I was so tired I didn't even shower last night, but after cleaning up and grabbing breakfast at The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho this morning, we headed to "old" Tokyo to check out the market and a few temples. Locals and tourists alike were flocking by the omikuji fortune station at one of the shrines, so we just had see what our luck might be. First you drop a 100 yen coin ($1 USD) in the donation box, and then you grab a tube full of engraved bamboo sticks and shake it around until one falls out. You match the message on your stick with a drawer containing your omikuji, but be warned -- they aren't all good ones. Most of the sticks had 2-3 characters on them, but mine had a simple cross it, and my drawer was at the very bottom. Uh oh.
"No. 10. BEST FORTUNE," my omikuji read. What! This was awesome. "Bad old things will turn into happiness. New hope appearing, you will get treasures. You can find hope on the cloud in the sky." I'd like to think that this will set the tone for our trip...
The drive to Nikko only took 3 hours with snack/pee breaks, and the rest stops along the way were so inviting, we could have easily added on an extra hour. You see, they might as well be mini shopping malls. Not only do they have restrooms, gas stations and vending machines, but they have restaurants inside. And fancy bakeries. And gift stores. When I walked out of one stop with a bag full of Japanese candy and an assortment of baked goods, I was blown away by all the leaves collecting on the sidewalk. From brilliant shades of red to the fact that some of the maple leaves were almost miniature in appearance, I had never seen fall colors like this before. The drive took us past hill after hill dotted with intense autumn foliage, and when we finally arrived at Kegon Falls, the wow-fest continued.
The 318-foot falls were stunning from the upper and lower observation decks, and we decided to take a cable car to the top of a nearby hill to see what the falls looked like with Lake Chujenzi behind them. The cable cars stopped running at 4:45pm, so if we wanted to shoot sunset up there, we'd have to walk back to the parking lot in the dark. It was a short trek and we had headlamps, so we weren't fazed, but we immediately panicked when we saw that the parking lot was being chained up -- and that our car was the only one left. Of course, we were watching all of this from the cable car observation deck, 1000 feet up the hill. We scrambled down the trail as fast as we could, and we breathed a huge sigh of relief upon realizing that the chain was not locked, but merely attached with a carabiner. A little bit of nature, a little bit of adrenaline and all kinds of new things to overwhelm me. Just how every adventure should begin.