Sunday, October 28, 2012

Autumn trip: Nikko National Park

Two years ago we visited the beautiful temples and historical heritage of Nikko. This time we wanted to visit Nikko again, but focus on the natural beauty of the area. Therefore, we decided to make it a weekend holiday in autumn, and enjoy the autumn foliage of Okunikko (the national park of Nikko).

Senjogahara Marsland
 We had to leave really early on Saturday morning to catch the 7:00 train from Asakusa station, to Nikko. After the approximately 2,5 hour train-ride, we arrived at Nikko station and had to change to the bus for the last 1,5 hour of our journey. Then we finally arrived at the far end of Okunikko, at Lake Yunoko. From there we travelled back through the national park by foot, enjoying the beautiful scenery all around us.

In front of the Ryuzu Waterfall
Lake Yunoko

Lake Yunoko

Yudaki Waterfall

Wooden path through the Senjogahara marshland

Ryuzu Waterfall

Autumn colours at Okunikko

Ryuzu Waterfall
The park is famous for its seasonal colours, and we visited at the beginning of autumn season so all plants and trees were starting to change into splendid red, bright orange and yellow colours. Furthermore the park is famous for the many, very big and wild waterfalls. The park has excellent opportunities for walks and hikes through the nature; climbing mountains and walking through marshland. The landscape has a big variety, so there is a lot to see in each area.

Kegon Waterfall

End of Ryuzu Waterfall
At the end of the first day walking we took the bus back to the station, and took the train to our hotel at Kinugawa Onsen. We were very lucky because we were able to book a very nice room only the Wednesday before our visit, given that was peak-season (autum-colours are very popular and attract many (Japanese) tourists). We enjoyed a nice evening in the onsen, so the next day we would be all refreshed and recharged for another day of hiking.

Our day started with a ropeway-trip, from where we climbed our way to even higher mountains, before descending back down to the lake. On our way we actually saw a wild monkey! Although we were very surprised and joyful to see the monkey, it had absolutely no interest in us. So while we were trying to take a picture, it just wandered (quickly) off into the woods, leaving us with only blurry pictures..

View on Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Waterfall from the ropeway-station
(blurry) monkey picture
Okunikko makes for a perfect weekend-trip from Tokyo, so many diverse things to see and enjoy. A nice outdoor break from the Tokyo's concrete jungle.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Akihabara is the place in Tokyo that is perfect for a "nerd-day-out": it's a shopping district catering to those interested in electronics, anime/manga and/or games.
Typical shopping street in Akihabara
Game centers, manga shops, and electrionic vendors
The many (sometimes obscure) shops sell everything a electronics fanatic would want to buy; from new to second-hand products, and from the newest technological gadgets to very old-fashioned, archaic equipment. You can go shopping in one of the many big electronic department stores, or in one of the small one-man stalls specialised in one product. Don't we surprised to find a shops selling only specific kind of cables, or special kinds of lamps.

The other parts of Akihabara have emerged only recently over the last decades and cater to the so-called 'Otaku'. A term referring those people with obsessive interests, particularly anime, manga or Japanese video games. To cater those groups many shops have specialised in selling all kinds of anime, manga and (retro-)video games. But the die-hard fan is of course also looking for (ridiculously expensive) figurines, collectibles, card games, and other merchandise. 

Games, games, and games
In addition to shopping, the die-hard animation fan can also find entertainment in Akihabara, in the form of maid cafes. Cafes where waitresses dress up and act like maids or anime characters, and were you can order drinks and food for exorbitant prices. 
Waitress promoting maid cafe

For us, it is fun to experience to see the great number of shops selling these great variety of products. But, most of all, it is a good place to look for a cheap deal if you are in need of a second hand phone, television, game, etc.