The sun is going down and we’re power walking through the streets of unfamiliar Central Nikko to find something called The Kanmangafuchi Abyss before it’s too dark. This seems like a cheesy horror plot, race against the sun into the abyss. Shrine Girl’s map is pretty intuitive though and we’re making good time.
We follow the map south, zig-zagging through rural back streets until we find a road that seems to have a mini aqueduct system. Ok, Shrine Girl said to look for this road.
It’s pretty neat, beside the road there is water flowing through a stone drainage system open to the air like a little river. It is filling small stone bowls at the entrance to each driveway providing fresh water. The houses are small and cute, some well kept, others seem abandoned.
Further South of the stone cups we come to a bridge. Ok, the Abyss is close to the river, we must be getting close. It’s gonna be tight. Still, the sun setting against the fall colors and this brisk river, I’m gonna need a couple pics of that.
We cross the bridge and actually find signs directing us down to a path by the river for the abyss. We follow the path. It goes by a creepy quiet power plant. And then, of course, a graveyard. We find another sign that just has an arrow and says ‘Ominous Path’. Oh ok, thank-you, we should definitely go that way. At the back of the graveyard is another sign for the Kanman-ga-fuchi Abyss. Did we make it? Still a little bit of light left. Perfect for exploring a terrifying abyss behind a graveyard.
We go down the path and it gets close to the rushing Daiya River. Around a little bend and we find a number of stone statues facing the water. The statues have little red hats and bibs. I’m not sure if these are tombstones or what?
(They’re not, they are Jizo Statues. Jizo are revered as the Bodhisattva who care for travelers and lost souls. They are also the guardian of children. A Bodhisattva is a Buddhist figure able to reach nirvana but delays doing so through the compassion they feel for suffering beings. In this case, I think the ‘Ghost Jizo’, or ‘100 Jizo’, as these ones have been nicknamed, are caring for the deceased. A graveyard, an Abyss… maybe)
This Ghost Jizo scored some specs and change
It certainly makes for a spooky atmosphere being the only ones down here walking by a bunch of these statues at twilight. There are a lot of them too. Queenie tells me she read that if you try to count them you’ll never get the same number twice as some will mysteriously be removed. Apparently, there are roughly 70 of them.
Not sure why the area is called the Abyss either. It looks like the river was formed from lava flow. It’s definitely a tranquil spot on this leave-strewn rock path with it’s spiritual guardians and running water. We sit in a little gazebo for a second and take it in. The rocks along the river are smooth and black.
Hmmmm there’s a split in the path. We should probably stay by the Abyss. Man, look at all these Ghost Jizo! We walk passed them all and try to get a count. 69? No way
We keep trucking, hoping to see signs of why this might be called The Abyss. A little further and we’re coming out the other side though where there is another entrance from the road. Hmmmmm. Well it’s faster to go back the way we came, so in the remaining light we speed boogie passed the Ghost Jizo again, trying to get out of The Abyss before dark.
On the way back I spot a whirlpool-like formation in the water below and go to check it out. I’m down on some slippery rocks and hear “Ohhh, be careful!” behind me. Ok, this is pretty cool though. The way the river hits the rocks here forms a large swirling vortex before it can exit down below. I slip and almost kill myself. I think I’ve found The Abyss!
I throw a rock in and it vanishes into the Aether. Definitely The Abyss.
Well that was super cool. We take our time back from the Abyss and through the graveyard in the dark (creepy), across the bridge and back to Central Nikko.
Just over the bridge is an abandoned car and house with good lighting
We stroll passed some locals going about their evenings in the houses and tea shops as we hoof it back along the river towards Shinkyo Bridge again. Peaceful spot up here in Nikko. What a nice reprieve from Tokyo insanity. We’ve been walking a lot and I can feel it in my legs and ankles (wear good shoes in Japan… a looooot of walking).
It’s been a while since we’ve eaten anything too. Hippari Dako seems like ages ago. We start scanning the buildings looking for something to nom. Finally we just decide to jump in any ol’ place. This’ll do.
I see some pizza on the menu. Maybe get the mixed pizza? I notice some of the pizzas have seafood on them (recap: I’m allergic) so I ask the server if there is fish or seafood. “No. Salami”. Sweet, yes please. So, of course the pizza comes out with shrimp and no salami. Queenie tries it out and says there’s squid too. Maybe the server thought I wanted all fish? Ah well.
I try the beef bowl but it has a fishy taste too. Queenie verifies. Well shit. When the server comes back I order up a side steak. Most sub par steak ever. Well, guess we’ll be hitting the izakaya next door to the hostel later. At least the beers are good.
I should have captioned this pic below with “This place suuuux!” Actually that’s probably not fair. We’re worn out and tired and dumb. It’s probably fine if you know what to get and how to get it.
We drag our legs back to the train station and check times. Got a little time to kill. The station looks nice at night. We hop the last train back. The seats are super hot! wtf? Almost too hot to sit on, I’m sweating all the way back.
Annnnnnd…. almost there. Just this bullet train back to the 2 subway lines to the hostel. The dude across from us on the shinkansen is in a blue, pin-stripped suit. He’s got a few empty beer cans on the go. Maybe he’s had a longer day than us. The guy in front has polished off a couple cans of highballs. He’s sitting with his groceries. This must be the norm. Get off work and have a few drinks on the bullet train home.
When we finally get back to Anne Hostel there are a handful of people getting tanked in the common area playing some sort of card game. Looks like we’re 10 beers away from fitting in. Pretty tired anyways and we’ve gotta do laundry and pack up all our shit. Sadly, we’re leaving Tokyo tomorrow.
I’ve packed less than a weeks worth of stuff on this trip so I might as well wash it all before moving on. Queenie and I try on the bird shirts we scored from the Kotori Bird Cafe yesterday (was that just yesterday??). They’re pretty great!
The hostel laundry closes in 10 minutes so we google up a 24 hour spot around the corner. Queenie goes on a laundry mission while I sit with no pants on in the room working on the blog.
When Queenie gets back she says people are really wasted in the lobby now. That’s good to hear. Some of the Anne Hostel reviews make it out to be an uptight, rules-ridden straight-jacket. Actually, I never did get to the roof top patio. Honestly, we were too busy in our few days here to really take in the party aspect of this hostel. Didn’t seem like there was any before tonight though. It has been a good spot, just a little removed from the fun (yes, we still miss Shinjuku. Always stay in the red light district. Is that a rule? Maybe that should be a rule).
This was supposed to be our ‘Chill Day’ but it sure seemed like we did a lot. Tomorrow we’re out of Tokyo and off to Lake Kawaguchiko. We’ve got a place booked with an amazing view of Mount Fuji from across the lake. Should make for some good pictures…