I don’t trust weather forecast. Sorry, I just don’t. There are past experiences when they say that there is a strong typhoon coming but in fact its just another sunny day. This usually happens back home (all the time), turning me into a skeptic of weather science. So there I was, on an early Saturday morning on-board the limited express train bound to Nikko , traveling two hours away from Tokyo.
Never mind that the local television news program is advising everyone that Typhoon Talas was expected to arrive the same day and there is a 0% chance that the sun will make an appearance, what the heck, I’m still going. Well, I already bought the Tobu Nikko pass a week in advance, I don’t want my 3,600 Yen go to waste since refund is not allowed and maybe it will be just another wrong weather forecast.
Arriving at around 10am in the morning, I was welcome by the Typhoon Talas at the town of Nikko. It was raining mad and my umbrella wasn’t enough to protect myself from getting all soaked in rain. I don’t know what was in my coffee that morning but my stubbornness just reached its peak. Instead of checking the nearby temples-shrines and wait for the weather to be a bit better, what I did instead is board the bus that will take me high up to the mountains by passing the famous Irohazaka Winding Road.
After 50 minutes bus ride and still raining, I arrived at the station near Nikko Natural Science Museum together with handful of other hardheaded tourist. My first agenda is to see the 100meters Kegon Waterfall; it looks amazing on several web photos and I haven’t seen a beautiful waterfall for a long time. After few minutes of walking, I finally arrived. I cannot see the waterfall, too much fog was covering it and how could I possibly take any pictures when my one hand is holding the umbrella?
After patiently waiting for a few minutes, the fog was cleared, the waterfall has made an appearance and I managed to take some shots. Satisfied with whatever I saw, I decided to head to Lake Chuzenji located few blocks away. I was the only one walking the road, the nearby shops were closed, my shoes were completely soaked and I keep on telling myself that maybe this was a bad idea and should just stay in bed. But seeing Lake Chuzenji reminds me again why I love to do this, the place is just beautiful. It was very quiet; it was just me and two local guys who are fixing some buoy since the water is increasing. I want to stay there longer and just listen to the sound of the rain as it hits the lake water. I wonder how it looks like during autumn or spring?
Around 12 pm, I decided to head back to town and do the World Heritage Sites tour, I got a Nikko pass for this specifically. My first stop was the sacred Shinkyo Bridge which stands as the entrance to temples and shrines. I almost smile at this point since it looks like the sun will be shining but all my hopes are gone when it started to rain again. So I did the round- Rinnoji Temple, Toshogu Shrine, Taiyunbyo, Futurasan Shrine, with Typhoon Talas bringing more rain by the minute making the whole sightseeing inconvenient and fun of some sort. I have been to several temples and shrines around Japan and as much as I want to skip those in Nikko thinking that it will be the same as the others, I am still drawn it. They are just simply magnificent.
By 2:30pm in the afternoon, I was backed at the Tobu Nikko station and my stomach is growling. I went to the nearby café and ordered the cheesecake + coffee special. The owner of the shop is a very polite Japanese man and I was his only customer. I feel sorry for the shop owner, Saturday should be one of those incomes generating day but there are only few brave tourist who push thru with their weekend plans in spite of the bad weather. So, I ordered one more slice of cheesecake, another slice of chocolate cake, and another cup of coffee. I am full by the second cheesecake but it feels like that I need to order more as my way of helping him with his business.
I took the 3:01 pm train back to Tokyo, still raining but it feels so good to finally relax, remove my shoes and continue reading The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Train ride is one of the best part of my trip, seeing the beautiful and seldom boasted Japan’s countryside.
Everyone thought that Nikko will be affected by the recent 9.0 magnitude earthquake, but I did not see any damage on any temples, roads and establishments. I am planning to visit again during autumn to see the waterfalls, lake, mountain area and maybe go for another onsen experience.
One of my colleagues asked me where I spent my weekend; I told him I went to Nikko. He told me that most of them has been putting their plans of visiting Nikko on-hold since its located north of Tokyo, which means closer to the Fukishima area. I am stubborn I know. Goodluck with that.