Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nikko in Fall

This fall has been truly beautiful. While the past summer was baking hot, and in fact set a few records, October and November have been filled with clear and sunny days. Not too hot, not too cold.

Nearby Nikko, home of Toshogu Shrine that I visited in August, is famous across Japan as an autumn destination. The brilliant fall colors in the area draw people from all over the Kanto region.

This can certainly make for clogged roads and busy attractions, but luckily for us, most people access Nikko from the Tokyo side. The drive from my place to Nikko was easy and pleasant, with gorgeous views at every turn. I drove up with a trio of flatlanders, who really enjoyed the trip.

We met up with a few more friends from around the area in Nikko, though it took longer than expected due to brutal traffic through town. The shrines were as gorgeous as always, and the small garden near the entrance to Toshogu was a delight.

That is one thing I really love about Japanese cultural sites. No matter how many times you have been, and this marks my third trip to Nikko, there always seems to be something new to discover.

We then headed up into the hills, back to the Kegon falls. It was nice to arrive a little earlier this time, and get the chance to take the elevator down to the lower viewing platform. 

The geology nut in me loved that vantage point. We could see the bottom of a layer of columnar basalt, the same type of rock that formed the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland. The meeting point between the basalt lava flows and the underlying rocks was very obvious, even in the fading light.

After a well deserved sit down and some dinner, we all went our separate ways, with the knowledge that the weekend had been properly seized.

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