With our tiny roller bags packed we were on our way to explore the Japanese countryside.
Many people visit Nikko on a day trip from Tokyo but we decided to stay two nights and spend time absorbing the local village life and viewing a range of very special temples and buildings.
Before leaving the Park Hotel the tour director kindly phoned our host in Nikko to organise a pick up from the Nikko JR station.
Today we used our JR passes for the first time. Remember to always go past the ticket office and show your pass, when entering or leaving train stations.
From Shimbashi station we used the Yamanote Line to return to Tokyo station. We then found the Shinkansen platforms for our first bullet train ride.
We caught the Shinkansen Yamariko 207 to Utsunomiya. We then boarded the JR Nikko Line for Nikko. This was a quaint tourist train that delivered us to the JR station in Nikko. The journey from Tokyo to Nikko was 150 km and took us 125 minutes. There was a quicker and more direct train trip available but this was with a private train company not covered by the JR pass- so make sure to use the Hyperdia app to plan your journey on JR services.
On arrival our host from Nikko Akarinoyado Villa Revage was waiting to collect us from the station. He drove us through the village, pointed out his restaurant recommendations and dropped us the Shinkyo bridge, just outside the World Heritage temple precinct. He took our bags back to the ryokan.
We enjoyed a lunch at a popular spot called “Eat Asia” was with locals and a range of Japanese hikers. Lunch was a delicious ramen and included a mysterious key ingredient called Yuba. This we later discovered was a local specialty made from the skin that forms when soya beans are curdled to make Tofu.
The afternoon was spent visiting two temples; Rinno- Ji Treasure House and Temple and the Futarasan Shrine. So many grand shrines, buildings, view points and steps!
We then followed the main road and located our ryokan. Villa Revage had three very special private onsen rooms for us to use. Our host explained the bath house rules and protocol. Onsens are fun and very relaxing.
Nikko closes down with sunset. It was quite a walk to find a restaurant open after dark. We dined at “Zen” where the menu matched the name. There were only two choices on the menu. We selected the Yuba rolls- these were like sushi but used Yuba instead of seafood. The food was delicious especially when accompanied by a local beer.
We walked a fair distance back to the ryokan and passed “Lawson Station” a convenience store. We found these shops everywhere across Japan, they were great to pick up a simple snack or treat.
The local bus in Nikko also used the Suica card so we could have caught the bus back if we wanted. We enjoyed the walk, even if there were spots of rain along the way.