Sweeping, flourished greenery, engulfing an abundance of towering mountains; Japan is much more than the bustling city life it’s known for. Simply driving along a highway can weave travellers between monstrous, lush mountains, and alongside crystal lakes.
These unique scenes were served on a platter on my most recent venture to Japan’s city in the mountains - Nikko.
After a few days of immensely enjoying the bustle of Tokyo, we decided to trade another day in the city for a trip to the acclaimed, Nikko National Park. We set off to Nikko, looking forward to this change of scenery. Located 2 hours North of Tokyo, we expected the drive to be an aspect of the day we would simply have to endure. But instead we were treated to a collection of remarkable landscapes, all enjoyed from our comfortable, fully air-conditioned coach.
We swayed through towering mountains, engulfed in lush green shrubbery and alongside an ever extending, peaceful lakeside paradise. All of these memorable scenes made the drive not only bearable but immensely entertaining.
Tucked beneath a towering forest is a shrine established in the early 1600s – the Nikkō Tōshō-gū Shrine. We arrive at the shrine later in the morning, eager to begin exploring. Through a long, straight path bordered with a collection of enormous trees, our tour guide led us up to the gates of the temple. Upon arrival we witnessed colourful pagodas and large torii gates. We entered the grounds, marvelling at the vibrantly decorated buildings surrounding us.
We learnt that these buildings had been decorated with gold leaf and a variety of impressive wooden carvings. One of the more well-known carvings was of the three wise monkeys – see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Walking amongst the Nikkō Tōshō-gū Shrine was a very serene experience, and being with a tour group allowed us to delve deeper into the fascinating history of this popular tourist attraction.
After enjoying a complimentary traditional Japanese lunch, we travelled approximately 20 minutes to a lake created over 20,000 years ago. Lake Chūzenji is located within the mountains of Nikko, and was created as a result of a volcanic eruption. We drove up a winding road, and eventually alongside the border of this seemingly endless lake, in awe of its clear waters, and the abundance of neighbouring mountains.
We made our way to Kegon Falls. This waterfall is not only known to be the most popular waterfall in Nikkō National Park, but also a waterfall ranked as one of the most beautiful in Japan. It’s easy to say that it lives up to this reputation. After walking down to the free observation deck, we witnessed the beauty of Kegon falls, peaking through an array of lush, green maple trees. Time mindlessly slipped by as we listened to the calming sound of water propelling off into a 100m drop.
Although we continued to enjoy the buzz of Tokyo for the remainder of our trip, trading one day for the opportunity to experience captivating temples, tranquil waterfalls and sweeping countrysides showed to be a worthy decision.
Nikko proved to be a vastly beautiful location, providing us with a change of scenery that was well received. Japan has no shortage of bustling, colourful cities to discover and explore. However, taking time away from the city and uncovering new destinations can open up a new side of this country to appreciate.
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