I visited my friend Matt, who is from the States, up in Utsunomiya on July 4th and 5th. He works for ECC as well but in Utsunomiya there isn’t much to do except eat gyoza, which is what Utsunomiya is famous for. I wanted to visit him and take him to Nikko since it is very close to Utsunomiya and he has never been there. I took the regular train up Sunday afternoon since I didn’t want to pay for the shinkansen. The regular train was still pretty expensive but the difference in time is not that great for the price you pay. Anyway, I got to my friends apartment in the evening and relaxed for a little bit. His apartment is a typical small Japanese style apartment with the kitchen, bath, and shower squished into one half, and the bed, desk, and small living area squished into the other. He then took me to this small restaurant/bar near his place that he goes to a lot. The place had hundreds of cat figurines and statues all over the walls, and it was run by this one Japanese guy only. The place was small, but that Japanese guy could really cook. The food was amazing! He made us the absolute best gyoza and fried rice ever. He also gave us free edamame and shochu. Afterwards we celebrated the 4th of July by shooting off some bottle rockets, which can be bought at any convenience store for cheap, in a quiet Japanese neighborhood.
Okay… now on to the Nikko part. I took Matt to see all the famous temples of Nikko: Toshogu Shrine, Rinnoji Temple, Ieyasu’s grave, Futarasen Shrine, and the Shinkyo Sacred Bridge. I have seen them before, but it was great to go visit them again.
This Matt and a French traveler we met on the bus. The French person was really nice and shared her photocopy of the Nikko information out of a tour book with Matt.