Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Weekend Away: Nikko and Nasu

A friend from college invited me to spend the weekend at her hometown near Nikko, along with a few Waseda friends, to do some serious sight-seeing, eating and onsen-ing. Of course, I totally refused to go, and was completly unenthusiastic about the whole thing (yeah, right). As fascinating as Tokyo is, it is nice to go somewhere three trees do not constitute a forest (lame kanji joke, sorry).

While the initial rain was a bit of a worry, it turned out to be a lovely trip. Toshogu (the famous temple with the three monkeys) is a gorgeous collection of steeply built wooden halls, with over-the-top dragon decorations, brilliantly patterned walls, and lots of images of creatures the sculptor had obviously only ever heard about (such as tigeresque looking elephants and the weirdest interpretation of a unicorn I have ever come across).

We also headed over to the Kegon Falls and lake, nestled in the mountains, and were rewarded with a stunning sunset, clouds so close you could reach out and touch them, and (of course) delicious deep-fried yuba! The whole area has a bit of a Showa-era feel to it, and I love that the pictures all seem to have this charming vintage-effect.

However, my favorite part of the whole weekend was the onsen. I LOVE onsen. Whatever magical, mystical properties they claim to have, I believe it all! There is nothing better than scrubbing off, then jumping from pool to pool amidst the spirals of steam. It is also the perfect place for girl talk, and unsurprisingly got seriously quizzed about my current 'guy hunting' (ha, hardly...)

Waking up under fluffy futon, with gloriously smooth skin, we spent the next day driving around Nasu, a little town surprisingly full of odd things. For instance, the Asian Old Bazaar, a collection of South East Asian and vaguely Tibetan buildings housing import shops and restaurants, all staffed by the cutest hippie chicks you could imagine. The food was fabulous, and is well-worth a visit for that fact alone... along with their really awesome scarves, which of course I totally did not buy...  (you see the scarf I totally didn't buy in the crazy pic below). The Trick Art Museum is a rather eccentric little place, which makes for some awesome photos ( I never expected to see the Sistine Chapel in Tochigi!)

Before heading to the train station, the last view from the top of the mountains was splendid. Despite the blue sky renegade flakes of snow fell, whisked around by the cold wind, making us realize that winter is truly upon us.


  1. beeautiful~! i want to go there~~!

  2. Nice! I've been there once but with family haha and you got to visit the trick art museum! I wonder if it's the same as the one I visited in Seoul...

  3. Hi Sarah, it is really neat :) The drive from Nasu to Nikko was pretty awesome, I'm a bid fan of little inaka towns.

    Hi Monica, I'm pretty sure the museums are similar. There are actually 3(!) of them in Nasu, but we went to the most 'artistic' ;P

  4. GORGEOUS photos, I wish I had the time and money to go to Nikko~

  5. Hi Carly :)
    Staying with my friend really helped.... of course I then bought a scarf, which was not in the plans.
    Make sure you go somewhere fun in the near future. I've heard Hakone is amazing!

  6. That looks like an awesome weekend trip! :D I love the monkey temple!! That's probably one of my faves in Japan. But I've never heard of the Trick Museum. Now I really wanna goooo ;o; I know there was a trick house like that in Edo-Tokyo Land. But whole museum sounds pretty neat :D
    Weekend trips to the mountains are definitely good for the soul ♥ lol

  7. Hi Nana,
    I bet there is one somewhere near Osaka, as apparently there are ones in both Tokyo and Seoul.
    And I totally agree, a couple days of inaka are a cure all (along with the onsen;p)

  8. I agree. Used to live near Osaka and I liked the area, but sometimes it was nice to get out into the countryside.

  9. Yup, if we are lucky enough to live in a cool country, we should see as much as possible of it :)

  10. 3! I had no idea there were that many. Glad you found the best one :)

  11. Great blog! I loved my short visit to Nikko when I went.
    To be honest, I spent most of my time in Onsens. :)

  12. Hi Noire,
    thank you :) There is nothing wrong with spending inordinate amounts of time in onsen, they are one of the great joys of Japan!