Sunday, November 1, 2015

the end of nikko...

I am so glad we made it to Nikko when we did.  Our last day was spent under waterfalls and leaves! and amidst some stinky hot pots :)

we woke up early and took the Romantic highway to see the world famous waterfalls and incredible scenery.  The romantic highway is an incredibly windy steep and scenic road with almost NO stopping points!  I wanted to get out and take pictures SO BADLY!! It was killing me.  I stole this pic from the internet to try and show the amazingness of this road.  It was wonderful. and beyond gorgeous.  miraculously nobody got carsick on these crazy curves!!

about half way up- we stopped at the Akechidaira ropeway to see the 'best views in nikko'.  
we packed our family- and at least 12 other Japanese friends into a teeny ropeway car and up the mountain we went.
mack kept all the Japanese people in line entertained and made some great new friends!  the people here LOVE him.
I have to say- the views from the platform at the top of Akechidaira are some of the best I've seen in my ENTIRE life.  This picture doesn't even begin to do the site justice.  The lighting made it hard to get the perfect picture- but the view of the falls, Lake Chuzenji, and the mountains was beyond stunning.  It's amazing to me how much more detail and magnitude and beauty that our eyes can see and process than even a pretty fancy camera :)
these are our Japanese friends! they were so kind to us! we stood in line with them for about half and hour- and rode the cable car up together.  They taught us phrases, laughed with our children, and begged to get pictures with us :)  I love meeting wonderful people like this.

After riding the ropeway- we drove over the mountains and to Lake Chuzenji and the giant kegon waterfall.   October isn't October until you've seen these colors and breathed in leafy air.  I was so happy here :)
we ran around up top and then took an elevator down through the mountain to stand at the base!  I thought the views from up top were MUCH better.  
the best thing about the bottom was this GINORMOUS stick of strawberry gum we bought at the gift shop :)  the kids were pretty stinking excited.  and surprisingly the gum was quite delicious!!
Inside the elevator hallway we found this little shrine that had a metta looking buddha engraving!
After the falls- we did some market shopping. we bought the biggest bag of perfectly crisp and sweet Fuji apples.  at a great price!!!  I still have such a hard time with produce prices in japan (I bought a head of lettuce for OVER 4 DOLLARS LAST WEEK!!!)!!!  but these nikko apples were perfect.  I am craving them now.  We made caramel apple cheesecake and homemade fresh caramel to dip them in. I want to drive back JUST to get another bag.  and then I took a picture by these weird guys.  we have NO clue what they could be,  any ideas?!
 after apples and waterfalls we visited the waterfront chuzenji shrine!!  we also found the perfect dragon statue here!

I almost forgot that our last day in Nikko was Mack's BIRTHDAY!  we didn't get him anything.  he's only 1. he doesn't care.  we did let him eat all of the jellies from the kids' meals on our trip.  he loved that.
He really is our little dragon.  half of the time he's adorable and I want to to squeeze him because he's so cute.  the other half of the time he's breathing fire at us and I want to squeeze him because he's driving me bonkers!!
 he thought we were going to drop him here.  I love his worried face!!!

 we visited two more sets of falls on our drive up the romantic highway.  One of them was so crowded we couldn't get a picture (ryuzu)! and the only way to view the falls was inside a store sitting at a restaurant.  we ran in for a peak- ate some terribly gooey and sticky rice paste- and then hung out in the great leaves :)
 Kent's favorite part of the trip were the Yutaki falls.  We have NEVER seen waterfalls like these.  and there were 10 busses full of elementary and middle school kids here.  They LOVED practicing their english on us!  Kent asked a group of about ten of them: "hello! how are you?" and in perfect unison they answered; "fine, and you??".  Maybe you had to be there- but it was so funny.
 these falls were really tall - skinny at the top- but very wide at the bottom- and ran down a steep slope- but didn't actually 'fall'.  so- maybe it should have been called a waterslide instead.   Metta jumped in these kids' picture.  they loved it.
 they were so strange,  can you see their strangeness in this picture??
 Our last adventure was to round the top of the romantic highway to visit the sulfury town of Yumoto! It was probably my favorite part of the day. The town smells so strongly of sulfur and is Onsen heaven.  and- it was beautiful.
 we ran into our school friends at the city foot onsen  It was pretty crowded for awhile there!!
 once again- mack was dying to dive in and swim.  this water was much murkier and stinkier than the other onsen- but not quite as hot in the spots away from the spiggots pumping in fresh stinky water :).
 I don't think the kids cared at all- but I'm sure every time mack's diaper touched the water- the adults were cursing the crazy americans. I tried so hard to keep it out of the water!!!  I think he's scorching his chubby little toes and kneecaps here :)
 when the kiddos finally cleared out - it got much more relaxing.
 after our foot spa- we took a walk to the fount of all yumoto onsens!  and metta found cat alley. she loved it.
 i love japan.
 we wandered the boardwalks out over bubbly green water and hissing hot pots!  It was perfect.
 we even visited the onsen shrine dedicated to public baths.

 if we can't take our kids to Yellowstone- this is a close second :)  just no buffalo or bears!!
 we have really great kids who come along with us on our adventures happily.  for the most part.
 our entire trip was lovely.  and our kids were pretty well behaved!  they now ALL have their own Nintendo DSes to keep them entertained in the car thanks to the Hard off!  it's the 2nd hand store near our house where they sell Dses for 7 dollars.  anybody want one??

Come visit us and we'll take you to Nikko and buy you a DS! :)