Nov 23, 2010

Catching 紅葉 in Nikko

Yes! It's autumn! My favourite season! :D

And somehow, when you mention autumn, the first place I will think of is Nikko. Maybe because my first autumn was spent in Nikko, I guess. That's about 4 years ago, I think.

I revisited Nikko with Serene over the last weekend, after the Mid-Year Seminar. :)

It was already pretty late in autumn for Nikko, and the only places with autumn colours was the temple region.

So, of course, how can we not visit 東照宮 (toushouguu) when we are in Nikko.

It is famous for the three monkeys: Hear no evil, speak no evil and see no evil. Underneath the famous monkey carvings is the stable for the shogun's horse's offspring. It was shy though (I would be if I were it, too, with so many cameras pointing at me.), so I could not get any good shots of it.

It is also famous for the sleeping cat shrine, where it shows the sleeping cat carvings in front of the doves carvings. I lost my ticket at the stable though, so I did not get to see the carvings again, this round.

The autumn colours around the temple was really great though.

Another tourist spot we went was 神橋 (shinkyou). It will be lit up in the evening. But to walk on the bridge, you will need to pay 300yen.

You will probably see these words on almost all eateries in Nikko: 湯葉/ ゆば/ yuba, which is the first layer of soya from the tofu.

I like it best when it is in nama form, as yuba sashimi (part of our lunch at our 日帰り onsen):

And you must try this local speciality: あげ湯葉饅頭 (ageyubamanjuu)

Do not be taunted by the long queue. It is worth the wait. :)

The shop is near the Tobu-Nikko station, and is very easily recognizable by the long line that forms around it.

If you are looking for accomodation, you can try Turtle Inn Nikko. It now has an Annex as well. For two of us, a Western room with 2 separate beds and no attached bathroom, it costs about 9000yen.

The best part of the ryokan is that the staff are able to speak English. I simply love the hospitality at Turtle Inn. I was there 4 years ago, as well, and the standard of service never dropped. When you arrive, the staff/ owner will give you a map and show you the directions of how you can visit the nearby attractions by foot/ bus. She even gave us bus timings.

Amenities wise, there are 2 baths (sentou style) open to all guests. One of them is for a single person use, the other is for two-people use. You can lock the doors when using it. Great for foreigners who are not accustomed to onsen culture.

There is shared toilets at each floor, and also computers with internet, TV and vending machine and public phone in the common area.

If I am going back Nikko, I will stay at Turtle Inn again, and then order a 日帰り package at another Japanese style ryokan. :)

But I still miss the waterfall with the changing maple trees though. Ah.. next time, I shall go 中禅寺湖 (Chuzenji Lake) and catch the waterfall in autumn colours.

Some memories from 4 years ago, at the 龍頭滝 (Ryuuzu Waterfall):

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