Retire in, travel to JapanThe setting for our dinner was a table overlooking a swimming pool with lanterns spewing out high flames.

This was a great ending to a perfect day.

Kinugawa is still part of Nikko and is mostly known for their hot springs, which were originally used exclusively by the Monks and Samurai during the Edo period. The Ryuokyo gorge is listed as number 5 out of 100 of the most scenic gorges in Japan.

What we discovered was a day of very enjoyable hiking without the crowds. Up early and out the door for some local sites before breakfast. A short distance from the hotel is the Tateiwa Suspension Bridge. It is 140 meters long (459 feet) and 37 meters (121 Feet) above the river. Out in the middle of the bridge is an excellent view of the Kinugawa River and surrounding mountains.

Back at the hotel we enjoyed a Japanese breakfast with many different dishes, including hand made tofu cooked at our table with a miso style dipping sauce. It was very tasty and made me think of what one of my relatives back in the states said to me once about eating tofu. He mocked me because his impression of tofu was that it is tasteless. Retire in, travel to JapanMany years ago I would have agreed with him, but since coming to Japan it has become a staple at our table, one that I enjoy very much. It is not only healthy, but the varieties in which tofu is used are endless. One of my favorite desserts is Annin Tofu.

After breakfast we checked out of the hotel, stored our belongings at a station locker, boarded a local train to Ryuokyo and the start of our hike along the gorge.

We met a lady who was drying local plums in the sun. She asked us to try one. I took one bite and my mouth puckered up from the very bitter taste. They had been soaked with Japanese basil and salt.

Just a few minutes from the station we approached the first of many waterfalls and walking bridges that go back and forth across the gorge.

We hiked along the river for about 16 kilometers (10 miles). Every trail led to a spectacular view. This area was much more rugged than yesterday’s trails. It did not take long before we pulled out walking sticks to keep our balance along the very rocky paths. I was videoing part of the hike when Miwa, who was in front me, began to scream. A very large snake crossed the path right where she was going to step. Needless to say, I no longer used the video and had to become the lead for the remainder of this trail. We had a cool breeze with us for almost the entire hike. It wasn’t until we came out of the gorge that the heat and humidity caught up with us.

We found a very small train station near a dam and rode back to Kinugawa for a late lunch and our return trip to Yokohama.

After lunch I enjoyed a local shaved ice treat, which uses water from the Nikko mountain streams.

Retire in, travel to JapanThe trains we rode for the distance part of the trip were as comfortable as the bullet trains. Living in Japan where there are not many long legged people, it is interesting that the leg-room on these trains are at least double those on commercial airplanes. For me at six feet this is a godsend, I can stretch out and enjoy the ride.

This was an excellent two-day trip away from the heat and humidity exploring nature, enjoying the local food and without crowds on the second day. We covered a little over 33 kilometers (20 miles) during the two days. Nikko is also a world heritage site with many shrines, temples, and festivals to be experienced year round. The total cost including all meals, transportation, hot springs, and hotel tax was 36,050 yen or $290 dollars for two. We used our JAL frequent flyer points for the hotel. I highly recommend exploring the Nikko area during your visit to Japan.

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