On my recent trip to Japan, we decided to take a day trip to Nikko, just a 45 minute train ride from Utsunomiya where we were staying! Once at the train station we bought bus tickets which let us get on and off buses without having to pay a fare each time. There were 2 different combo options. One was to visit the a few shrines (Toshogu Shrine being the major one) in town and then the second added a visit to Kegon Falls. We opted for the shrines and waterfall!
Our first stop was at Toshogu Shrine, dedicated to the first Tokugawa Shogun. There are many notable things to see here, so much so that it needs its own post! The most notable are the “Sleeping Cat”, the “crying Dragon” and the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” monkeys. The shrine is huge with over a dozen buildings on the complex, so large that it deserved its own post!
Through a wooded path you can get to Taiyu-in Temple and Taiyuinbo Shrine. This shrine is dedicated to lemitsu Tokugawa, the third Tokugawa Shogun. For a small fee, you can wander around through the gates and ornate buildings until you reach the main temple. After taking off your shoes, you can enter the first room of the Taiyu-in Temple to see elaborate decorations.
Right next door is the Nikko Futarasan Jinja shrine. This was described to us as more of a local shrine and was packed with people. Many people had purchased fortunes on ribbons and they were tied in areas around the shrine. Along the path up to the shrine there was a small structure for love wishes/prayers. One of them was loosely translated for us as “I wish I had a good boyfriend.”
We stopped for a quick lunch in town before the 50 minute bus ride to Kegon Falls. The restaurant had many booths that closed off with decorative sliding doors for privacy. I tried Katsu, a fried pork loin with a side of shredded cabbage. To dress the Katsu you powderize some grains and add tonkatsu sauce to the mix. After lunch we wandered through shops waiting for our bus. We visited the Kanaya Hotel Bakery and tried a bread roll with sweetened azuki beans inside. It was delicious!
Back on the bus, the road to Kegon Falls was long and winding up the mountainside. It took about 50 minutes from central Nikko to get to the stop. The Kegon Waterfall is almost 100 meters tall and the only outlet for Lake Chuzenji. We wondered around visiting shops, doing some souvenir-shopping around Kegon Falls until we made our way to the shores of Lake Chuzenji. The views were beautiful and a great ending to our time in Nikko!