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Justin Schultz
May. 8, 2022
Went to Karuizawa for Golden Week! We booked our shinkansen tickets well in advance so we were basically flipping a coin with the weather, but it still managed to be a really fun trip despite 2/3 days being rain. We were able to do a lot of shopping at the outlet mall near the station and other places in the area on the first and third days when it rained so it worked out perfectly. My girlfriend's friend was headed back home from Tokyo the same direction we were headed so she stayed one night with us and then we were able to all hang out and go shopping in Karuizawa for most of the day after which she hopped back on the shinkansen towards home. The second day was really nice weather, despite being just a bit chilly, but it was still nice enough that we were able to rent some bicycles and ride around the area. The place where we rented the bikes gave us a nice sightseeing route to go on and so we were able to see a bunch of different places and use our time effectively. When we were headed into town we crossed a bridge and there was a nice view of Mt. Asama with a ton of fisherman fishing along the river below the bridge. It was a pretty cool sight. We even got to see someone catch a fish as well. We obviously went to Shiraito Falls as well and it was really beautiful. There was a sign behind that described how the water took around 5 years to come out of the ground where the waterfall was or something to that effect as well. The path leading up the waterfall was quite neat as well, with the river running next to it and a giant fallen tree with more smaller waterfalls to go with it. There was also two wooden carvings of the characters from Demon Slayer (鬼滅の刃) which was interesting. The food in the area was delicious as well. We were staying at a pension and we only had breakfast with our stay, so we ended up going to another pension where they had yakiniku and we got a pretty good price for a massive platter of food. I was so full at the end I'm not sure how I made it back to where we were staying for the night lol. The third day we did some shopping up at Harunire Terrace (ハルニレテラス) and we kind of just relaxed in the area. It was a pretty trendy place surrounded by nature and there was a hot spring up the road as well. We wanted to go in the hot spring but there was a pretty long line so we decided to pass. We ate dinner at one of the restaurants at the terrace and while all of the indoor seats were taken, we were able to get some outdoor seating. It was cold out so I didn't think it would be a good idea, but they had some heaters outside and blankets and it was actually quite enjoyable. Had a lot of fun and it was a really great place. We might travel there again during the summer when it's warmer as well or maybe in autumn when the leaves change color. I definitely recommend giving it a visit!
  • Japan
  • Nagano Prefecture
  • Karuizawa
  • Travel
  • Sightseeing
  • Spring
  • Nature
  • Waterfall
  • Gourmet
  • Shopping
Justin Schultz
Feb. 15, 2022
Took a trip out to Nikko, Tochigi over the three day weekend and had an incredible time. The purpose of the trip was to celebrate my girlfriend's sister's college graduation so we wanted to make it as memorable as possible. I don't have enough room to fit this into one post so I'll post the rest throughout the week. We started out from Tokyo and had lunch somewhere Nikko Toshogu Shrine. I'm not sure if Yuba is a local specialty but it seemed like literally every single restaurant in the area was selling it so I'm assuming that was the case. It was my first time trying it and it was pretty interesting I guess you could say. It tasted alright with the soy sauce and radish but I think I prefer normal tofu instead. Either way it was a nice experience. After eating we headed out to Nikko Toshogu Shrine nearby and man was it amazing. Everything was so lavishly decorated that I couldn't stop taking photos. The pagoda was incredibly beautiful as well and the snow covering the Nikko area made everything even more beautiful. I was lucky enough to get a really nice shot of the corridor full of lanterns while no one was walking through the area as well. I also took a photo of the torii gate at the top of the steps as it had a very strong presence and signaled the end of the long journey up the steps to reach the inner shrine. Unfortunately the main gate was undergoing repairs so it was completely covered in tarp and surrounded by staging so I wasn't able to get a photo of it, but I did get some really cool shots of the main shrine. I tried as hard as I could to get some good photos of the grave of Tokugawa Ieyasu, and while I think the photo of the gate isn't bad, I think I'd need a better camera to get a good shot of the crane and his tomb. That being said it was still really awesome to see. After checking out the shrine we headed out to Kegon Falls and I managed to get some really nice videos and some decent photos as well. I can't post the videos or I would. It was really awesome seeing the icicles surrounding the waterfall and all of the frozen scenery as well. Even just taking the lift down to the waterfall was an experience. After we left the waterfall observation deck and went back up the elevator we got some suiton (水団, flour dumplings in soup) and shared it between the three of us as a light snack before dinner later that evening. We also visited Lake Chuzenji and admired the scenery there for a bit as well. We didn't spend a ton of time here so this photo was the best I could do. I like that I was able to get the sign in the shot though so I can't complain. After enjoying the view of the lake we headed to our hotel and ate dinner and had some wine. The place we stayed at was called "Lamb Chop" (ペンション・ラムチャップ日光). The food was great and service provided by the the owners was top notch, so I definitely recommend checking it out if you're looking for a place to stay in the area. After dinner we headed back to our room and I was so exhausted I fell asleep almost instantly. And that was the end of day 1! I'll post day two tomorrow since this post is getting quite long now!
  • Japan
  • Sightseeing
  • Nature
  • Travel
  • Winter
  • Nikko
  • Shrine
  • Snowscape
  • Waterfall
  • Gourmet

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