It was a rainy and chilly Tuesday morning, but I dragged myself out of bed on my day off to visit Nikko, one of the best foliage destinations near Tokyo. Two & a half hours and three rain rides later, I reached Tobu Nikko station and the rain was still relentless. That’s the only time I realized that my old, polka-dotted umbrella from Singapore was missing. It was no big deal, because in this country, there’s always a convenience store nearby.
Armed with my new clear, 360-yen plastic umbrella from the kombini, I walked to the stop hopped on a bus that goes to the Toshogu Shrine, a World Heritage Site. With my bulky Canon camera on my left hand and an umbrella on the other, I took countless photos of the ornate details and fine wood carvings.
Following the quick tour of the historic shrine complex, I headed towards my next stop on foot. Along the way, I saw alleys punctuated by bright red and yellow orange trees. I followed the sound of the gushing river and finally caught a glimpse of the famous Shinkyo Bridge. It was love at first sight. I must say my camera was extremely elated too 🙂
Dozens of shots later, I was on my way to Kegon Waterfall, the highest waterfall at this side of Japan, rising to a height of almost 100 meters. I took a 40-minute bus ride up a winding road so foggy and spooky, it felt like a scene from the apocalypse. When I stepped out of of the bus, a cold and dreary ghost town greeted me.
I followed the sound of the crashing waters, but unfortunately, no waterfall was in sight – just a thick and creepy blanket of fog. But if there’s any consolation, I came across a few Japanese macaque monkeys frolicking by the cliff, unfazed by the cold. Seeing their furry, blushing faces and matching pink buttocks made the dizzying bus ride somewhat worth it.
Before I froze in the 6-degree weather, I boarded the bus to the main station and took the train home. I reached my neighborhood station after a butt-numbing ride and I decided to try my luck and ask one of the staff members for my missing umbrella, 8 hours after I last saw it. He directed me to the Lost and Found section and to my surprise, my cheap, polka-dotted umbrella was there. My prodigal umbrella has returned! Thanks to the kind soul, who made sure I didn’t lose an umbrella for the umpteenth time! And thanks to beautiful Nikko, who gave me another day-off to remember. I have officially fallen in love with Fall in Japan 🙂