Chuzen-ji area is famous for hiking, and the water falls. I'm not sure when these Swanboats were last used, but the resort town does not appear to get as many tourists as it once did. Though the town has a few ramshackle old storefronts, Chuzen-ji is famous for wood carving. The lakefront side walk is a nice place for a calm stroll, but check the weather. I visited in mid August, one of the hotter months of the year. Japan was suffering from the worst summer temperatures in 160 years. The Japanese kept detailed accounts of the weather and other natural phenomena over the duration of their civilization. Even so far as having records of tsunamis, from the South, caused by Earthquakes in pre-Columbian North America. Tokyo was veritable sauna while I was in Nikko, though the humidity was just as bad. The early morning was in the mid 80s, however by 2pm the temperature rose and the humidity turned Nikko National Park into a sweat lodge. You can see in the picture just how humid it was that day, the sheer haze covering the lake and distant shore. Despite the sweat, this is one of the best places I have been in Japan!
Kugen-no-Taki is only a 10-15 minute walk from the giant Tori gate entrance to Chuzen-ji's lakeside.
:How to get there:
There are 3 primary tracks to Nikko. They are Ascending in Price and Descending in Time.
I HIGHLY recommend buying the All-Nikko Bus Pass that is offered at the Tobu-Nikko station. For $60 you can ride every bus between Tobu-Nikko station and Senjougahara Ski-Area without paying additional fare for 3 days. This includes the Historic park in Nikko proper, containing the Tokugawa shrines and tombs.
:When to go:
Nikko is a great place to stop year round. Though the Spring is supposed to be brilliant, with the cherry trees. The temperatures in fall are far more agreeable, as with most of Japan. Summer can be a sweltering sauna. Weather can move in rather unsuspectingly. During my walk through the shrines, a sudden storm let loose a torrent of rain before miraculously disappearing as quick as it came. Making the humidity even more unbearable. The Ski-Resorts in the area are also decent, but I can not attest to that.
I recommend you reserve at least a whole day to visit the National Park. That will get you enough time to visit the Tokugawa Shogunate shrines and tombs, which are spectacular. If you plan to visit Chuzen-ji or do some hiking, I would suggest spending at least 2 days. Edo-Land is also a short train ride away.
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