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October 28, 2013
Day 25 - Nikko

Nikko (, Nikkō) is a city in Tochigi Prefecture that is famous for its several Unesco World Heritage Sites, in particular Toshogu - Japan's most lavishly decorated shrine and the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate.

Nikko is also home to the Nikko National Park, which offers scenic mountainous landscapes, lakes, waterfalls, marshlands, hot springs, hiking trails and wild monkeys.

Today's Report
 
Nikko

Senjogahara bog

It seems that as my journey goes by, the better the breakfasts become. Such a treat, after wholegrain bread in Ishinomaki, here at Turtle Inn in Nikko I had brown bread this morning, and black tea - unbelievable!
After that great breakfast I set off for the mountains near Nikko. It took me about an hour by car to reach Yumoto Onsen, a small hot spring village up at about 1500m. It was quite fresh - there was even a bit of frost and ice at some places.

Funky frost

From Yumoto Onsen I took the bus down to Ryuzu Falls where I started walking up the mountain, along waterfalls, a very scenic river and an even more beautiful bog.

The first waterfall I saw was Ryuzu. Itfs about 210 meters high which is quite impressive. Although itfs not really a waterfall, itfs more like a very vertical series of rapids.

Ryuzu falls

From there I started my ascent and after about 30 minutes I reached the entrance of the wildlife preservation zone - yet another place where I really should have gone with a bear bell. Oh well, my journey is almost over and I survived yet a hike in bear territory.

Entering the danger zone...

Sadly, no wildlife to be seen - I blame everyone else's bear bells!

I then proceeded to cross the Senjogahara marshes, a breathtakingly beautiful bog - especially now in the autumn when everything was bright yellow or golden.

After about one hour I reached Yutaki falls where I had a good lunch of udon and wild mushroom tempura. This is where I met these two sweet old ladies who were very impressed I was traveling through half of Japan all by myself - and driving my own car as well!
The waterfall itself was more impressive that Ryuzu in my opinion. It seemed a lot longer.

Yutaki falls

Today's lovely ladies

From there I hiked up to lake Yunoko. Itfs a really lovely lake although it smells quite strongly of sulfur in some places. At some of the places, where thermal water joins the lakefs waters, there are vapours coming up, which makes the lake quite eerie. I walked round the lake and back to Yumoto onsen, from where I drove back.

Lake Yunoko

Annoyingly, it took me two hours to get back so by the time I got back to Nikko and petted the enormous Lassie dog opposite the hotel the sun had already set. The owners of Turtle Inn told me about a place full of Jiso statues that I wanted to check out, but I guess Ifll do that tomorrow morning instead. Now itfs time for a good bath in the hotelfs onsen!

Fluffy!

Today's Program
 
Today's Walk: Across the Senjogahara Marshland

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Today's walk takes us to some of the most scenic spots in the Okunikko area. Although it is probably a little too late to see autumn colors in their full glory, pockets of nice colors should still be around.

Starting at the gorgeous Ryuzu Waterfall, a nice dedicated hiking trail through the forest by the stream brings us to the Senjogahara Marshland, from where lovely views of the idyllic marsh and the surrounding mountains can be seen. A walk with nature ensues across the marshland and into the woods north, before ending at Yumoto Onsen, a small hot spring town attractively located next to Lake Yunoko.

Date October 28, 2013
Start Time 9:45
Start Ryuzu Waterfall
Goal Yumoto Onsen
Distance 8 kilometers (about 4-5 hours)
Terrain The journey starts with a fairly steep climb up some stairs the height of Ryuzu Waterfall, before a gentle uphill path eases along the approach to the Senjogahara Marshland. The walk through the marshland is mostly on level boardwalks. The final section of the tour sees more climbing to Yumoto Onsen which is located at higher elevations, but the climb is not too trying if done at a leisurely pace.
Weather Average daytime high: 11 degrees Celsius (52 degrees Fahrenheit)
Average nighttime low: 3 degrees Celsius (37 degrees Fahrenheit)
Weather Forecast for Utsunomiya
Access

From Nikko Station, buses run to the Okunikko area, including to our start and end points in the Nikko National Park. It takes about an hour and costs 1350 yen to get from the station to Ryuzu Waterfall (, Ryuzu no Taki), and 80 minutes and 1650 yen from Yumoto Onsen () back to the station. Buses depart once or twice every hour in either direction. The 8:35 departure from JR Nikko Station (8:36 from Tobu Nikko Station) arrives at Ryuzu Waterfall at 9:35 in time for today's walk.
More details on how to get to Nikko

Lodgings Nikko offers a variety of hotels, ryokan, and pensions for accommodation.
Search hotels in Nikko through Agoda, Booking.com or Japanican

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Daily Quiz
The deadline for answering the quiz question for day 25 has passed.

Several dozen Toshogu Shrines dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu have been built across Japan. Where was the first Toshogu Shrine constructed?

29%   Nikko (Tochigi Prefecture)
0%   Kawagoe City (Saitama Prefecture)
3%   Ueno Park (Tokyo)
66%   Mount Kunozan (Shizuoka Prefecture)
3%   None of the above

The correct answer is: Mount Kunozan (Shizuoka Prefecture)

The first Toshogu Shrine was built on Mount Kunozan in Ieyasu's home city of Shizuoka.

Current Standings: (after 30 days)

28 Points: Csabba, AlexanderStankov
27 Points: gladhiola, almoehi, ZoomX2, mikaelus
26 Points: Rabbityama, Proxy707

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