Retire in, travel to JapanThe rainy season has come to a close bringing with it the hot and humid air. The past few days in Yokohama had been almost unbearable. I had to cut my daily walking in half and even in the early morning my clothes were soaked within the first few minutes. The temperature is now exceeding 36 C (96.8 F) with 90% humidity.

Back in June we had canceled a reserved trip to Nikko because of the heavy rain forecast. We were given one change without additional charges and booked July 26th as our option.

On Sunday morning we rose early to catch a 6:20 a.m. train to the Oku-Nikko area for some hiking. Nikko is about two hours north west of Tokyo. After three station changes we finally arrived and immediately boarded a bus bound for the northern end of Lake Yunoko. Combined with a gentle breeze off the lake and temperatures around 26C, (79F) our goal of hiking the Senjo-Ga-Hara course had become a reality.

Twenty minutes into our hike we came to Yutaki, one of the three famous falls in the area, the other two being Kegon and Ryuzu falls. At the basin the air was cool and refreshing.

Retire in, travel to JapanWe stopped near the falls and ate our bento lunch under a sweet smelling pine tree, and then continued on a few kilometers to the lessor known Kotaki falls.

There were many people along the trails out enjoying this beautiful day. It is interesting to note when you ride the transportation system people are quiet and keep to themselves, but when out on the trails they become very friendly. Almost every person we passed greeted us with “Konnichiwa” and a smile.

Continuing on a short distance we came to the Odashiro-bashi Bridge with a jungle like atmosphere. I stood on the bridge and took in the lush vegetation while pointing my camera in every direction. A little downstream I spotted a man in full gear wading with his fishing pole in hopes of catching a prize meal.

Another 30 minutes to the Senjo-Ga-Hara Plateau (Battlefield). The reason for the battlefield name was the God of Mt. Mantai went to war with the God of Mt. Akagi. Do not know who won, but the views were majestic. Almost all of the trails in this area were on an elaborate boardwalk system.

There were many observation points along the way with various wildflowers, marshes, scenic mountain views, accompanied with happy sounding birds mixed with noisy cicadas. The main point of interest in this area are the over 100 species of swamp plants.

I placed the settings to panorama and shot several 360 pictures of the fields of wildflowers with the distant mountain range as a backdrop.

From here we took a short walk to Shakunage-bashi Bridge, where you can see many rhododendron, thus the name Shakunage. For just a moment I was taken back in time to the mountains of North Carolina and the multitude of rhododendrons all along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Retire in, travel to JapanA trail marker indicated we were not far from Ryuzu, split falls, 210 meters (689 feet).

We had previously visited this area a few years ago and everywhere we looked was snow. Today the ground was covered with green vegetation and the river dark gray rocks.

Our final hiking destination was another 45 minutes along Lake Chuzenji shore to a bus stop and a trip back to Nikko train station, where we took a train to Kinugawa.

This area is famous for it’s Onsen (Hot Springs) where we booked a cottage at the Kinugawa Park hotels.

At 6 p.m. Miwa and I had our own private open-air hot bath. The water temperature was 41 degrees C (105.8 F). We could only stay in the water for about 10 minutes at a time.

It was refreshing after a long day of hiking and a nice preclude to a traditional Japanese dinner at the restaurant Tsukimi-tei.

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