Go to the Nature☺️
After almost a week in Tokyo, I was ready to get out of the city and into the countryside.
I took trains and buses, including two Shinkansens (bullet trains), to Nikko.
They’re super comfy – lots of leg room, seats that recline, and some of them have power outlets. I have the Japan Rail Pass, so my trip from Tokyo to Nikko was totally ‘free’. Without the JR, it would’ve cost around $50 one-way.
My hostel in Nikko was a tiny building with traditional Japanese design, called Nikko Guesthouse Sumica.
The owners were super friendly and invited me to a dinner the evening I got there for their friend, Tomoko, to celebrate her marriage. They have a friend who is a Chef, and he cooked the meal – it was delicious! They were all really sweet and funny; I was so grateful for their hospitality.
Here are some pictures of Nikko and the area…
For the most part, I was a few weeks late to see the leaves changing colors, but there were still some bursts of red here and there😊
On the second day in Nikko, I went to Kegon Falls and Lake Chuzenji in Nikko National Park. It was freezing and windy, but it was totally worth the trip. I ‘hiked’ around the lake (not really hiking b/c it was all sidewalk), and I saw the womens marathon.
After two days in Nikko, I came to Kusatsu – that’s where I am now. Kusatsu has one of the three best hot springs in Japan, and it is really amazing. My hotel has six different baths – two are open air, and one is “with bubbles”. The town is hilly, with mountains in the background, and the hot spring water is running everywhere. There is a park up the hill, called Sainokawara Park, that has a lot of pools, one of which you can actually bathe in.
The town itself is the most unique town square I’ve ever seen. It has the ‘Yubatake’ at the center, which is the main source of hot spring water for Kusatsu (but it originates on the top of Kusatsu-Shirane mountain, which is an active volcano😁). The water comes out of the ground at 170*, and the wooden vessels carry it up to get cooled by the air before it is distributed to the onsens nearby. The water is super acidic (pH is around 2), which is why it’s good for skin conditions, arthritis, and other ailments. The wooden vessels are made of pinewood because apparently that is the best material to stand up against the great amount of acid in the water and not get destroyed within a few days!
I’ve been taking baths three times a day😍
I ventured up to see the Shirane Shrine, which is overlooking the town…
Cool view from my room…
Next Up: Hakone