Tokyo June 2006

Tochigi - Tokyo June 2006


Saturday 10th June 2006

A very nice day out with our old friend Hide in Tochigi prefecture taking in the Nikko Toshogu shrine and a number of other very scenic spots. Followed by a bit of a Gyosei reunion in Shinjuku in the evening.

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11:35:36 This is at Hide's parent's house in Utsonomiya, and here's Hide with one of the two family pets.

11:39:51 The three of us plus the other dog. Hide's Mum is obviously a very keen gardener. It really doesn't feel like we're in Japan in this picture does it?

11:40:58 The garden was really flourishing, so I wanted to get picture with lots of the flowers in.

11:41:51 The three of us again under the archway thing.

12:26:41 On the road now, on the way to the first venue of the day, and I was intrigued by "Hotel Feel". Hmmm...

13:08:02 So here we are at the first venue of the day, in the grounds of the Nikko Toshogu shrine. Very nice trees (Japanese Cedar?) here.

13:08:18 The approach to this was this rather grand tree lined avenue, which I thought merited a picture all by itself.

13:09:17 For some reason there was lots of moss everywhere. Hide said this picture reminded him of the film Princes Mononoke. I guess there is a hint of Miyazaki about it.

13:11:22 From atop the steps, looking back down the approach to the shrine.

13:13:56 Perhaps the most famous thing about this shrine is this wooden carving on one of the outlying buildings - those three wise monkeys - hear no evil, speak no evil, and see no evil. I wasn't totally clear about it, but I think this image which is globally recognised may actually originate from this very building.

13:14:19 Two not-so-wise monkeys.

13:15:19 A zoomed-out shot so you can see what the actual building with the wise monkey carvings on was like.

13:15:39 A shot taking in several buildings of the shrine complex.

13:15:56 Oh and there's the wise monkey building again.

13:16:38 One of the really nice things about the shrine complex was how colourful and ornate many of the buildings were - often temples and shrines in Japan are a lot more plain looking than this.

13:18:15 I think this is the main gatehouse leading into the inner shrine complex. Again, very ornate decoration here.

13:19:08 A view along one of the walls, with more ornate carvings.

13:19:38 A close-up on a couple of carvings. I feel compelled to use the word "awnings" here.

13:19:45 I rather liked this building - the decor is bordering on over-the-top, which I think is great. It almost looks like a jewellry box or something.

13:20:01 Same again, but without shopping off the corners of the roof!

13:22:07 Ahhhh sake barrels... seemingly a vital component of any shrine.

13:22:41 Apparently this sleeping cat was another carving for which this shrine is famous, although the actual significance of it was not abundantly apparent.

13:23:06 This set of steps leads outside the temple complex up to one of the shrine's most important relics. It was a very nice path in itself, surrounded by Japanese cedar. That and the stone made it very cool and airy.

13:23:23 Me and Chie on the steps. Apparently all the steps are made from individual stones - must have been very heavy!

13:23:53 Further along the path.

13:26:32 Me and Hide looking a bit knackered after all the steps!

13:29:55 This here is the resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, a famous figure in Japanese history.

13:30:09 Me and Chie in front of the Tokugawa monument.

13:31:26 This "lucky tree" nearby the Tokugawa monument had some coins shoved into its bark - I wonder if you can see them on this picture.

13:36:29 As we came back from the Tokugawa monument, there was a nice view of the rooftops of the main shrine complex... unfortunately a bit difficult to make out in this picture!

13:38:10 Those sake barrels again. Marvellous.

13:38:19 Believe it or not, there was a wedding going on inside this building, hopefully quite oblivious to the crowds of tourists walking past and shouting "HEY BRIAN, THERE'S A WEDDING GOING ON IN THERE!", etc.

13:53:00 As an unusual compliment to the sake barrels, this shrine also boasted a nice array of Japanese whisky barrels. From left to right we have Karuizawa, Nikka (Yoichi?), and two Suntory/Yamazaki barrels.

13:53:12 Also over to the right hand side, a Fuji Gotemba (Kirin) and in the background a Mercian barrel.

13:53:24 I seemed to want to make sure I had got these last couple in.

13:53:31 Same again from a slightly different angle.

13:54:22 Hide and Chie with another one of the shrine buildings behind them.

13:54:37 Same scene, different people. Hide is really rather good at this kind of picture, don't you think?

14:08:25 On the way out now, another look back at the shrine complex.

14:09:26 I rather liked these moss covered lanterns!

14:12:22 Oh and of course there has to be a pagoda!

14:41:07 Our next venue for the day was a road, funnily enough. This was not any ordinary road though - it had a dizzying 48 bends as it winds up the side of a mountain and back down again. There was a stopping off point en route with some rather nice views...

