Monday, May 24, 2010

Visiting Nikko

Okay. Lots of pictures today. These are of my weekend with Sasha and her friend Katie.

I "know" Sasha because her mother and I visit each other's blogs. I would read Shelina's blog and learn about the quilts she was making, about her daughter's interest in Japan, and about the Japanese home stay students that would stay in their home. And somewhere along the line we realized that Shelina didn't live far from Leiya in Ohio! Two years ago when Tetsu and I went to Ohio for Leiya's graduation, Shelina drove out to have breakfast with us at a restaurant. Shelina is the only blog friend (and I've only "met" one other) who has met Tetsu.

When I learned that Sasha was visiting Japan again I told Shelina to definitely give Sasha my e-mail address and we would see if we could get together. And that's what we did!

The first place we visited was Mashiko the pottery town and we browsed for a couple hours but bought little. For one thing pottery is heavy and bulky and breakable so unless a foreign tourist is really into pottery it is hard to buy things to take home. It is fun to look though.

There was also an indigo dye workplace and it I snapped the girls' picture outside at the drying area. Beautiful dyed fabric but TOO EXPENSIVE!

On the way home from the pottery town Sasha wanted to stop at a fabric store to buy Japanese fabric for her mom and she chose a few things there. Here again, even normal fabric is EXPENSIVE (about $13 a yard) so you don't get a lot for your money but she had fun picking out things. I'm sure Shelina can make something lovely with the choices.

On Sunday it was a rainy day but we went up to the historical part of Nikko and visited shrines and temples. Sorry. Even though these are all famous places the names all run together in my mind. This is a famous temple. Believe me. (I'm a lousy tour guide.)

And here is another famous place though this might be a shrine rather than a temple...

Outside the shrines are places to buy your fortune and practically everyone will buy an envelope. If the fortune is good I think they take it home. If the fortune is bad they leave it at the shrine usually on designated areas but in this case the trees edging the road were filled with fortunes.

And these plaques are bought for good luck and then hung outside of the shrine. On some of them people had written wishes for finding the perfect mate, the healthy birth of a baby, and the most common, for passing the entrance tests to school. (The coins on there also symbolize good luck.)

Our next stop was up the side of the mountain to Lake Chuzenji. Just going up the mountain makes me nervous because of all the sharp curves (40 some) but in the old days the road used to be two ways whereas nowadays it is well banked and one way up and another way down on the other side of the mountain. It isn't as bad a trip as I always am afraid it is going to be.

Lake Chuzenji is a famous resort area and many of the foreign embassies have/had villas or get away cottages for their ambassadors and foreign guests. A little way through the woods is a lovely cottage that once belonged to the Italian Embassy and which is now open to the public so we spent a short time relaxing there. The view was spectacular from all the windows!

And then we went to visit one of the most famous waterfalls in Japan. Small by comparison to some of the wonders of the world but in lovely surroundings. This was the first time for me to get to this waterfall (another elevator breaking through nature to take all the tourists right to the "natural sight") so now I can say I've been to Nikko. (I live here, right?)

I had a lovely time with two lovely girls.

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