Be one with Nikko

Day 5 · Nikko, Tochigi Scroll down

After a hefty, Hawaiian-themed breakfast, we hopped on the Shinkansen to visit some of the UNESCO World Heritage temples and shrines of Nikko.

Lena on the waiting line for breakfast.

Lena on the waiting line for breakfast.

Seared ahi tuna, peppery potatoes and 2 over-easy eggs.

Seared ahi tuna, peppery potatoes and 2 over-easy eggs.

We found a place to have brunch in Tokyo that was literally 5 minutes away, but the first time we went there there was a huge line for it. We did not get discouraged, though. Usually when a restaurant has a line, it means its good, so we would not let this pass. So we got up early and got there just in time for opening hour, and there was already a line for it, but it was totally worth it.

The place is called Eggs n’ Things and the Hawaiian vibe was back on again. We had eggs Benedict and ahi tuna for breakfast with fluffy pancakes with a mountain of whipped cream on top. No, of course we didn’t have lunch.

On our first leg to Tokyo station to hop on the Shinkansen.

On our first leg to Tokyo station to hop on the Shinkansen.

The famous Shinkansen!

The famous Shinkansen!

The Shinkansen is mainly used by business men.

The Shinkansen is mainly used by business men.

The ride is surprisingly smooth at 300 km/h, which allows people to get some rest, as usual.

The ride is surprisingly smooth at 300 km/h, which allows people to get some rest, as usual.

This kid was a fan of the ride. She also had squealing shoes.

This kid was a fan of the ride. She also had squealing shoes.

In Japan, everything is about presentation.

In Japan, everything is about presentation.

At Ustunomiya, our connection station, we got some typical Japanese snacks: dried octopus, edamame, soy eggs, fried cheese sticks and spicy fried corn.

At Ustunomiya, our connection station, we got some typical Japanese snacks: dried octopus, edamame, soy eggs, fried cheese sticks and spicy fried corn.

Even in the supermarket there are queueing guides.

Even in the supermarket there are queueing guides.

After that it was time to visit Nikko. Once again, we used our JR Passes to travel more than 140 km north of Tokyo, using two different lines (one of them an über-fast Shinkansen) and book seat reservations — those two alone were more than 100 USD per person, which we got for free thanks to our Passes.

Gorgeous countryside landscapes.

Gorgeous countryside landscapes.

On a local train from Ustunomiya to Nikko.

On a local train from Ustunomiya to Nikko.

At the city entrance, in Nikko, there's a welcoming fountain where you can drink some fresh mountain water.

At the city entrance, in Nikko, there’s a welcoming fountain where you can drink some fresh mountain water.

Main square in Nikko.

Main square in Nikko.

In Nikko, city lights were adorned by dragons.

In Nikko, city lights were adorned by dragons.

On the way to the shrines, we got on the wrong path, but it lead us to the most beautiful view of Nikko and the mountains behind.

On the way to the shrines, we got on the wrong path, but it lead us to the most beautiful view of Nikko and the mountains behind.

Crossing the bridge to the right side of town.

Crossing the bridge to the right side of town.

Drying coats outside?

Drying coats outside?

On the second — this time around, local — train we saw some of the most fantastic landscapes in Japan. It still amazes us how the scenery can change so drastically in just a few miles when a field is left untouched, when there’s no influence of man around.

Nikko is a small city located at the entrance of Nikko National Park and it’s known for an enormous shrine called the Tosho-gu. This shrine complex was made in honor of the shoguns of the Tokugawa period, who ruled Japan in the Edo period, for 268 years.

Shinkyo bridge, a magical sight.

Shinkyo bridge, a magical sight.

Shinkyo bridge up close.

Shinkyo bridge up close.

Dragon sculpture served as a fountain.

Dragon sculpture served as a fountain.

This looked like a private house right beside the temples.

This looked like a private house right beside the temples.

Who wouldn't like a house gate like this?

Who wouldn’t like a house gate like this?

This complex is located between the perfect combination of mountains, forests and waterfalls, and the way it’s made out of wood makes you undoubtedly look around and easily imagine samurais strolling around.

The walk to Futarasan was nothing short of epic.

The walk to Futarasan was nothing short of epic.

Main entrance to Futarasan shrine; straight out of a samurai's book.

Main entrance to Futarasan shrine; straight out of a samurai’s book.

Another entrance to Futarasan.

Another entrance to Futarasan.

Futarasan shrine is literally surrounded by forest on all sides.

Futarasan shrine is literally surrounded by forest on all sides.

One of the many buildings of Futarasan shrine, each more beautiful than the next.

One of the many buildings of Futarasan shrine, each more beautiful than the next.

Futarasan entrance tori seen from inside the shrine grounds.

Futarasan entrance tori seen from inside the shrine grounds.

Looking into the shrine.

Looking into the shrine.

Closing shop at Futarasan.

Closing shop at Futarasan.

The almost overwhelming atmosphere is so peaceful, so pure and untouched that you want to stay there forever, and enjoy all that peacefulness and quiet. A Japanese saying goes “Never say ‘kekko’ (beautiful) until you’ve seen Nikko” — and it couldn’t be more true.

The five-story Pagoda near Tosho-gu.

The five-story Pagoda near Tosho-gu.

Surrounding temples of Futarasan.

Surrounding temples of Futarasan.

You can truly feel something bigger in a place like this.

You can truly feel something bigger in a place like this.

Tosho-gu shrine grounds behind walls; unfortunately it was closed when we got there.

Tosho-gu shrine grounds behind walls; unfortunately it was closed when we got there.

Tiny store in Nikko.

Tiny store in Nikko.

The Shinkansen that would take us back to Tokyo.

The Shinkansen that would take us back to Tokyo.

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