Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Dec 30 - 日光到着!

It was a 2 hour train ride from Asakusa station in Tokyo to Nikko. I only knew of Nikko after I started learning Japanese. In one of the textbooks, there's a dialog between 2 men and one of them was talking about his vacation in Nikko, that Toshogu (東照宮) was wonderful (wonderful was the vocabulary of the chapter). So, here I came, and I'll make up my my own dialog when I return to the Bay Area.

Nikko is super famous for its Koyo (紅葉), or fall color. Of course, the color is long gone this time of the year. However, I feel like if I had come here in autumn, my photos would likely have been cliche. Same spot, same water fall, taken by millions of travelers and photographers before and after me. I am hoping that I'll be able to capture another side of Nikko - a different season, different feelings.

From what I learned on the Internet, by now, Nikko should already be covered by snow. I was quite disappointed that I didn't see any snow when I arrived at the train station. The weather was nice, and not much colder than Tokyo. I'll be here for 6 days, staying in 2 different hotels in 2 different areas.

It's 12:30pm, so it's lunch time! I browsed the menus of a couple of restaurants near the train station and it appeared that Nikko is famous for its yuba (湯葉), or sheet tofu. I just picked one randomly and ordered their yuba rice bowl.

Here it is, sheet tofu mixed with eggs on top of rice.

Nikko is a huge area. The train gets you downtown. However, my hotel is in the Yumoto area (湯元), which is an hour from the train station by bus. As the bus climbed uphill, I started to notice more and more snow on the ground. I was not disappointed after all! In fact, it started to snow as I'm approaching the destination. This is taken from within the bus as it's passing Senjogahara (戦場ヶ原).

For the first 3 nights, I'll be staying at Hillside Inn (ヒルサイドイン) near the bus terminal.

They have hot spring, both indoor and outdoor. Since it's already 4pm when I arrived, and the sun would set soon, I just enjoyed the hot spring before dinner. And here's how my room looked like.

Breakfast and dinner are included. Here's the dinner menu for Dec 30.

I'll try my best to translate:
1. Plum wine from Tochigi prefecture
2. Salmon in marinade
3. Soup made from plateau cabbage (plateau refers to Nikko's location, so this just means the cabbage is locally grown)
4. Warm salad in a pot
5. King salmon in citron and pepper sauce
6. Duck breast steak
7. Homemade cheese cake
8. Coffee or black tea

And here's the full picture of the feast.

And here's the desert.

There is no internet at Hillside Inn. I'm not optimistic that the 2nd hotel will have it either. If so, I'll upload once I return to Tokyo on Jan 5.

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