Sunday, September 05, 2010
Driving to Nikko
Nikko is one of the premier tourist destinations in Japan. It is an area of immense natural beauty and historical importance that has the good fortune to also be quite close to Tokyo. Nikko sits in the mountains to the north of Gunma, about two hours drive from my house. My old friend Zach and his girlfriend Miku came up to Gunma from Osaka during summer break, meeting up with me and our mutual friend Ryan. We planned a drive to Nikko, as Miku had never been!
While enroute we came across an old Imperial getaway that is now a museum. Originally built for the local lord, the small palace was obtained by the Imperial Family during the Meiji Restoration in the late 1800s, and was expanded and made more luxurious, as befits an Emperor.
Now of course, it is a museum that gives a look into the very private lives of the Japanese Imperial Family. There are displays on the history of the building, old Japanese building techniques, and of course rooms that show how the Imperial Family lived, from the shower room to the audience room to the billiards room.
This was a very nice surprise, everyone but Miku had been here before, some multiple times. It was just far enough away from the central tourist sites of Nikko that you wouldn't know about it without prior planning or a car. Just one of those happy accidents that happens when you are traveling.