Went to Japan, first day in Nikko

Earlier this month we went to Japan, for an extended period of time too.

This trip started with a visit to Nikko in the hopes to catch some of the fall colors there.

On November 7th our plane has arrived and for a change we used Keisei Skyliner to get out of Narita:

Keisei skyliner ticket
Skyliner ticket.

Keisei Skyliner inside

Keisei Skyliner inside
Skyliner inside.

Keisei Skyliner - baggage area
And a baggage area.

The Skyliner only took about 45 minutes to bring us to Nippori station where we planned to transfer to another train, but alas, we missed the connection and then while we tried to reroute, missed some more opportunities.

In the end getting to our Nikko hotel took us about 5 hours. 4 hours to get to the Nikko station and then 45 minutes on a taxi to the Chuzenji area where the hotel is located (it was too late for the buses to go already, the last bus departed at 6:30pm and we arrived there at 8:20pm)

The hotel we stayed at is of ryokan style, they serve their own dinner (and they are located in a forest too, so nowhere to go to, anyway), and it was too late for that when we arrived, so they just made us some onigiri, since we failed to get some food on the way.

Traditional Japanese sweets
Every day there also were some local sweets in the room to try out.

Morning view from backyard
Due to jetlag we woke up quite early and saw a great view from our window (and then walked out to the "backyard").

Morning view from backyard

Morning view from backyard
Last glimpse of fall.

Morning view from backyard

Morning view from backyard

Our first breakfast:

Breakfast, day1
That's how our table looked like when we have arrived to the dining hall.

Breakfast, day1
Some sort of a flat fish.

Breakfast, day1
Yuba - sheet of dried tofu (rolled up in this case). Yuba seems to be some sort of a local dish in Nikko area, since you see it everywhere.

Breakfast, day1
More tofu.

Breakfast, day1
More dishes have arrived.

Dining room
That's how the dining hall looks like.

As is customary in Japan, there are cute decorations all around.

Ryokan lobby

Ryokan lobby
Hotel lobby. There is some English speaking staff, but certainly not everybody can speak English good enough.

Red maple tree in front of Ryokan

Hotel Shikisai entrance
And the hotel entrance.

Since the hotel is in a forest, there's a free shuttle service to Chuzenji at any time, and also 11am shuttle bus to Nikko, we took it to go to the Toshogu shrine.

Sanbutso-do temple on reconstruction
Sanbutsu-do (Hall of three Buddhas) part of Rinno-ji temple. It's currently under reconstruction so we can only see the picture of the past might.

Tickets to Sanbutsu-do

Medallion from top of the gate
Medallion that's normally posted above gate to one of the Buddhas.

One of the three Buddhas
Only one of the three Buddhas (Amida) was up for display, the other two were under restoration too.

Strange elephant
As is customary in Japan, the place has a "no photos" policy, but I just cannot miss these strange ideas about elephants.

Reconstruction site
This is the actual hall area - not much left untouched.

View of Nikko from Daibutsu-do
View of Nikko from Sanbutsu-do.

Small pond with green water
Behind the hall there are two ponds, one is smallish with green water and no signs of aquatic life.

Fish in pond
The other pond is much bigger, it also has fish, though it's not very colorful.

And a waterfall.

Fall colors in Nikko

Fall colors in Nikko

Entrance to Toshogu shrine
And now we are at the entrance to the Toshogu shrine.

Tickets to Toshogu

Soon past the entrance is the famous three monkey building with pictures about three monkeys.

Three monkeys panel
A mother-monkey is looking far into the future of her child and the child is looking at the mother.

Three monkeys panel
Three monkeys tell us that children "hear no evil, "say no evil" and "see no evil".

Three monkeys panel
And now he's about to be independent.

Three monkeys panel
He is ambitiously looking up.

Three monkeys panel
He is love-sick.

