We have one more day of teaching before our Golden Week holiday. In Japan, April 29th is a national holiday known as Greenery Day and May 3rd to 6th is Golden Week. Our employer gives us the three days between these two holidays as days in lieu of other national holidays when the school doesn’t close. That provides us with an eight day break. Originally we’d thought about going to South Korea but by the time we got to Japan, got settled in and started looking at booking flights, the Japanese had made their holiday plans and flights were full. We decided to stay in Japan and will probably go to Korea during our summer vacation in August.
On Tuesday we’re heading to Nikko, some 3 to 4 hours from here by train. Nikko, a community of approximately 18 000, is well known for it’s splendid temples and shrines as well as its onsen (hot springs). Nikko, which is inland from here, is part of the Nikko National Park, a mountainous area complete with extinct volcanoes, lakes, waterfalls and marshes. While we’re there, we hope to visit nearby Chuzenji-ko lake and Kegon-no-taki, a 97 metre high waterfall. If the weather cooperates, we’ll probably do some hiking in that area. With a name like Golden Week, how could it not be sunny and warm? Hopefully that’s not just wishful thinking!
We have reserved a traditional Japanese room with shared bath at a small inn in Nikko for 3 nights. The inn is also preparing a traditional Japanese dinner for us one evening while we’re there.
A visit to at least one of the onsen is an absolute must while we’re at Nikko but it will take a fair amount of courage on my part. Unlike North American hot springs, Japanese onsen are considered public baths and as such, swimsuits are not worn. Fortunately for those of us gaijin (foreigners) who are not used to getting naked with total strangers, most are separated into male and female baths. Some also provide “modesty towels” to cover your most private bits and pieces until you slip into the water. One of my adult students assured me that I needn’t worry, the hot springs are indeed very hot and the resulting steam makes it difficult for bathers to see one another. I hope she’s right!
Since our grandson is yet to be born, I may seek out an internet cafe if such a thing exists in Nikko but I likely won’t be blogging until we return. We’re coming home on Friday and will do some day trips from here during the remainder of our break. That will be the actual Golden Week holiday during which schools and most businesses other than stores, are closed. As a result, everywhere we go will be extremely crowded but we’ll return to our quiet apartment at night.