Last Saturday, I went with a friend on a hiking trip to Nikko in Togichi, Japan. I had wanted to go earlier but I was very busy with some tests last week, so I couldn’t, but I heard that the leaves were even more gorgeous just few days before.
There are many things to do in Nikko such as hiking, visiting shrines & temples, enjoying the Japanese onsen, etc. It is recommended to stay one or two nights in Nikko, but my budget was kind of tight so I only went there for a day-trip. My priority was to see the leaves and visit the beautiful shrines in Nikko, including the famous Toshogu, the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate.
I and my friend planed the trip by ourselves. We bought a train pass which included a round trip from Tokyo to Nikko and unlimited use of trains and bus within Nikko for an affordable price, got on the train at 8:00am, spent a whole day in Nikko, and left for Tokyo at around 5pm. I need to give credit to Japan for how they make things so easy for tourists. Maps, recommended itineraries, directions, etc are all available on websites such as: Japan National Tourist Organization, JR East, Tobu Travel, etc. The customer service in Japan is really wonderful. There are English speakers at many tourist information tables, and all maps, directions, and guides are also available in English, and I had not had any problem communicating to local people with my so-so level of Japanese.
I have seen many photos all around the internet before I came to Nikko, so it wasn’t to my surprise how beautiful Nikko was. However, seeing a photo and actually being there are completely two different experience. I wish I could record all the sounds of the leaves rustling and the smell of the fresh air in my photos.
The only unfortunate thing about our trip was that we underestimated the cold weather in Nikko. It is said that Nikko is at the same height level of Tokyo Sky Tree (634 meters), so it is pretty cold in fall. I can’t remember why I decided to wear a light jacket with no hat, no gloves. Both I and my friend caught a cold after the trip, and we still haven’t recovered yet >__<