This weekend I went to Nikko with my friends Evan and Satomi. Not only was this my first big trip out of Miyagi prefecture, but it was also my first trip on the Shinkansen (Japan's famous bullet train). It was pretty cool to be moving so fast, but because you accelerate so gradually, you don't really notice how quickly you're going. That is, of course, until you pass another Shinkansen going the other direction.
We spent 2 days and 3 nights in Nikko, spending one full day exploring Nikko's natural beauty and one day exploring its cultural heritage. Nature day involved pleasant walks through woods, strenuous mountain climbs, and scenic waterfall viewings (Nikko has more natural water running through it than any other place I've ever seen). We were hoping to catch the changing leaves, but because we were in the mountains we were, for the most part, too late. Nevertheless, Nikko does have a lot to offer in terms of the outdoors.
Of course, what Nikko is primarily know for are its temples and shrines. Arguably second only to Kyoto in regards to its concentration of religious landmarks, Nikko is teaming with beautiful architecture and points of cultural interest.
I don't have any pictures of the more famous landmarks such as Toshogu or Shinkyo (sacred bridge) because a) you can see them elsewhere, and b) I like these pictures better. Deal with it. But I think the pics will back me up when I say Nikko is a beautiful city that makes for a relaxing and interesting weekend.