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// OCTOBER 2014
To Tokyo and even further...
Narita
Nikko
Nagoya
Ise
Hiroshima
Yoshino
Koya
Osaka
Kyoto
Yokohama
Tokyo
Nara
Kamakura
Seoul
Tokyo
Narita
Nagano
Joetsu
Inawashiro
Shirakawa
Itsukushima
Imabari
Niihama
Sakaide
Onomichi
Yoshima Island
Ako

Nikko
 

26th of October 2014
Here we go again…

Back to the airport and I ask for the rail pass. They explain to me that if we want to activate it, they have to check our passports, so as to see the exact date of our entrance in the country. My worst fears come true. The Japanese are very strict with regulations and as you may well have understood already, we weren’t able to book it!

Meanwhile, the employee is prepared to help us by issuing us another pass, which concerns only the areas around Tokyo and it has a three days discount for all the trips. So, we got the two tickets to Nikko_ one way_ with the discount pass and we started our journey.



Nikko, I love you!

 We arrive at Nikko, after a 3,5 hours journey. Up to a point we went with the “sigashen” and then with the traditional little train. The “sigashen” part of our journey was very well organized and designed in absolute chronometry. You wait at a specific door to enter the train and to find your seat. There was no waist of time at all. Not even a second missing. Amazing punctuality!

So, we got off at Nikko. When we entered the station we found a map of the area and realized that a big journey would be necessary, if we wanted to see the monuments of Universal Heritage. Outside the station, we saw a ground office with the label “rent a car”. We looked at each other meaningfully. «Here we are!» I say. Since the previous day, our main trouble was how to make the regular driving license look more like the international one. So, with a little help of a small clasp knife we scratched the written by pen dates and changed them with new ones afterwards. We were quite satisfied with the result. Why shouldn’t they be too? We enter the office, say hello, and when the employee arrives we explain that we need a car.

«When?»
«Now! Till the 4rth of November».
«I’ve got one available», he says!

He asks for our documents and the international license! We give it and pretend to be cool. Fortunately, the employee left it aside!! His first priority was the offer that he was going to make to us. We booked the car! What a joy! After securing the vehicle we asked them to put in the GPS the address of our hotel and specific instructions for the main road with the tolls that leads back to it! I didn’t bother, at the time, anymore with the GPS.

Our next problem was to find a parking. It seemed to be an impossible task because of the many tourists. Fortunately, a local lady was kind enough to offer us one of her home’s warehouses in which we could leave our vehicle. We gave her 10.000 yen and she was so happy that she had been advertising it all over the place!

«Look what I’m holding! I’ve got a 10.000 yen note in my hands!» she was almost screaming enthusiastically.


 When will we get to understand each other?

 We are on our way to see the monuments of the Universal Heritage.
 


We arrive at the archeological area, where the first big argument started.
We ask from the girl at the ticket counter to buy a ticket which will allow us to see it ALL. She asks for 1200 yen.

«Will I be able to see it all???» I ask her again emphatically!
She nodes and we get our tickets.
We enter the archeological area and we visit first the museum. We see the Rinno ji_ a complex of 15 Buddhist temples_ which was under reconstruction, while, in parallel, we try to find what we are mainly interested in, the Toshogu Shrine. The place is packed from the lots of tourists, our feet sink, literally, into the pebbles and the road uphill is steep and makes our walking even more difficult.


We reach at a gate where we had to show our tickets so as to be allowed to pass. We did as we were told

«NO!» he says the guy emphatically.
«What do you mean “No”?» I’m asking him, while I look at Christos desperately.

That No did not leave any ground for discussion!

«This is the wrong ticket!» says the man.
«WHAT???» I exclaim. «What do you mean by saying it is the wrong ticket? I came from the other side of the world just to see this place!»

He ignores me and gets around me! I try to give him some money! Again he ignores me and calls somebody else to take his place! I try to find him. There is a frieze between us, but I dare cross it and here I am again in front of him! The man seems astonished and tries to keep me at a distance! He has already called a superior employee and waits for him to come. After a while…a “saolin” arrives. He was looking terrified and his English was better than the other guy’s!

