I had noticed I was being a bit forgetful and unusual on this trip but this was definitely the give away that my brain wasn’t it’s usual organized, sharp and witty self (pfft joking!). So a few days prior we had reserved seats on the Shinkansen bullet train to do a day trip to Nikko and seeing as we would need 3 trains and a bus to get there we decided the 6.50am departure from Shinjuku station was probably the way to go. For some strange reason when setting my alarm my brain thought.. 6.50am departure, well we need a 6.50am wake up call of course. Wtf was I thinking, we needed 5.50am! Luckily for me I’m usually an organized freak so when 6.14am rolled around my body clock told my brain it feels like we’ve been sleeping too long and my memory told my muscles holy crap you set your alarm for 6.50 not 5.50! So without even opening my eyes I made a loud Ahhh noise, ran across the room to my phone and as soon as I seen 6.14 yelled Holy F**k we gotta go! I pull open the curtains, Amanda jumps up and we both scramble to get ready. 10 minutes and we are out the door and running down the street towards the station, she’s forgotten her glasses, I’ve forgotten my mask. We arrive at the station and can’t figure out which of the two trains on the platform we need, finally we figure out which one but realize we just missed the train we needed by mucking around with the wrong train. Thinking it won’t be that much of a big deal because of our 20 minute transfer gap at the next station, we jump on the next train headed for the same station 10-15 minutes later. Half way between stations we realize we have missed our reserved seat Shinkansen train. We think oh well maybe we will just catch a normal train to the next stop, how much longer can it be… 55 minutes longer, that’s how much! 75 minutes on a normal train and 20 minutes on the bullet train. Anyway this has been a long paragraph but to wrap it up for you our morning snowballed into a whole series of delays and confusion until we finally reached Nikko station 2 hours later than planned.. great.
Now at Nikko station at around 10.45am and still with a bus to catch we realized that we probably wouldn’t have time to do the hike we came to do. Determine not to ruin our day completely especially after just taking 4 hours to get here we decided to check out Lake Chuzenji which required a shorter 40 minute bus ride.
The bus ride up to Lake Chuzenji is beautiful especially in November. Not only are the mountains huge but the leaves are various shades of red, yellow, orange and green.. it’s magical. I will warn you though, the bus is packed with people and the road is like an infinity symbol so be prepared if you get car sick. Once at the top and off the bus the lake is stunning! It is surrounded by beautiful mountains, colourful trees and the water is crystal clear so you can see all stones on the bottom.
After we spent a little time at the lake we walked along the Main Street until we found a place packed with locals/Japanese people to do Udon for lunch. Yummy! Then across the road was Kegon Falls which is beautiful but doesn’t require much time so it was back on the bus down the mountain to Nikko Town.
Seeing as we still had some time to kill we got off the bus about 1.5km up the hill from the station next to Shinkyo bridge. The bridge is beautiful and totally worth a look. We walked along the little streets lines with the odd shop and restaurant until we reached the JR Station. Once at the station we decided it was probably better this time to be early rather than late so we jumped on the train and headed back to Utsunomiya Station where our bullet train was leaving from.
While waiting for our reserved bullet train we had a quick look around the mall attached to the station. Grabbed some bananas, the first we’ve seen in a bunch and not single in a packet then had some sushi for a snack. We headed up to our platform and jumped on the Shinkansen train we had reserved, these things are cool! They hoon it, 200-350km/h (so I’ve heard) depending on which one you get. Inside they are extra roomy with reclining chairs, fancy bathrooms and a food menu… nice!
After our Shinkansen experience we had one more train to reach Shinjuku then it was home to chill and bed. One of those bananas will have to suffice for dinner and I figured out how to change the tv from Japanese to English (finally on our second last night) so movies in bed, perfect.