Sunday, November 30, 2008

Nikko Getaway

So I am sorta posting a lot of blogs at once to catch up on November! Jenny and took a long weekend last weekend up to Nikko, north of Tokyo. It's a small city by American standards, considered inaka or countryside by Japanese standards. It was a peaceful getaway and highly recommended for a relaxing time spent in the outdoors. We stayed at a cool little hostel called Nikko Park Lodge. It's a small walk from the station, but Jenny and I are always walking everywhere on our trips, so it wasn't a big deal. The lodge is off across the river, surrounded by trees and walking trails. The dining room had big picture windows, so each morning we could look out and feel like we were in our sort of "secluded getaway" while we ate our AmAzInG costco muffins and french toast. Since it's quite a ways north of here, it was much colder than it's been here! Jenny and I were cold most of the day when we were out sightseeing, but the fall colors made it worth it. Nikko is surrounded by forest, mountains, rivers and lakes, making it an awesome place for spending time outdoors.

Nikko is full of woodcarving shops and world heritage sights, so it was definitely different from most other places we have seen so far in Japan. Of course, we hit up the "world heritage" shrines which are starting to be a little less than exciting for me, as I have seen a gazillion shrines and temples since arriving in Japan it seems. Nikko though has the famous "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" monkeys at one of their shrines, so that spiced it up a bit! We also took a day trip up to Kegon Falls and Lake Chuzenji and spent a lot of time looking around in the woodcarving shops. There is a lot of hiking that you can do around the area, and we really didn't take full advantage of that, because it was just a bit too cold we thought. The lakes and trees with fall colors reall made me feel like the place was familiar, almost like northern Minnesota, but with mountains :D The familiarity of it also made the trip that much better at a time when I had been missing home a lot!

We also had some good eats, mixing it up with Japanese, Korean and Indian food! We had THE best gyoza at one place that has walls covered in business cards, pictures and notes from all the people that have eaten there over the years. It was a small, friendly atmosphere with awesome food. The Indian place had THE best cheese naan, something I doubt we will find better anywhere in Japan!! So between the breakfasts at the lodge, the naan and the gyoza, we definitely ate well, another requisite to a relaxing northern weekend. I hope everyone else enjoyed the fall colors while they lasted. I am sure they ended long ago in Minnesota! My kerosene heater is quickly becoming a necessity as it gets colder and colder each day!

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