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Autumn Colours in Nikko

Starting our Japanese adventure in the depths of winter, we have been fortunate to be able to appreciate the metamorphosis that happens with each new season. The trees of Tokyo were devoid of foliage when we arrived, then we experienced the gentle blossoming of spring, enjoyed their protective shade during the intense heat of summer, and now their red and gold tones brighten the short autumn days.

Autumn in Japan provides a welcome chance to be outside and reconnect with nature after the oppressive heat of summer. Nikko is a popular weekend getaway from Tokyo, just two hours by train, and at 700m above sea level the cooler weather and colours arrive a little earlier than the city. The bridge you can see in the photographs below is part of a large shrine complex, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, but this felt a little too similar to our last adventure in Kyoto only a few weeks earlier.

This was a short and leisurely trip so there were a few attractions that we skipped this time and plan to return to do next time, including Lake Chuzenji and the miniature world of Tobu World Square. The weather was colder than expected so we enjoyed warming up with excellent coffee at Standard Bakers and Meguri Coffee. Vegan pancakes in charming surroundings at the latter were a culinary highlight of the trip.

Our return to Tokyo was on the luxury SpaciaX train. This has five different types of seat, the picture in the gallery below shows the “lounge car”, which serves excellent coffee, as well as craft beer. However, unless you have reserved seats in the lounge carriage, there is (bizarrely) no at-seat service for the rest of the train and the buffet is so over-subscribed that you need to use your smartphone to reserve a time-slot during a short window at the start of the journey!