Golden Week (part I)

This is a long one but wanted to catch everyone up – there’s a lot going on here and I’ve been bad at updates!

There was an EARTHQUAKE this morning! Around 5:15 am, I was already awake and laying in bed, and things just started shaking. At first I thought it was just a big truck going by but then things continued shaking for about 30 seconds. It was all so strange and freaky. I was already feeling disoriented since I wasn’t wearing my glasses yet, so throw in some shaking and creaking and it really throws you off. It turns out it was about a 6.2 magnitude quake with the epicenter off the coast of Tokyo. It measured about a 4 on the Japanese seismic scale. In other words, it was strong but nothing detrimental and there was no tsunami warning and no damage. Everyone just went on with their day as if nothing happened. I guess that’s what it’s like to live in a country on a whole bunch of tectonic plates.


This week is Golden Week and that means I have both today and Tuesday off. With the extended weekend, I decided to take a few day trips and to spend more time exploring Tokyo. I’ve been logging about 7-10+ miles a day walking (according to my Fitbit) and my feet will be ready for the work week to start back up again. #firstworldproblems

Saturday I spent the day (and I mean a very full day from 7:30 am to 8:00 pm) traveling to and around Nikko. It was my first time out of Tokyo and into the country side and man, it is beautiful! The sun was shining and it was just a gorgeous day to be out.

A few things from my Nikko experience.

1)   The first time the language barrier was REAL obvious. I had to switch trains to get to Nikko but wasn’t really informed of that until we were stopped for a few minutes longer than normal and everyone got off. A very kind woman said (or I think she was trying to indicate, it was in Japanese) that both trains went to the Nikko station but it just didn’t feel right. She even got off the train with me to ask someone where to go and described it all to me, but again… it was all in Japanese. I ended up figuring it all out by looking at the handy train map but phew! it was a little more stress than I like.

Nature Path along the Lake, did I mention what a beautiful day it was?


2)   As I walked to the Kegon Waterfall, I passed some Japanese girls singing TLC’s Waterfalls. That kind of quality music breaks all the culture barriers. It was a little piece of home and put a smile on my face.

View of Kegon falls and Lake Chuzenji, it reminded me a little of Cinque Terre, from a distance.

_DSC0604Kegon Falls from the bottom, about 100 meters down in an elevator to this viewing platform.


3)   You drive up to the lake and down from the lake on two different roads. On the way down, the bus system announces (in English) to hold onto your things as there will be tight turns as we descend and the “bus may sway greatly.” The path down looked like a racecourse with the tight turns, it was crazy doing it in a huge tour bus but the driver maneuvered it beautifully. Bonus: on the way down, a MONKEY crossed the road in front of us!

At the bottom, in the town of Nikko, the Shinkyo Bridge that leads into the Tosho-gu Shrine.


4) At the end of all this, I will be a master of the “selfie”. Thank goodness that iPhone camera flips right around. How else would I know I was there if not for a picture of myself in that place? Memories, schmemories. The real trick is finding the right angle so that my most prominent facial feature (i.e.: my nose) looks juuuuust right. Mind you, a nice ray of sunshine on it generally thrwarts my attempts (exhibit A below).


IMG_18675) In my opinion, Ryuzu Falls (Dragon’s Head Falls) was just as beautiful as the Kegon waterfall. There were three-ish sections, the photo below being the middle. Can you imagine this with the vibrant fall foliage??? Just a few months too early, darn it!


I’m going to Kamakura tomorrow. Initially I had planned to go today but with a 60% chance of rain today and only a 20% chance tomorrow, I decided to wait. So instead I spent the day shopping and went to the last of the major Tokyo temples/shrines that I hadn’t seen yet. I’m going to try to put that all together to post tomorrow night maybe. It won’t be nearly as long, I promise.