This is a detailed post of my 2 weeks long solo backpacking trip to Japan. Please see a preview and itinerary/index of my complete trip on this post.
Day 11 – Nikko
Nikko has low population density and is a popular tourist spot among locals and foreigners. Tourists based in Tokyo include Nikko as a side trip. I had only one night to spare in my plan. So that essentially gives me only one day to explore. After spending some time in Toshogu, I headed to a gorge formed as a result of a volcanic eruption of nearby mount Nantai.
Kanmangafuchi area is located about 30 minutes walk from Toshogu. My Nikko pass was valid on local buses so I boarded it and dropped at the nearest bus stop. However, the actual site is still 15 minutes walk from bus stop. The route starts along residential properties and continues along a river. I was accompanied by one group comprising of three tourists.
Kanmangafuchi is known for its row of about 70 stone statues of Jizo, a Bodhisattva who cares for the deceased. This particular group of Jizo statues is alternately called “Bake Jizo” (Ghost Jizo), “Narabi Jizo” (Jizo in a line) or “Hyaku Jizo” (100 Jizo). I did not see any caretaker but clothes on statue looked fresh and maintained. Entire scene looked more out a movie setup but it was for real.
The entire gorge is made of black volcanic rocks and it is quite evident how molten lava must have flown. The river flows through the channel created by molten lava. There is also a small pool called Kanmangafuchi pool. This pool is created by a small stretch of river where water runs a bit deep. The weather was cold and I had no intentions to take a dip. Emerald color of pool water is a treat to watch. I spent some time around the area clicking stone statues and river. All area was almost available to me.
Visiting a sac”red” bridge
While I liked the environment and isolation near the pool, I had to move to my next destination for the day. The Shinkyo Bridge (神橋, Shinkyō, “sacred bridge”) stands at the entrance to Nikko’s shrines and temples. The bridge is ranked as one of Japan’s sacred bridges.
The current bridge is over 400 years old. By paying any entry fee of 300Y one can take a walk over the bridge. I decided not be a part of history and clicked a few pictures of the bridge. I stayed till late near the bridge waiting for the lights to be turned on , expecting it get visually better. But I was disappointed by the strange choice of light colors. Flood lights used near the bridge were so terrible that it didn’t even look red anymore. I retreated back to my hotel for the day and called it a day. A hot vegetarian food (which I had pre-ordered) was waiting for me in Nikko Park Lodge.
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