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August 22nd 2023
Published: October 22nd 2023
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View from the top of  Akechidaira RopewayView from the top of  Akechidaira RopewayView from the top of Akechidaira Ropeway

Lake Chuzenji, Kegon Falls and Ryuzu Falls
Things have changed a little since our last travelblog. Not only was there a pandemic, but we're now travelling as a trio.

Scott, Elodie and I departed Melbourne at 10:30ish on a Friday morning. We were a little apprehensive about how a 10hr flight with a very busy nearly two year old would go, but we were pleasantly surprised. Elodie snacked, coloured, ran up and down the aisles, watched a little Ms Rachel, charmed the staff and had a nap - she was way better behaved that we expected.

Upon arrival in Japan we made it through immigration and collected our bags from the slowest baggage carousel ever. I had booked us a room at the airport hotel for the night so that we didn't have to travel far given we arrived after Elodie's bed time.

Elodie ran through the airport all the way to the hotel. Literally ran. After checking in (to the room without a cot waiting...) we calmed her down and eventually all went to sleep at about 10pm.

The next morning our alarm clock without a snooze button woke up at 6:30am full of beans. After milk (for her) we had a shower, headed down to the convenience store to pick up breakfast and then returned to our room. Elodie enjoyed her sushi breakfast and we were both happy to be back in the land of convenience stores!

After breakfast we packed up our things and headed to the train station to catch the train to Nikko. This involved a few trains to get us to Asakusa station and then a change of station (and our first exposure to the humid Tokyo summer heat!), purchase of a Nikko pass, visit to a convenience store to pick up lunch and another very comfortable train to Nikko. Elodie slept on Scott while we enjoyed the scenery (although Scott wasn't particularly comfortable...).

Nikko is a small city to the north east of Tokyo. It's a popular weekend destination due to the surrounding national park and shrines.

On arrival in Nikko we headed out of the station into torrential rain. We found the bus stop and waited for the bus to turn up. Luckily the timetable didn't seem to be too accurate as we only had to wait about 20 minutes before a bus that would take us to our AirBNB turned up.

Our AirBNB was a little out of town, but had a bit more space for the three of us. After we dropped off our luggage and had a look around we headed out for a walk. Elodie insisted on pushing the pram for much of it which made it quite a slow trip, but given the heat we didn't mind. We had a look around the outskirts of the main part of Nikko town and then stopped for a snack (icy shaved strawberries topped with whipped cream and condensed milk).

After our snack we stopped into the convenience store to pick up dinner and breakfast for the following morning and then caught the bus back to our AirBNB.

The following morning our alarm went off horribly early at 4:30am. We had a slow start before venturing out for a walk along the river. Scott and Elodie saw a couple of deer just after we crossed over the bridge to the north side of the river. We then walked back along the river on a tree lined path while Elodie had a nap in her pram.

The walk back to town probably took about 50 minutes. When we arrived in town we headed to a supermarket to pick up some nappies (turns out that's the wrong place to look for nappies in Japan, pharmacies stock them instead). We bought some snacks and some (very expensive) grapes. We then walked through the town in search of a playground.

Scott and Elodie cooled down playing with water from the drinking fountain and climbing on the (very sunny and far too hot) playground while we killed time until the restaurant we'd picked for lunch opened.

Lunch was delicious; we both ordered different yuba set menus. Yuba is a local Nikko special which is essentially tofu skin. The set menus started with 'yuba sashimi' and a spinach, mushroom and yuba dish which was really yummy. Next was a clear very gingery broth with yuba and some carrot. Then I had miso grilled chicken and Scott had trout. Finally we had yuba and tofu soup. The set menu also came with rice. The food was really good quality and the flavours were delicious.

After lunch we caught the bus back to our AirBNB so that Elodie (and Scott and I) could have a nap.

After our naps we played in the backyard for a while before venturing out in search of dinner. Turns out Nikko is not a particularly happening place at night. We chose a yakisoba restaurant which turned out to be pretty good.

The following morning our alarm went off a little later fortunately. We got ready and then headed to the bus stop to catch the bus to Akechidaira Ropeway. Once we left Nikko the drive was really lovely; through the mountains and up a very windy road until we reached the bus stop for the ropeway.

Once the ropeway opened we caught the cable car up to the view point. After walking up some stairs we reached the viewing deck which had a wonderful view over Lake Chuzenji, Kegon Falls and Ryuzu Falls. The view was definitely worth stopping for. It would have been even more lovely in autumn.

We caught the cable car back down and then headed to the bus stop. We then caught the bus to Lake Chuzenji.

The lake itself was quite pretty, although they have a whole lot of swan paddle boats and run down jetties which give it a bit of a tacky feel. Elodie paddled in the water (and tried to remove her clothes so she could go swimming) for a while before we headed back to the bus stop to head back to Nikko.

We grabbed some food from the convenience store for lunch before heading back to our AirBNB so Elodie could have a nap. After Elodie's nap we played in the backyard for a while again before venturing back into Nikko in search of dinner. Sunday night was even quieter so we struggled to find a place that was open.

The place we chose wasn't amazing, the food was OK but definitely not a particularly memorable meal.

For our final day in Nikko we stayed in the town. We stopped to pick up breakfast (including a fruit salad, cream and custard sandwich) at Lawsons before heading on to Toshugu Shrine which is a memorial to the the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, which ruled Japan for over 250 years until 1868.

The Shrine is surrounded by the forest. We actually decided not to purchase tickets to go inside and instead strolled around the grounds outside and enjoyed the shady trees. The forest was pretty and Elodie enjoyed 'cuddling' a green bug she found on a sign...and then proceeded to "feed" rocks to it (by throwing them at the bug...).

After walking around for a while we headed towards the centre of town in search of lunch. We ordered another yuba set each. This set wasn't as good as the one from the first day, but was still interesting to try all the different yuba options.

After lunch we hopped on a bus to head back to our AirBNB...but quickly realised we'd hopped on the wrong one so got off, backtracked and then headed to another bus stop. Once we got back home Elodie had a nap while we relaxed.

That evening we headed back into town for dinner. We were hoping to go back to the delicious restaurant from the first day but it was fully booked. Instead we ended up at an izakaya which was delicious. Scott ordered a plate of mixed meats, while I stuck to yakitori, soba noodles and a few vegetable sides. It was all really delicious. We had a good time in Nikko, but planning our days around Elodie's naps and using the (infrequent) buses to get around made it a bit challenging.

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