Day 13

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Tuesday, June 1—Tokyo/Nikko/Tokyo

As Advertised: Following breakfast served in your hotel, you will take a full day tour to Nikko. Explore the ornate Toshogu Shrine, the final resting place of the first Tokugawa Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu. Travel to Lake Chuzenji along the picturesque Irohazaka Driveway. Witness thundering Kegon Falls, known for its rainbow displays on sunny days, and Ruzonotaki the Dragon’s Head Cascade. This afternoon you will return to Tokyo.

We were scheduled to leave for Nikko at 8 a.m., so I got up at 5:30, and we went down to breakfast a little before 7. This first morning in Tokyo we ate in the Grill Medallion restaurant, which served the typical Japanese/Western buffet. As usual, we tried to eat our money’s worth: the meal, if we had been paying for it, would have cost ¥1,890.

The drive to Nikko took an hour and a half. Along the way, Kyoko filled us in, as usual, with many useful facts. The name Nikko, we learned, means “Sunshine.” It is a small city, with a population of about 22,000, the same as Hakone. About a third are engaged in businesses related to tourism, as the city sees six million tourists a year.

After visiting the Toshogu Shrine, we had lunch at the Nikko Kanaya Hotel. We then went on to Lake Chuzenji to wind our way up the 48 hairpin turns of Irohazaka Drive to view and photograph two waterfalls. We then returned to the buses to drive back to the hotel, arriving about 6:15 p.m.

Our hotel was across the street from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office Building, the tallest building in Tokyo, and we had been told that there was a free observatory at the top of each of its two towers. Kyoko had given us explicit instructions for getting there: cross the street from the hotel, enter the building in front, go down one floor, cross a courtyard, enter the parking garage, and take an elevator to the top. We started to do this, but it turned into the most awful wild goose chase. For some reason I had gotten it into my head that there was an escalator down, and so it didn’t seem prudent to attempt that with Dad in a wheelchair. As it turned out, Dad was walking, anyway, but in our attempt to make the walk more level for him, we ended up going by a circuitous route that was much more work for him and was agonizingly slow, taking many times as long as the direct route would have. By the time we finally got to the top, it was no longer daylight, so there was little to see but lighted windows and signs here and there. Fortunately, numerous posters showed us what we would be seeing from any given vantage point if we’d been able to see anything.

When we finally got back to the hotel, we experienced more infuriating delays as we tried to persuade Dad that it would not be practical to take him to the Wendy’s several blocks away in Shinjuku. I had filled one of the memory cards in my camera, and I was anxious to get to Yodobashi Camera to get the images transferred to a CD. We left Dad with Tom and Joan, saying that we would meet them at Wendy’s if we got through in time. As fate would have it, by the time we got to Wendy’s, it was closed, so we ended up at a Starbucks instead.

We got back to the hotel about 10:30. Joan had requisitioned an iron and ironing board, so I stayed up to wait for her to finish with them. They turned out to be the only marginally satisfactory ironing equipment I used on the entire trip. I ironed three dresses and fell in bed about midnight.

A night view of Shinjuku from the North Tower Observatory of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.

Another view.

An out-of-focus shot of a poster showing the view on a clear day, including Mount Fuji.