I know that the eventual goal is to find the cherry blossoms out here, but I was pretty sure that this would have to wait until I made it to Tokyo. I thought that I was up too high in elevation for these trees to be able to survive and show the pink explosion that I have heard so much about. But I have found a couple of them as they try to compete with their siblings down in the big city, but it was still not the time for them to come out like advertised. And yesterday, I went further up the mountains of Japan making sure that I would not see them at all.
One of the things I recommend getting if you ever come out to Nikko, Japan is the bus pass for the area. It allows you to have unlimited rides on the bus through town, and will even take you up a very windy mountain road to the mountain town of Chuzenji. This town sits on the banks of a mountain lake, and has many hiking paths in the area that can take you to many exciting and beautiful spots. I imagine that during the summer months, and the fall, the place is packed with people, enjoying the mountain air, and playing on the lake. The trees up here make it look like the perfect place to be when the leaves change color, but in the spring, there are not many people here. The town knows this, and most of the shops and restaurants close up for the mud season.
Even all of the docks were blocked off, preventing people from going out on to them, and all off the paddle boats shaped like swans were loaded up on the shore, and locked up until warmer times would come. Despite the lack of people, I think that this might have been the best time to come. I did not have to fight crowds to enjoy the scenery, and without the noise that comes with vacationers packing the shore, it gave me a quiet respite that allowed me to just enjoy the day for what it had to offer.
Even the biggest attraction out there, Kegon Falls, did not feel overcrowded. This 100 meter waterfall brings many people to take pictures. There are some nice viewing places on top, but to get the best views, I needed to take an elevator through 100 meters of mountain to get to the bottom of the falls. There were a few people who took the bus up to this spot today, but not nearly as much as there could have been. I had no trouble finding a spot on the rail to take some pictures and enjoy the beauty of the scene. Granted I have seen pictures of this place in autumn and I can see why the crowds come out for it, but I really enjoyed the time I was able to spend there without them.
I know enough about the mud season by growing up in Colorado, and seeing the mountain towns empty during those times of the year when the tourists just do not want to come, but I think that these can be the best time to enjoy places. I got to see something truly spectacular, and I felt like I was the only one that got to see it. I know in reality that is not true; that many people come to this place to take in its beauty, but I still will hold on to that feeling because it has made this trip one of my favorite ones so far. It is still about the sights, but this time, it is mine to enjoy the way I see fit.