A day trip to Nikko 日光

The family have come to Tokyo!

This week has been a busy blur of travelling and sightseeing around Japan, so lots of blogs coming soon! After arriving last Sunday, I went to meet Mum and Will at their hotel in Shinjuku, Tokyo (about 15 mins from my house) and we had a wander around the area while they got used to the Japanese style and tried to get used to the jetlag a little.

On Monday we met with Doug and his friend who came in on a different flight the day before, and went to see some of the sights Tokyo has to offer. Meeting in Tokyo station, we had a 7-11 lunch and went first to the Imperial Palace, before heading on to (and up) Tokyo Tower, an international conference centre (Will’s studying architecture and it was quite a nice building) and the expensive shopping district of Ginza. We had dinner in a Korean restaurant in Ginza where they cooked the meal in front of us on the table, so we all had to wear attractive paper aprons to avoid any splatters from the grill. Was a good test of their chopstick ability, and slightly interesting as we weren’t really sure what was coming as I had to talk to the waiter in Japanese and lots of things were lost in translation.

Nevertheless, owing both to jetlag for some, and to getting up at 3.30am for the England match the night before for others, we were getting pretty tired by now and made plans to go the hot springs and temples  of Nikko the next day, famous for the statues of the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” monkeys.

Rise and shine bright and early Tuesday morning, for Nikko is over two hours away by train from a station the other side of Tokyo. To be honest the temples are hyped up quite a lot in the guidebooks as absolute must-sees and the day trip from Tokyo, but I don’t think they lived up to the hype. Maybe I’m just a bit templed out! It was good to see the famous monkeys, though they were pretty small so we had to wikipedia them to check they were the genuine article. There was a cool room in one of them where there was an echo in one half of it but not the other half, couldn’t decide how that worked.

We saw four temples in all, three forming a UNESCO World Heritage Site between them (the most impressive being Tosho-gu where the monkeys are), but I suppose ultimately it would have been better if it wasn’t so far from Tokyo. Was still knackered from the football the night before, and even more so after an early start and all day walking! More walking was to come however, as the next day I took the Shinkansen for the first time and joined Mum and Will on their journey to Osaka. That though, is a story for next time.