«This isn’t the right ticket!» he informs me.
«Am I at a monument of Universal Heritage and you are telling me that I can’t see it, because I don’t have the right tickets? Wasn’t the employee at the ticket counter supposed to tell me which ones are the right tickets?»

Realizing how disappointed and angry I was, the man took our tickets and run back to change them, but instead of the right tickets, he brought us the correct amount of money so as to buy the tickets ourselves!! More lost time! We follow him, get around the queue and buy the correct tickets. We pass again through the control and I see the previous employee smiling at us!

«Don’t you dare giving me the smiles! I feel like grabbing you by the neck, right now!»
I tell him in Greek. An empty threat, really! I’m already cooling down.

Eventually we manage to get inside. A magical world is spread in front of us!
 




We see a dozen of buildings within a beautiful forest. Countless wooden engraves and great quantities of golden leaves decorate the buildings in a unique way that can not be seen anywhere else in Japan, while the simplicity emphasizes the traditional architecture. The Toshogu includes so much Shinto as much as Buddhist elements. It was a common practice for the sanctuaries to include elements of both religions until the Meiji Period, when Shinto was parted on purpose from Buddhism. All over Japan, Buddhist elements were taken off the sanctuaries and vice versa, but at Toshogu the two religions were united in such a perplex way that a partition could never be complete.



On our way back, we pass through another important worth seeing sight of Nikko, the famous red wooden bridge. The Shinkyo Bridge. Before we left the place, we took some beautiful photos.



We get in the car, ready to return to our hotel. The gps was already programmed and we reached easily at the first tolls! The problem was that the gps was saying, of course, that the tolls were in 300 meters distance and it was informing us about the money that we had to pay, but there weren’t any further instructions apart from turning right or left. After the tolls, there were two labels: “Fukosima-Tokyo”. And at that point, rather overconfident… I make the wrong decision and say to Christos:

«Let’s go towards Fukosima». 

We had to drive for 40 kilometers before being able to make a u turn on the motorway and another 40 before eventually getting back. We drive the other way round for first time and the night has fallen and it is very dark. With lots of efforts, eventually, we manage to reach our hotel at Narita airport.

When I get inside, I go to the concierge and I ask where we can park our car and if he can show us how to use properly the GPS.

And then I realized that the gps was working with phone numbers. For each sight that we wanted to visit, we should know its phone number basically, so as to enter it and make the gps functional.

But that was not the only problem. Even with the correct phone number put in the gps, I would still have more than one option and that meant that I should have to choose among destinations which were all written in perfect Japanese. Great!


And that was only the beginning…

So we go upstairs to our room and look at each other in relief.  
«We arrived at last! And we have a car too!»
From then on everything went smoothly. Impression and conclusion of the first day: It all went wrong!            

Country: Japan
Date: 2014
Route: Japan - S. Korea
Cities: Narita, Nikko, Nagoya, Ise, Hiroshima, Yoshino, Koya, Osaka, Kyoto, Yokohama, Tokyo, Nara, Kamakura, Seoul, Tokyo
Duration: 15
Cost:
Population: 126.311.000
Rating:
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Country: Japan
Date: 2014
Route: Japan - S. Korea
Cities: Narita, Nikko, Nagoya, Ise, Hiroshima, Yoshino, Koya, Osaka, Kyoto, Yokohama, Tokyo, Nara, Kamakura, Seoul, Tokyo
Duration: 15
Cost:
Population: 126.311.000
Rating:
comments
VIEW
Country: Japan
Date: 2014
Route: Japan - S. Korea
Cities: Narita, Nikko, Nagoya, Ise, Hiroshima, Yoshino, Koya, Osaka, Kyoto, Yokohama, Tokyo, Nara, Kamakura, Seoul, Tokyo
Duration: 15 days
Cost:
Population: 126.311.000
Rating:
comments
VIEW