A couple weeks ago, the entire IES Tokyo program went on a field trip to Nikko, a city located in the mountains of Tochigi Prefecture. In two days, we visited everything the area is known for: the Futarasan shrine, the mausoleum of shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, an onsen, and a gorgeous mountainside ravine located in Nikko National Park. Everything was absolutely gorgeous. Remember how in my previous posts I talked about the beauty of the nature in Kanazawa? Nikko is just as stunning, if not more so. You’ll see why!
The first area — or should I say areas — we visited were both the Futarasan shrine and the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu. They are within walking distance from each other. The shrine is easily distinguishable, as it has a large Shinto gate and many stone lantern sculptures surrounding it. There was a beautiful forest surrounding the buildings, and the trees were so tall! Glimmers of sunlight peeked down through the foliage and made for a very beautiful and mystical atmosphere.
And would you take a look at the mausoleum on the lower right? It’s rather grand! The structure itself is pretty tall. When we visited, parts of the area were under construction, which was a shame. We didn’t get to see the whole thing! But we definitely got a glimpse of the architecture style, and it was a sight to behold.
After going to the shrine and mausoleum, we went straight to our hotel to spend the night. It was probably one of the fanciest hotels I’ve been to! I can’t actually remember the name of it right now, but it is supposed to be one of the most popular hotels in all of Nikko. The rooms all had a sitting area and comfortable tatami mat beds. The best part was the onsen on the roof. Once we got comfortable with shedding all of our clothes in public, we were able to soak in the hot bath while watching the stars peek out from behind the mountains.
The next day, we headed to the ravine in Nikko National Park. It is honestly one of the most stunning nature areas I’ve ever been to! After walking down some steep wooded steps, we arrived at an area full of white rock, sand, and clear blue water. It was fantastical in its beauty. Some of us sat on rocks and contemplated life for a while — the atmosphere made everyone so introspective! There was silence and bird song all around us.
We then headed on up the trail and found ourselves surrounded by a forest woodland. It was late November, so the leaves had finally turned color. Some of them shone so brightly in the sunlight that they appeared to be leaves of fire. I couldn’t get over where I was at that point in time — I felt like I belonged in some ancient Japanese historical drama!
The last thing we did was go to a wood-carving workshop. We had previously picked out designs, and mine was a maple leaf! This is how it turned out. Overall, Nikko was a blast. It was so beautiful and refreshing, I wished we had stayed for longer than two days! I would recommend going there to anyone and everyone — I liked it that much.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hello! My name is Marisa Lewis, and I am an East Asian International Relations Major/East Asian Studies Minor at the University of Virginia. I’m originally from Alexandria, Virginia (though I’ve got a lot of family in Thailand as well) and am super excited to be traveling to Japan! I’ve only ever been to the Japanese airport before – their toilets are awesome, by the way – and have always wanted to experience Japanese culture ever since I first started watching Pokémon as a kid. Don’t lie. You watched it, too! In my spare time I love to read, write short stories, bake, listen to music, and have adventures. I am looking forward to making new friends, stocking up on Japanese sweets, and experiencing all that Japan has to offer! But more importantly, stocking up on Japanese sweets. Where my mochi at?</span></p>