Feb. 16, 2022
Continuing on from yesterday's post...

On the second and final day of our trip we woke up and ate a light breakfast followed by some udon and soba at a nice little restaurant on the way to the Kirifuri Highlands (霧降高原).

We were originally planning on hiking up to the observation deck around 880 meters up the mountain, but it proved to be a little farther than we thought it would be an had to stop at around 650 meters as there was a massive staircase to reach the observation deck and not everyone in the group was up for the challenge lol.
Not having the proper gear didn't help much either.
Most people had on snow shoes and they could easily trek through the snow but wearing just boots or tennis shoes we were a bit under-equipped and decided it'd be better not to overdo it.
We got to see some really amazing views and talk to an 85-year-old man who told us what gear we should buy if we're planning on hiking in the snow, about how the dam located on the mountains across from us rises and falls during the day/night, and how this was his ~60th time climbing the mountain but the woman he came with has done it more than 300 times.
She had to turn back early that day, but those are some impressive numbers!

After enjoying the outdoors we headed over to Nikko Edomura/Edo Wonderland (日光江戸村) and had a blast exploring the theme park.
We arrived at about 2pm so we got a nice discount on our all-day passes.

Walking around we got to see all of the different buildings that gave the theme park its Edo-Period-feel.
We also got to see the oiran procession (花魁道中) which was really awesome as well.

It seemed like they tried to make it as accurate as possible too.
The way the courtesan walked was in the traditional figure eight style which, from what I've read, is not easily done, so I assume that this is a sort of special type of profession as she was doing it (to my untrained eye) perfectly.
One funny thing was that the girls in red in front of the courtesan had to slouch somewhat because they were too tall and the theme park obviously can't employ children to play the role like they would have traditionally.

We also got some temporary "tattoos."
They got some cute Nyan-mage tattoos and I got a Shinsengumi tattoo lol.

After that we watched a really awesome performance inside of the ninja theater, but we weren't allowed to film or take photos so I don't have anything to post unfortunately.
It was really cool seeing the ninja actors jumping off of rooves and fighting though.

On top of that we also tried out the ninja maze where I was unfortunately the last one to make it out as I got unlucky and hit a dead end at the last part of the maze.
This was a really fun experience as there were a lot of hidden and revolving doors that you had to find to escape the maze.

We also did the shuriken experience and I managed to get 3/5 but I gave one of my shuriken to my girlfriend in the hopes that she would stick one in the target but unfortunately she wasn't able to lol.
I guess I was technically 3/4 because of that.

Overall the whole trip was a blast and we got to make some awesome memories out in Tochigi.
I definitely recommend it as a travel destination!
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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!