Tochigi, Japan: Return to Senjogahara Plateau

Chuzenji-no-taki: Chuzenji waterfall
You could say Tochigi is my playground. I just love the place. Take a long slow train over to Tobu-Nikko station and there are many options. Most tourists would spend the whole day at the temple complex, Toshogu, Rinnoji and of course, snap photos of the stable with 3 monkeys. But the hidden gem of Nikko is the many hiking opportunities like Chuzenji to the northwest and Kirifuri area to the northeast.I’ve been to Senjogahara and Kirifuri before, and the links are embedded in the two names in this sentence.

Senjogahara Plateau

Senjogahara is in the northwest just further up from Chuzenji. Chuzenji is, of course, synonymous with a waterfall, not just a normal waterfall, but one that drops hundreds of meters. The lake that feeds the waterfall, Chuzenji lake, is relatively large, and on a plateau in the highlands. On a summer day, there are anglers spaced evenly along its banks. I don’t have proof, but it does look like you need to have permit to fish there and you are probably assigned slots. They do look spaced out a little too evenly to be random!

Fly Fisherman on Yukawa River

... And more fly fishing...

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Travels: Sichuan Province Part 4, Jiuzhaigou National Park, China

Cotton-like plants are found all over Jiuzhaigou Park, with one of the colourful lakes forming the perfect backdrop
Jiuzhaigou is one of those places in china where it is said you can never miss and you have not been to a certain place if you have never seen it. It has definitely appeared many many times in pictures. First time I heard of it was a few years back when it was said it was very difficult to get to. I don’t know when they went or heard about it, but I see there are airports near the park, and there are official tourist buses going from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou with daily bus (yes, singular) and in the parks are roads going to all sights and mini buses plying the route. Surely not in accessible, but nevertheless, still a place not to be missed. We shall see if this is a boast or truth.

16 November 2008: Taking the 8 am bus to Jiuzhaigou from Chengdu’s Xinnanmen station. The bus station looks like a special station for tourist areas, but on the inside other than the metal detectors and xray machines, it looks like any other station. The buses look newer and the windows are fixed, so naturally I was afraid of the species known as the smoking chinese. But looks like the locals going to tourist places are a special type. During the whole trip, the guy in front of me had a half burnt cigarette in his fingers for hours but kept the urge to light it. In fact, no one smoked on this trip in the bus. Amazing show of patience. The only two things that irritated me were some passengers playing their songs on their mobile phone speakers and a guy eating process meat that smelled like coffee flavored chicken and a hint of chloroform. Smells nauseous. Overall, the trip was a lot nicer than the 12hrs bus to Xiaojing in part 2. Bearable.

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Travels: Senjogahara Plateau: Tochigi Prefecture, Japan

Mamiya RZ67 Pro II, 50mm f4.5 W, Fuji RXP, on the Senjogahara Plains


It is an early start. I’m here on the second weekend and I think I should be going back to complete Nikko, but to another direction, and another attraction… hiking in the highland marshes. This will be an ideal location to do some landscaping pictures. Of course it would be good if I was there when the sun is coming up, but no car and the first bus is later than that anyway, so got to file up the thoughts first.

Tobu-Nikko standard train (Ricoh GR Digital)

I’m not too sure there are metros running at this time of the morning, it’s 5am and I’m taking the Tokyo taxi instead, zipping past quiet streets, trying not to look at the ridiculously fast counter on the dashboard that shows the eventual 4000Yen price to get from Shinagawa to Asakusa by taxi. That’s almost the price of the all-in-one ticket to Nikko including the train fare! I’m on my way to Tobu-Asakusa Station to catch the first semi fast train to Nikko. Semi fast because the real first train stops everywhere and would take longer time to get to the destination so this is the second train it seems. Semi-fast too because if you double your fare you take the glamourously faster super-express-whatever trains that shave 20 mins off a 2hr 30mins journey. Not enough for me. I’ll stick to the cheap one.

Leica M3, 50mm f2 Summicron, Kodak 160NC, Early Morning Tokyo


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Travels: Nikko: Tochigi Prefecture, Japan

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Leica M2, Summicron 35mm f2 ASPH, Kodak 160NC: Tobu line Train to Tobu-Nikko

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Leica M2, Summicron 35mm f2 ASPH, Kodak 160NC: Spring Water Pool in Nikko Town

Its a scouting trip because I’m fed up with the weather. Its just too much. Cloudy and raining the whole weekend and I’m here expected to be hanging around all the time in Tokyo. Rain or no rain, I’m off to Nikko to have a look. The temples will be covered today, but what I will really scout are the wilderness and mountains this place offers. Next trip will be more specialized. However don’t think for once I’m going light!

In the backpack, a Mamiya RZ67 with 50mm lens, and 2 film backs. One loaded with Velvia 100 I don’t expect to use at all considering the weather, and a couple of Tri-X rolls. In the utility pack, Ricoh GR Digital and a Leica M2 with 35mm Summicron ASPH.

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Leica M2, Summicron 35mm f2 ASPH, Kodak 160NC: Forest in Nikko

Train to Nikko, or shall I say, the cheapest way to get to Nikko I can find is the Tobu line to Tobu-Nikko from Asakusa Tobu line station. Cost 1320yen. Taking the 7:10 train today. The 7:30 express train cost 1400yen extra because its more ‘express’. One thing to be really sure is that your train car actually reaches Tobu-Nikko. The last few I saw has different destinations, so my guess is along the way they drop cars so only the Tobu-Nikko train actually gets there. The train is oldish, but hey, it moves. Going to take a nap… Been a chore to get to Asakusa before 7 am.

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Leica M2, Summicron 35mm f2 ASPH, Kodak 160NC: Stream on the way to Jakko Waterfall

937hrs: And it has to happen. Just arrived at Nikko and the rain is coming down hard – for Japanese standards, that is. So hard it is probably stupid to walk anywhere in this rain. So its time for a morning katsudon and salad in a restaurant next to the station. Could be a nice weather to shoot b&w in. Although this place is not full of people today (likely because of the rain) its mostly elderly hikers at the station. Should have borrowed an umbrella on the way here! The buses plying the routes here are from the Tobu group and they look quite high class for a town bus! Too bad I have plans to take the bus today. Walk is good!

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