Nikko Part 1 – Travel and Hotel
During this past Valentine’s weekend, we visited the town of Nikko, about 140 km north of Tokyo. Located about 200 to 2,000 meters (for the surrounding mountainous regions) above sea level, Nikko is a popular destination for Japanese and tourists alike – it is very crowded during weekends, but especially during the cherry blossoms (spring), summer (because of its cooler weather), fall colors and winter (snow). Fortunately, we picked the low season, so we avoided the crowds, but the views weren’t spectacular – no leaves on trees, no snow on the ground.
We traveled by Tobu Railway. For 3,600 yen (US$36), we bought the World Heritage Pass, which included a round trip train ticket (unreserved seats on a local train only), entrance to 2 shrines and 1 temple and unlimited use of the local city bus for 2 days. As a treat, we took a private compartment on the Tobu Railway Spacia Limited Express which costs an extra 3,000 yen ($30) per person and 2,400 yen ($24 for the compartment).
After a relaxing 2 hours, we arrived at the Tobu-Nikko station at around 9:30 am, and it was eerily quiet.
We took the local city bus to go sight-seeing (future blog post) before checking into our hotel in the afternoon. We stayed at Hotel Tokugawa, a small, modern ryokan (Japanese inn), with a few Western-style rooms (ours was a combination as seen in the picture below).
Our hotel room had a very nice view of a small private garden, as well as a private hot tub in the outdoor balcony.
In the center of the hotel, there was also a quiet, large garden and a pond full of fishes. Without colorful leaves or snow, the garden looks pretty bare.
Dinner was served in our room, a traditional, multi-course (not all courses pictured below) Japanese meal – it was very delicious!
One of the attractions of Nikko is onsens or hot springs. Our hotel had both an indoor and outdoor onsen (separated into men and women). During our short overnight stay, we enjoyed the onsen 3 times and didn’t see any other guests. So I was able to sneak in my camera and take some pictures and a video of the indoor and outdoor onsen.
We ended our stay with a traditional Japanese breakfast in the morning, and finished our sightseeing before heading back to Tokyo.
Next blog post – sightseeing at Nikko, which is also famous for its world heritage sites.