14:41:23 Hide and Chie with the many layers of mountains behind them.

14:41:40 Me and Chie quite literally sitting on the fence (!).

14:42:01 Very lush and green up in the mountains here - only one pylon in sight which on thos occasion I may excuse!

14:42:42 It's easy to forget from this picture that I was standing on a busy road when I took it...

14:48:14 A little further along the road was a car park with a few amenities and a cable car station.

14:50:23 Again, nice views to be had here.

14:50:31 An empty cable car emmerges from the station. I wonder if they're just not able to stop these?

14:52:06 Chie and Hide eating dango - Chie seemed to enjoy this a great deal! I never cease to find it utterly endearing, just how excited she gets about this kind of snack.

14:57:17 Further along our journey we had to pass through a tunnel, and I rather liked the way the dashboard and car navigation system lit up in Hide's car...

14:57:40 ....unfortunately the picture really didn't come out that well!

15:17:38 The next venue - and possibly the most spectacular of all - the Kegon waterfalls.

15:18:02 A nice picture of me and Chie in front of the falls.

15:18:15 I think Hide has more of a knack for this sort of picture than I do! I've got alsorts of unpleasant distractions justting into this picture...

15:18:21 Hmmmm yes definitely Hide's was better. I guess I could salvage this with a bit of cropping...

15:19:20 ....another very nice picture - Hide is just showing off now!

15:19:38 It was quite fantastic, and I couldn't stop taking pictures...

15:19:43 ...following the river down into the valley a bit here...

15:19:52 ...and further on still.

15:20:20 Hmmm not sure why this says Nehan waterfall - I thought it was called Kegon? Hmmm...

15:20:57 Anyway, whatever it was called, here's another picture of it. I've never visited any of the worlds famous waterfalls (Niagra, Victoria, etc), so this was probably about the biggest I've ever seen. The spray was quite impressive - even though the observation platform was a fair way back, we were getting quite damp.

15:22:30 I liked the many little accompanying falls either side of the main one.

15:22:35 Yes, it was hard to stop taking pictures!

15:27:43 For some reason I wanted to get the observation platform in shot too. Not sure why!

15:27:47 One last picture from the observation platform before going back up to the top.

15:35:24 The observation platform was down in the valley, but you can also get a slightly less impressive view of the falls from up top.

15:35:35 There you go.

15:46:46 Well, no time to hang around - on to the next venue, a very serene and peaceful mountain lake called Chuzenjiko.

15:46:58 Chie and Hide looking out over the lake.

15:47:21 Me and Chie, with the volcano behind which I believe played a hand in forming this lake.

15:47:45 The lake again. Very nice too.

15:48:30 Me and Hide contemplating going for a swim...?

15:49:44 More lake pictures - you might just about be able to see a couple of little boats bobbing about in the distance.

15:50:21 ...and more of the same. This scene slightly reminded me of Scotland, actually.

15:50:33 One of the mountains in the distance had some snow on its peak.

16:05:04 The final venue of the day, the Ryuzu falls. Not quite on the same scale as Kegon, but very pleasant nonetheless.

16:05:16 Chie and Hide and Ryuzu. I think the name comes from something like "dragon's head" - apparently the right hand branch of the river looks like a dragon...?

16:05:35 Ahhhh.... nature!

16:05:45 Lovely. I remember saying how much nicer our apartment would be if this was the view from our balcony. I think I could find Tokyo a bearable place to live then...!

16:12:38 A bit of a dark picture here, but I wanted to capture the very pleasant atmosphere of the sort of tearoom next to the falls.

16:13:22 A jolly nice spot for a cup of tea!

18:29:18 Well, all good things come to an end, and it was time for us to leave Tochigi, so here we are at Utsunomiya station. We decided to treat ourselves to a ride on the Shinkansen for the trip back to Tokyo.

18:37:53 This was my first time on this Shinkansen line (Tohoku?), always before I've been on the Sanyo like - the one that goes from Tokyo to Osaka and Hiroshima.

21:40:46 Later on that night, a notable change of scenery, and we were in Shinjuku for a few drinks with some of Chie's old university friends.

21:55:32 Chie, Yumippe and Haruka-kun.

21:56:01 The same again, without the flash.

21:56:23 The fact that I was taking a picture of my beer does not bode well for the quality of photography from here on.

22:37:03 Later on Kanako joined us too.

22:39:31 The other side of the table - mostly people I didn't know so well.

22:39:37 Same again. I think they wanted this picture to be "Heavy Metal".

22:40:17 They insisted I use the flash, well, it is quite special I suppose.

22:41:47 Our side of the table, including Yusuke-san on the left hand side there.