Senjogahara and Yumoto Onsen

Nikko Travel Blog

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We set off from Lake Chuzenji, hats on head, gloves on hands, and packs on back, walking from our ryokan to Kegon Falls, where we saw the dramatic (and icy) waterfalls, and took the bus to Ryuzu Falls. From there we started hiking behing the temple (also with waterfalls). We made it up the stairs, which had a great view of the lake, to face...a forest full of snow. Snow, like a foot deep in some places. We made it through the woods as the snow got deeper and thicker, but absolutely beautiful, til we crossed the road and made it to the boardwalk. We were probably about a mile in when we ran into a couple going in the other direction. The girl was in a skirt and tiny ballet flats. I was in leather sneakers and hiking pants, and stuggling. How she ever made it that far is totally beyond me.

Anyways, we make it onto the Senjogahara Plateau, which is a breathtaking and almost mysterious open plain full of tall yellow grasses between two mountains. Beyond that were winding paths the crossed woods and ponds that rivaled any manicured Japanese garden. We decided to take a short cut to the road, and the snow slowed us down quite alot and was exhausting to walk through, only to find that the worst part of the whole journey was just befor you get to the road. At one point I stepped into the snow that wasn't on top of the boardwalk and ended up thigh deep in packed snow. When I tried to get my foot out, I lost my balance and ended up face down in the snow. I almost lost it as Alex suppressed giggle, and we hurried out to the road as quickly as possible.

Once we made it to a bus stop on the road to Yumoto and sat down, the cold which hiking had staved off started to hit full force. We were freezing when the bus finally picked us up, and by the time we checked into the Kamaya Ryokan, it was snowing and I was running a fever and slightly delirious. Our accomodations could not have been more luxurious, or at least seemed so. We changed into yukata and make it down to a spectacular, gorgeous kaiseki dinner. At that point I pretty much passed out in the room and sweated out the fever while Alex went to the onsen. Really, there aren't many better places to be if you have to be sick. The next day I was better enough to try the onsen myself. The outdoor area was great, as it was literlly freezing outside but the water was hot hot hot, steamy, clear and sulfury. The indoor pool must have been turned up really high because I felt like my legs were burning, but maybe that was just remnants of the fever.

As we were leaving I could see that the ryokan was nestled at the foot of some mountains with ski runs on them.


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photo by: Shakar81