Cannot believe it has already been close to two months since my last trip to Tokyo. Life is back to normal but I have my photos and these travel journals to remind me of my experiences. I had an incredible time and made the most of being immersed in what I consider such a beautiful country and culture. In this new blog series, I will share with you my travel journal. Several times a day, I would take the time to update my travel journal with notes and thoughts and experiences as they occurred throughout my day. The images I share in these blogs will relate directly to those experiences. When it came to taking photos, I just went with the flow and didn’t put too much pressure on myself. On to the travel journal. 

Tuesday 28 May 2019 – Morning

I woke feeling the effects of the whisky trials from the night before. Not too bad but still a little dusty and foggy. I downed a lot of water but needed some food to soak it up. I made my way down to breakfast and they had a huge buffet in the same dining room as dinner last night. I made the most of all that was on offer and afterwards returned to my room to lie down for half an hour or so. Needed to let everything just settle down. Lol. Self inflicted totally. Worth it mostly. Look I had a nice night and was making the most of my holiday. But was it worth it? Well the hotel had already been pre-paid as part of my preparations for this trip. So the bar bill was a little unexpected surprise. Nothing outlandish. 

I checked out of my hotel but left my case with them – the hotel was so close to the train station anyway. Across the street was the stop for the tourist buses. There are more tour busses than cars in Nikko. Fortunately I was on my way early and boarded a half empty bus. Hot tip is to get the train ticket that is a return to and from Nikko and also includes unlimited use of the tourist bus. I got off at the Shinkyo Bridge – obviously a tourist hot spot. Fortunately I was there early in the day so there were not many people around which allowed for some great landscape photography of the bridge and river and surrounding mountains. . It is a beautiful red timber bridge that crossed the river and leads to the entrance of the world heritage site of shrines. You can pay to go on the bridge but the other side is barricaded so I didn’t see the point. There may be some cultural significance to crossing it but all I could see were tourists with selfie sticks. I crossed on the regular bridge about 20 meters away and took shots from various angles.

Once across I was faced with stairs and forest disappearing into a wooded hillscape. This is what I had come to see. Sore fee or not. I climbed up into a forested mountain area with tori gates and stone stairs. Obviously worn with age and natures encroaching relentlessness. After some time climbing and some heavy breathing I can to the first temple. It is enormous and a deep red with gold decorations. So grand and awe inspiring. Unfortunately most of the exterior of the lower building was covered in scaffolding as they were renovating the building. That was disappointing. Who walks uphill to see scaffolding? I spent the next hour wandering around the various stone pathways throughout the site. It was an overcast day making it even darker under the canopy of the giant trees. The downhill pathways I took were just gorgeous. Green canopy overhead, forest to each side and ancient stoneworks. Ah the peace and quiet was so welcome. 

I left the site and crossed back over the river towards the Nikko main road. I was going to catch a bus but decided to walk the rest of the way back to the centre of town. It was about a 2km walk and I stopped along the way once to duck into a new looking cafe that served croissants and hot/cold drinks. That was the bulk of the menu. Croissants. A shop that was that limited would not survive in Melbourne. But the owner looked chilled and happy. I had a iced Matcha Latte. I love this drink. Just as well I bought some extra Matcha from a shop here in Nikko. Despite the long walk I realised that it is not as hot up here in the mountains. And there is a cool breeze to disrupt the heat. My exercise has me contemplating lunch!

I stopped at a little eatery called the Kanaya Hotel Bakery Nikko. An old two story building with a slightly French look to it. It sold pastries and baked goods down stairs and had a little restaurant upstairs that would only sit about 20 hungry souls. They only had five items on the menu but that didn’t bother me as I was after only one. I saw it on the menu from the street! Golden beef curry on rice. A Japanese staple that is as predictably good wherever you get it. I even make it at home. It was so delicious.

I thought I was missing home this morning. I was feeling flat and a bit disconnected from my experiences. And I do miss home and the kids and my fur babies. But I think after some deeper reflection, I am feeling alone. Not sure what is driving that. It is more than missing Isobel. It is just loneliness in general. That and I am tired. Late nights and early mornings with lots of walking. Being on holiday on your own has a lot of benefits. You work to your own schedule and capabilities. But still…

All images were shot with the Fujifilm X70.