It had been a full day in Nikko. After wolfing down a late lunch of ramen I walked back toward the inn and just noticed little sights that aren’t in any tourist guide.
Was this a public art installation, or just a manhole access point?
In addition to the public gardens all over Japan, there were many individuals who kept stunning gardens I caught glimpses of them here and there.
Even front doorways were miniature botanical compositions.
These were growing wild. If I tried to grow them on purpose I bet they wouldn’t take.
There were tiny shrines, too. This one was dedicated to local laborers, I think.
I followed a sign into the woods and found a memorial dedicated to electrical plant workers. It was too dark in the woods to take a photo, and it was not very exciting.
I didn’t know whether to think this sign, “Buddist Only,” (sic) was rude or within their rights. How would they know if someone wasn’t buddhist, anyway? Some tourist must have done something really obnoxious for them to have posted this.
There were signs around Nikko about a Frenchwoman who had disappeared in the area some months ago. I learned later that she had epilepsy. I wondered if she had wandered into some of the dark deserted places I’d been, and had a seizure. I was glad I hadn’t stumbled upon her body at the memorial to electrical plant workers.
I had dinner in a Chinese restaurant that had come highly recommended by the hostess at the Turtle Inn. Japan is like anywhere else. It has its native foods and then a zillion restaurants featuring other nations’ fare that is enjoyed by the natives. The Japanese seem to like Chinese, Korean, Italian, and French food. In fact according to my sister-in-law, many Japanese like to fly over to Korea for weekends to eat “tasty Korean food.”
I have only tried Korean food a few times, and I was not a fan. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like every time I order Chinese, it consists of gristly meat sprinkled with a few anemic vegetables and smothered in a gooey sauce. A lot of people are obsessed with Chinese dumplings. I also just don’t think they’re very exciting. And they usually contain pork, which I don’t eat.
I walked to where the restaurant was supposed to be, and noticed—not for the first time—how hard it was to tell know if a building was a restaurant. The place appeared shut. There were curtains over the door, which I had seen in Japanese restaurants in the US.
It was impossible to see what was behind them without crouching down on my knees or creepily staring through them, so I walked in and—it was indeed a restaurant. I ordered a chicken dish which seemed to contain every part of the chicken except meat—raw skin, yellow fat, white tendons, maybe a sphincter—all ground up together. Maybe this was a delicacy to some people. I picked at it, then smiled and bowed and paid and left. I had not come to Japan to eat Chinese food, so next time I would not feel obligated to follow the recommendation.
Back at the inn, I spent some hours catching up on work and personal business and sat in the onsen twice. My Restless Legs was now off the charts; maybe soaking in hot water would help? Nope. It was as if the RLS demons had caught up with me and were tormenting me for trying to flee.
But hey, I can sleep when I’m dead. I wasn’t going to let stupefying exhaustion stop me from getting out there.
The next morning I would go to Lake Chuzenji by bus—a trip within a trip within a trip.
My son got married on Sunday! There was a stunning venue, perfect weather, and a beautiful couple. The officiant had his power invested in him by Ho Chunk Casino. There was a memorial to Vince’s friend who died a few weeks ago. I walked Vince down the aisle then said quietly, “That could have been you.”
“I know,” he replied.