Name：Gaik Theng, TOH Nationality：Malaysia Pass Type：World Heritage Pass >>
(Nikko-Kinugawa, Tochigi; 15th – 16th October 2007)
When we were considering a destination for our holiday, Nikko and Kinugawa came into our mind. To our luck, we came across the “Experience Nikko-Kinugawa Campaign” while preparing for our trip, and were fortunate enough to be chosen as the recipients of the prizes. After hearing so much about Nikko and Kinugawa, finally we’re going to explore these places ourselves!
It was a cloudy Monday morning when we departed from Asakusa on SPACIA train. As soon as we arrived in Nikko, we could feel the revitalizing fresh air around us. Moreover, the peaceful and excessively green surroundings impressed us very much about this piece of wonderland.
We had been wanted to speed up our steps to quickly get into and be part of the greenery of Nikko. Hence, we bought ourselves 2-day pass for Tobu Bus and first left our foot prints on the Senjogahara Plateau, a ground of untouched nature. Around this time of a year, deciduous trees start to shed their leaves, with the leaves that changing to a reddish or brownish hue before falling. What a perfect illustration of Autumn through Senjogahara, a place to witness the transition of seasons from summer to winter. We then continued our journey, moved along the route of Tobu bus and made several stops at attractions such as Lake Chuzenji, Futarasan Shrine Chugu-shi, and etc, before we headed to the Kinugawa Green Palace Hotel.
It took us about 10 minutes’ by foot from Kinugawa Koen station to the Kinugawa Green Palace Hotel. We were given a comfortable room on the 8th floor, which was equipped with Tatami floor and filled with a blend of Japanese-Western atmosphere. Besides the scenic view of Kinugawa River and beautiful mountains outside our window, the fresh air out there had also promised us an awakening inhale. Taking a hot spring bath before nap was definitely a great revitalization after a long traveling day. Moreover, generous assistance from the warm and service minded hotel staffs not only had reduced the unnecessary idling time tremendously, we felt so much at home throughout our stay too. Therefore, we shall recommend this hotel to whoever wishes to spend a wonderful night in Kinugawa.
On the next morning, we started our day by taking a relaxing walk, enjoying the grand scenery around Kinugawa Koen. We were amazed by the crystal clear streams of the beautiful Kinugawa River, flowing down hill, splashing the rocks and gravels, a youthful water interaction with natures. We then visited Tobu World Square, where the precious world’s famous buildings and monuments appeared to be within our steps. The artistic craftsmanship for this intricate miniature world has been a remarkable one. From architectural design to landscaping, construction, operation and much more, everything was so seamlessly built. The Tobu World Square has not only reminded us about how precious and wonderful the world heritages are, it has also made us developed consciousness for the need to preserve such historic structures.
Upon traveling around the little world, we decided to explore the UNESCO protected heritage sites – the 2 shrines (Tosho-gu Shrine and Futarasan Shrine) and 1 temple (Rinnoji Temple) in Nikko. Along the way, we were attracted and dragged down our steps by the polyphonic gurgling streams at Shinkyo, the Sacred Bridge. We got off from Tobu bus and took a slow walk from Shinkyo to the shrines and temple, which are nested in a beautiful sacred forest. This place is really a great example of a traditional Japanese religious centre, whereby the architectures are lavishly decorated with gold leaves, red lacquer work, with relief carvings, and further made up with great paintings. It’s definitely a place worth visiting!
Despite the rainy weather on both days, it was a memorable and rewarding trip, while restoring our souls and energies. Nikko, a famous repository of Japanese’s culture, is no doubt a perfect spot to learn and appreciate Japan from the ancient native perspective. As we only managed to visit several attractions in this trip, we’ll definitely be back again in future, to continue our unfinished expedition – explore the nature of Nikko.