DAY 19 Kegon Falls, Chuzenji and Back to Tokyo
DAY 19 Kegon Falls, Chuzenji and Back to Tokyo
November 1st, 2019
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Irohazaka winding roads
Another stellar vegan breakfast prepared for us at Akari no Yado Nikko Villa Revage was a great start to the day:
From our hotel we caught the bus from stop 13 on the main road, heading towards Yumoto Onsen, though we were only going as far as Kegon falls and Chuzenji. This was a coach style bus and all the seats were taken. Dee and I stood in the aisle for a few minutes before someone showed us that the side of the aisle seats contain fold out seats, so we got to sit down after all. Brilliant!
Now, here’s the information I never saw despite months of researching Nikko and watching loads of YouTube videos: the only way to reach Kegon falls, Chuzenji and locations onward is via the winding hairpin road known as Irohazaka!
If, like me, you get motion sickness easily, you may not appreciate this prospect. I packed travel sickness tablets just in case but forgot all about them. But the ride itself wasn’t so bad, on the way there (the way back had the tighter hairpin turns). Mercifully I didn’t feel sick or dizzy like I do on something like the Great Ocean Road here in Victoria.
The beautiful Chuzenji lake made up for it. Absolutely stunning and hardly anyone there! Given the non stop army of tour bus coaches you see in Nikko, I had assumed the lake would be crowded but we were two of a handful of people walking around.
Some parts of shoreline were run-down and overgrown, which was a bit of a shame for such a stunning area.
We looked at the next departure time for the Chuzenji boat ride but it was half an hour away and neither of us felt like hanging around that long, so we walked back towards the bus station to go to Kegon falls. These falls are known for being shrouded in mist and not visible, but there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and so we had fantastic views.
You can see Kegon falls from the main viewing area, where there is car parking and some food stalls. This is for the top of the falls. You can pay to take an elevator to the base of the falls, where you walk through a tunnel before coming out to some viewing areas (and souvenir shops). Every now and then we’d feel the spray from the water which was nice on a warm sunny day:
Back at the top of the falls, I bought two steamed buns from a street food vendor, one with greens and one with anko. These buns were another bucket list item but the bun with the greens had a tiny bit of filling and not much flavour, though the anko bun was slightly better. The bread bit was quite thick and chewy:
After browsing the souvenirs, we made our way back to the bus stop for the bus back in the Nikko station direction, so we could collect our bags from the hotel and head back to Tokyo.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the path and statues around Narabi Jizō by the Kanmangafuchi abyss despite it being a fifteen minute walk from the hotel. I wish we’d seen it but oh well, it just means a future trip to Nikko again. We also didn’t check out nearby onsens as that wasn’t something we’re interested in (Dee and I both don’t like hot baths as we feel sick). A river boat ride at the Kinugawa Line Down would have been fun but we didn’t have time. As for the popular Akechidaira ropeway, neither of us felt like being crammed in to a little can and it looked really busy too and reviews seemed to be more negative than positive.
Soon it was time to leave. From JR Nikko station we had to first go to Utsunomiya station by a regular JR train, then transfer to a shinkansen for Tokyo station. From the JR Nikko station office I reserved the shinkansen seats, though we didn’t get seats together (we were separated by the aisle which was fine), as the shinkansen was apparently fully reserved. I didn’t want to risk not getting a seat in the unreserved carriages. JR Nikko station sure could do with more coin lockers!
After a 1h15m wait on the platform we caught the train to Utsunomiya. We got to see a few shinkansen zoom through the station, which is an amazing sight if you’ve never seen a bullet train zoom by! Then we boarded the shinkansen and got to sit together anyway as the people who reserved the seats in our row didn’t show up.
And so it was goodbye to beautiful Nikko. I would have liked three nights there instead of two, in hindsight.
At Tokyo station I took the wrong exit thinking we’d end up on the east side but of course we ended up west side somewhere and Google Maps was being rubbish again, arghghh. Frustrating when you’re tired and have heavy bags! After all that time in Tohoku, being surrounded by mountains, lakes and such, it felt a bit strange to be back in Tokyo.
But we got there in the end, jumped straight in to the shower, did all the handwashing (my bad as I thought the hotel had a coin laundry but they had the expensive ‘laundry service’ which is different), got convenience store food for dinner, then bed.