Exploring Misaki Port and Jogashima with the Misaki Maguro Pass

A little over an hour away from Tokyo, the town of Misaki and neighboring Jogashima Island offers an excellent day trip out of the city. For this trip, I highly recommend that you purchase the Misaki Maguro Pass, as we did for this trip.

Misakiko, a major tuna port, hosts a fish market similar to the likes of Tsukiji. Unfortunately, we decided to meet up an hour later, so we when we arrived to market at 9, the vendors were already packing up.
But there is still much to do around the area. We took a quick stroll around the Urari Seafood Market, which sold fresh fish to the public, as well as interesting treats such as tuna and red bean bun and tuna madelines, neither of which I was brave enough to try.

The Fish Market at Misaki Port
The Fish Market at Misaki Port
Urari fisherman's market
Urari fisherman’s market
Madelines with Tuna
Madelines with Tuna

From there, on our way to the Kainan Shrine, we took a quick stroll through the town shopping districts, Shitamachi Shotengai and Misaki Ginza, which had a retro charming atmosphere of the Showa period.

Luckily, the Kainan Shrine was hosting a Shichi-go-san ceremony, a coming of age celebration for children, so we were lucky enough to see Japanese children dressed in traditional kimono. The shrine is also home to an 800-year-old ginko tree.

Kainan Shrine
Kainan Shrine

Next, we took the bus towards Jogashima Island. One of the benefits of the Misaki Maguro Pass is that it includes unlimited transportation around the Misaki area. After exploring the shoreline for a bit, we had lunch at Shibuki-tei. The Misaki Maguro Pass includes a meal coupon at 21 different restaurants around the area, and often offers meal options as well. When we mentioned to our waitress that one of us couldn’t eat raw fish, she was very accommodating and brought out Tuna Katsu don. The rest of us had the option of Tuna sashimi don or a Tuna and squid combo don. Both came with an assortment of side dishes, as well as a jar of the restaurant’s specialty tuna miso, made only in Misaki.

Tuna and Squid sashimi don with yummy side dishes
Tuna and Squid sashimi don with yummy side dishes

After a hearty lunch, we decided to walk along the rocky beach towards the one of the main attractions, the Jogashima Lighthouse. About a 30 minutes walk away, the Uma-no Sedomon, the famous rock arch formation is another popular attraction. Jogashima offered spectacular sights. When the sky is clear, you have a great view of Mount Fuji.

Exploring the shore of Jogashima
Exploring the shore of Jogashima
Uma no Sedomon rock formation
Uma no Sedomon rock formation

The Misaki Maguro pass also offers admission to a hot springs facility, the aquarium, or a glass boat ride.

We chose the aquarium, which was a bit small, but still enjoyable. The highlight of that excursion was seeing the sunset from an observatory.

Watching the dolphin show at the Aburatsubo aquarium
Watching the dolphin show at the Aburatsubo aquarium
Sunset and Mount Fuji
Sunset and Mount Fuji

By Erika Ozaki

 

Autumn Leaves at Nikko

Nikko is famous for its UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the lavishly-decorated Toshogu Shrine. Come autumn and Nikko is also a popular spot for viewing the beautiful autumn leaves. Thanks to Nikko’s geography (it’s spread over a mountainous region), it has one of the longest season for autumn leaves viewing in Kanto region. The season began in early October, starting from the Oku-nikko region in the mountains. Come November and visitors can enjoy the beautiful colours in the lower region of Nikko town.

Arriving at Nikko, to be greeted by the beautiful and vibrant autumn colours.
Arriving at Nikko, to be greeted by the beautiful and vibrant autumn colours.

Last weekend, we visited Nikko to see for ourselves, the glorious autumn colors. We bought the All Nikko Pass, which costs 4,520yen and includes

  • A round trip from Asakusa, Tokyo to Nikko on Tobu Railways,
  • Unlimited rides on buses in the area,
  • Discount to admission to some of the temples & shrines, and
  • Discount at some of the restaurants & shops.

It was a long journey, vying for seats on the 2-hour-odd train ride, standing on the bus on a back-breaking journey as it wound round and round the Irohazaka slopes, but it was well worth the journey.

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Train into Nikko
Took the bus to Akechidaira, which offers a beautiful view of the mountainous region. Too bad all the autumn leaves have already fallen.
Took the bus to Akechidaira, which offers a beautiful view of the mountainous region. Too bad all the autumn leaves have already fallen.
Although the leaves have fallen, the Kegon Falls is still as grand as ever.
Although the leaves have fallen, the Kegon Falls is still as grand as ever.
Everybody say CHEESE! (Oh, we tried to take a picture with the waterfall…)

As reported by the autumn-leaves forecast online (yes, there are forecasts for autumn leaves and also cherry blossoms, a very quintessentially Japanese thing!), the season has already ended in the upper regions of Oku-Nikko and we were greeted by brown and yellow leaves and bald trees. Despite the colours, we were able to see the impressive Kegon Waterfalls, and that was worth the trip up the mountains!

Lunch in a Yuba (tofu skin) restaurant.
Lunch in a Yuba (tofu skin) restaurant.
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Yuba-soba

Seeing that the weather was turning bad, we decided to have lunch in a local yuba restaurant. Yuba, tofu skin, is the local product in Nikko. Due to the large number of temples and monks visiting, the area is famous for vegetarian food and Yuba is one of the local’s delicacies!

Having filled our tummies, we caught the bus back towards Nikko town. We alighted near the Shinkyo Bridge, and made our way towards the famous Toshogu Shrine through a short but beautiful and quiet path in the “forest” (park?).

The famous Shinkyo Bridge at the entrance to Nikko's shrines and temples.
The famous Shinkyo Bridge at the entrance to Nikko’s shrines and temples.
Beautiful red leaves in the park
Beautiful red leaves in the park
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A dragon fountain near the entrance to the shrines and temples!
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Walking along the wide path towards Toshogu. It must be really beautiful during the peak autumn leaves season!
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A quiet path of stone lanterns next to Toshogu Shrine.

It was a shame we didn’t have more time to walk around the shrines and temples. Most of them have closed by the time we got there. However, we did not miss the thing we went to Nikko for!

At around 4pm, the gates of Shoyo-en, a Japanese garden near Toshogu Shrine,  were opened! It is the annual illumination even for the autumn leaves. Due to the arrangement in the garden, it is said that this is one of the best place in Nikko to appreciate the leaves! We were able to catch the scenery before and after sunset, each with its own beauty. In fact, it was so pretty that we had a hard time gathering everyone to leave the place!

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The purification fountain at the entrance of Shoyo-en
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The vibrant colours of the autumn leaves, brought out by the lighting in the garden.
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A beautiful Japanese garden, indeed!

Finally after a long day, we caught the last train back to Tokyo. I don’t think we have had enough of the autumn leaves, though. This is merely the beginning!