Dear Family and Friends,
Matt wanted to take the bullet train somewhere just for the experience, but since it was Golden Week and the Japanese were on vacation, all the bullet trains were already booked.
We decided to take the regular train to Nikko. Nikko is a small tourist town, located about a two hour train ride, in the wooded hills north of Tokyo. It is an excellent place to go on a day trip from the big city.
The train we took was very crowded with tourists, all Japanese. When we got to Nikko we asked at the information desk in the train station how to get to the famous Toshugu shrine nearby. He said normally you would take the tourist bus, but there is so much car traffic, you would probably do better to walk.
It was about a 30 minute uphill walk on the main road out of town. Since I am gravity enhanced it took us a longer. Sure enough, just as we walked out of the little town there were cars bumper to bumper with the tourist bus just sitting in the line. We finally arrived at the entrance of the Toshugu Shrine.
This is the Shinkyo bridge, it stands at the entrance to the shrine. This bridge was constructed in 1636.
The walk ways inside the shrine were well paved, but again, all uphill. The towering cedars were beautiful to see along the walk.
There are Toshugu shrines all over Japan, but this one outside of Nikko is the most famous.
At the shrine is the 300 year old carving of the "three wise monkeys" in their "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" pose. I learned this ancient carving is where the famous monkeys covering their eyes, ears and mouth originated.
Going downhill back to the Nikko train station was breeze since it was all downhill.
The next day we we went on a boat cruse of the Sumida river in Tokyo. Here are three other monkeys waiting to board the boat.
The tour boat had a glass top and big glass windows along the side. We found ourselves in a sea of Japanese tourists. Chuck rented us an audio guide so we could get the narration in English.
Seeing Tokyo's river front was very enjoyable. We had just missed the cherry blossoms by just a couple of weeks but the flowers were beautiful along the river walk.
After the river tour, we had a fun lunch at a traditional Japanese sushi house.
We went home and packed our bags because the next day we were boarding our cruise ship for our two week journey across the Bering sea to Vancouver, Canada.