Three monkeys panel
A newly-wed couple is going to sail the rough waves of life together

Three monkeys panel
She is a pregnant mother and we return to the first scene.

Yomeimon gate under reconstruction
Yoneimon gate is under reconstruction too.

View from Yomeimon gate
View from the Yoneimon gate.

View from Yomeimon gate

Row of lanterns

Karamon gate
And this is Karamon gate that is not under reconstruction.

Black dragon on Karamon gate
There are some black dragons on top of it.

Decoration on karamon gate
The gate itself is richly decorated.

Toshogu emblem by the karamon gate
And family emblem at the gate side.

Sacred palanquin house
Sacred palanquin house.


Kirin Beer
Lots of sake and beer (also all buddhas we have seen had a lot of sake in front of them as gifts. A priest told us Buddhas like wine and so people reward them with wine whenever their wishes are granted).

Stone turtle
A stone turtle, a lot of them around temple grounds.

Inner shrine way
On the way to the inner shrine (a large staircase).

Sleepign cat gate

Sleeping cat
Famous "sleeping cat" picture over the inner temple entrance..

Shoes removal area to enter stone room
Before entering the stone room everybody takes their shoes off.

White dragon ornament at the stone room entrance
Stone room itself is again a "no pictures" area, but we can see some of the entrance decorations from outside - white dragons.

White dragon ornament at the stone room entrance

White dragon ornament at the stone room entrance

Three sacred warehouse ornament
Ornament on the three sacred warehouse side. A normal elephant and a strange one.

From Toshogu shrine we went to Taiyuin mausoleum (also part of Rinno-ji).

Around Taiyu-in temple

Around Taiyu-in temple

One of four Taiyu-in temple guardians
Classic gate with four guardians (this is one of them).

Taiyu-in temple

The Taiyuin itself. Inside we were given some lecture (all in Japanese) about the shogun and stuff, but I understoon probably only a single word out of 20. I clearly got probably half of the speech was a sales pitch for some souvenirs, though.

water fountain at Taiyu-in temple

water fountain at Taiyu-in temple
Wash basin at the entrance with a pretty long aqueduct.

After that we returned to Nikko station to have some lunch.


Tanuki udon
Tanuki udon.

Nikko-tobu station
Tobu-Nikko train station.


Tobu bus driver
And we took a public bus to Chuzenji (1100 yen).

Dribing on a tobu bus

Our room in Ryokan
This is our traditional Japanese room in the hotel.

Separate dining room at ryokan
Private dining room (costs extra, so we never ordered one).

Dinner, day 1
Dinner (initial appearance)

Beef with italian salad - Dinner, day 1
Salad with beef and italian dressing.

Dinner, day 1

Shrimp soup - Dinner, day 1
Some sort of a shrimp soup.

Sashimi plate - Dinner, day 1
Sashimi dish - very tasty, though Ksusha somehow did not appreciate it.

Sashimi plate - Dinner, day 1

Sashimi plate - Dinner, day 1

Dinner, day 1
Some sort of a steamed fish with yuba, mushroom and vegetables.

Tempura - Dinner, day 1

Soba - Dinner, day 1

Rice leftovers afer dinner
And rice.

sake containers
Samurai-style sake cup and holder. ;)

This concludes the first day in Nikko.

Also since I do not know when we'll have the other days, getting ahead of time I can say that we moved to Tokyo since then and because we are in Japan for an extended period of time, we rented an appartment there, around Ningyocho station.

Kind of a small one so I am already regretting it a bit and thinking we should have gotten a bigger one:

Our apartment
Main room that also hosts a bed.

Tiny "kitchen" in hallway.

Hallway and kitchen

Tiny bathroom with tiny bath.


Balcony view

under balcony
And balcony views.

We are greatly enjoying our time here and aside from three small eartquakes and the somewhat small space everything else is cool, great food, ability to order from Amazon-Japan with free delivery on the next day and some ability to practice Japanese "in the wild".