them got too excited about the visit and misbehaved. It was interesting to seethe group mentality in action. The whole group was getting reprimended and the instructor went on and on about the embarassment of having to do that in such a sacred place and in front of a lot of people. They had to stay quiet for several minutes to ponder on the reasons why they were here and their responsibilities as visitors.

We then had to rush to Futura-san Jinja. By the time we got there we realized that our schedule was too tight and we would not have timeto do anything else. We just took some pictures from the outside and headed down to the Shinkyo (Sacred) bridge. This was kind of a disappointment. I thought it was going to be in a more secluded location, being sacred and all, but instead it was right by road with no signsand there was not even a decent pedestrian sidewalk surrounding it. From there, we took the bus back to the Tobu Nikko station.

I was worried that we would not make it on time for our train in which we had reserved seats since it was leaving at 4:45 from the Shimo-Imaichistation. Luckly that train actually left from Nikko Tobu station so we were fine. I did not understand why I had to pay for tickets at the Tobu station. EVentually the crew member that checks your tickets explained me that that line was a like a code share between JR and Tobu but it actually belonged to Tobu so I actually paid for a suplement (2,400 Yen for the three of us). The trip back was uneventful butI left with that feeling that I should have gotten there earlier and spend the whole day visiting the place. Hopefully there will be the chance for a next time.

We then went back to our hotel to pick up our luggage and headed to the Shinagawa district in Tokyo where an ex-MBA colleague leaves with her husband.They were so kind to rent a guest room in their apartment building. We took a nice shower (japanese style, including Ofuro!) and had an excellent dinner at their apartment. A real treat. It was actually our first experience sleeping on the tatami floor and I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed it.(maybe because my back has been bothering me lately and sleeping on a harder surface is better for your health).

1 comment:

Belita said...

que viagem bacana!
estamos esperando para ver as fotos.