Nikoo...you can witness autumn here before Tokyo and Kyoto:)
Nikko truly is a magical place, because the next tale is also from this land of eternal beauty. I was handed a chit with the name of a vegan café in Nikko written in English. I walk up and down the lane twice, but unable to spot any shop with that name. I then spot a local unloading a dispatch truck, I show him the chit, hoping he would know the place. Hard luck, he did not. Good luck, he is a Japanese. Unlike what most of us would do, he did not send me away with a simply sorry. He first searched for the place on google map, figured it’s a two minute walk on the same lane I was and then took the chit from me and wrote the English word in Japanese characters, so that I can match it and identify the shop’s name board. All this took a good five-seven minutes, but that man was more than happy to help. And did I add, he did not know English, I did not understand Japanese. All you need to help someone, is intention I guess. I walk the lane for two minutes, now matching the board names with the chit in my hand and in a matter of time, I found what I was looking for, and realized the place did not have an English board at all. Thanks to the truck guy or I would have never found this place.Arigato Japan
On my third day in Japan, which was spent in beautiful nikko, I stayed at this cozy hostel called Nikko House Sumaica. After a tiring and memorable day of sightseeing and fun, I was busy tiding my backpack sitting in the common area of the hostel. Once, I had rounded up all that needs to go in the bin, the hostel lady stopped me. She had spotted the two-day tourist Nikko pass I was about to throw in the bin. I did not realize it was a two-day pass, also I was to leave Nikko the next morning, so I decided to throw it. “Trade it with some tourist morning for half rate,” she says with a smile. I smile back and tell her, maybe she can keep it and give to some tourist at her hostel, I suggest. To be sure, so far I was offering it without any expectation of getting money for it. She then looks at her employee, a sweet 21 year old, with bright eyes, the kind of eyes filled with dreams that people have at that age. She asks me to give it to her, as the young girl plans to go for a day tour tomorrow. To be sure again, I am still happy and the idea of getting money in return for it has not even crossed my mind. The hostel lady, then herself decides the young girl can buy it from me for 500 yen. The young girl is more than happy to receive the 2500 yen pass for a discounted rate and hands me a 500 yen coin and I swear I am still looking at the girl and the hostel lady to figure out what happened.
It has been a lovely morning as I get see autumn leaves for the first time in my life in Nikko. Having lived the beauty, it is time to take a bus back to the hostel area. As I walk towards the bus stop, I see a bus approaching. Buses from this bus stop come with a lag and I did not wish to miss this one. I start running in the direction of the bus stop. The bus passes the stop and then me and zooms past. I am left with a goofy grin realizing it is not the bus that halts at this particular stand. An elderly Japanese couple waiting at the bus stop returns the smile. They tell me the next bus meant to halt at this stand will take another ten minutes. The conversation starts with which country and quickly moves to “Only one?” Given a large population in Japan does not speak English, most Japanese translate the question “Are you travelling alone?” to “Only one” and I each time answer with a big smile, “Yes, only one”.Our conversation revolves around Japan building the bullet train and how beautiful the “husband” in the couple found Bombay to be. After sometime the bus arrives, we take our seats. After a few stops, the elderly couple calls out to me again, while I am lost in nature’s beauty. “Which stop?’ the elderly man asks, “The last one”, I say. They gesture theirs is the next stop and bid me goodbye. With that smile, the autumn leave for me just got a little brighter.***I board the bullet train with my big backpack, find my seat and apologize to my co passenger for the inconvenience. She, on the other hand, helps me place the big bag, the small bag and also my latest priced possession from Japan- my umbrella. Once settled, the expected question is asked, “Only one?” I smile and repeat, “Yes, only one". She is travelling with her other four friends and seems to be having a merry time. I wonder, if I would too travel the same way in my forties, fifties with my best friends, I hope I do. As a consolation prize for travelling alone, I am offered a chocolate. I quickly accept the chocolate offered with so much affection and gobble it up. It’s only after a few minutes; I remembered what my mom said, “Do not accept food from strangers while travelling in a train.” But mom, this is Japan and its people too good to refuse.***
I want to travel to Japan.Lets googleOh cherry blossom is April-MayBut I want to travel in October, its my birthdayLets google againOh lovely, its autumn timeYay yay yay,But wait, Japan’s autumn season starts in September, but it takes a good two months before it makes an appearance in places like Tokyo and KyotoDamn it!The above conversation is what yours truly had with her own self. But, autumn has to be seen, experienced, loved and awed about. And when you desire something earnestly, the universe conspires.My blessing came in the form of Nikko. Nikko, my love. I want to have a daughter, and name her nikko, no I want to have a daughter and name her autumn. Sorry, I digress, but I hope you get my crazy love for this place.So here is how my Nikko love affair began. My flight tickets and hotel bookings were done- Tokyo, Mt fuji, Kyoto and back to Tokyo. But there was a small hitch, none of these places experience autumn in October or atleast in the first half. So, I consult travel bloggers- go to nikko they say, but not sure you will find autumn there too, they say. But anyways Nikko is beautiful, they say. It’s a risk, and I shall take it.