Waterfalls and lakes
After a morning at the temple, we took the bus out of Nikko a little way to visit the Kegon Falls, a huge waterfall in the hills.
We were taken down to near the base of the waterfall in a lift which opened out onto a viewing platform. The waterfall itself was immense and beautiful, and the cool spray of water landing on us was very welcome. We spent quite a while on the platform taking photos and enjoying the view until it was time to head back to the surface. We meandered along past some of the shops and cafes towards the lake which feeds the waterfall, Lake Chuzenji. Sitting by the lakeside with a few cans of Asahi, in the stillness of the early evening made for a relaxing end to the day.
Logan and I allowed ourselves a little lie in the next morning before heading out on another bus to a woodcarving workshop. Though painted as a tourist destination in various places we had looked, the woodcarving workshop was apparently in a community centre of a small village outside of Nikko and was a fairly quirky, small-time affair. The workshop was run by a wild-haired older lady with a lined, smiling face reminiscent of a school art teacher. We each chose an item to carve and a design which was traced onto the item for us to follow. Despite limited verbal communication, the teacher was very helpful and encouraging and showed us how to use the tools so that we are now both the proud owners of a hand-carved wooden hand mirror. She was evidently pleased with our attempts to speak Japanese and found it amusing when Logan wrote his name using the Japanese katakana alphabet.
After the class, we decided not to wait for the bus back, but instead picked our way along a shady forest path, across a river and back into Nikko in time for a cup of tea and slice of pear tart in a little cafe by the station.
The afternoon was spent back at the lake, this time prepared with our swimming things and a somewhat eclectic Japanese-English picnic. The lake water was very cool and pleasant in the afternoon sun and the picnic was just right. Since arriving in Japan I have become a bit of a fan of the enormous sweet juicy peaches (or "momo") that are sold from little stands by the sides of the road. In hot weather they really are the perfect snack.
Our swim came to a rather abrupt end when a policeman arrived and summoned us out of the lake using the megaphone in his car. Evidently we were not supposed to swim in that particular part of the lake. Fortunately though, he seemed to appreciate that it was purely a misunderstanding on our part and after he was satisfied that we would not be going back in the lake here, he found a map for us and showed us where we could swim if we wished. Not our proudest moment, perhaps, but at least it was easliy resolved!
After another stroll around the nearby area, we headed back into Nikko, found ourselves a nice simple tea and turned in early. Tomorrow, we would return to Tokai for a brief overnight stay before heading to Kyoto...