This is the second part of my 3-Day solo backpacking trip to Nikko and Kawaguchiko using the Unlimited JR Kanto Pass.
The sun was already beaming brightly through the window by the time that I woke up. It was my last day in Nikko and I was excited, but a bit sad to leave. I prepared and packed my items so that I would be ready to check out when I returned. I was so eager to get going that I didn’t even eat breakfast before heading out to my last stop in Nikko, the Kanmangafuchi Abyss – a popular tourist spot where the famous Bake Jizo statues can be seen.
Downstairs I found the hostel door locked, forcing me to wake up my host. I took the opportunity to ask how to get to Kanmangafuchi Abyss because I didn’t know. He showed me a map and told me to follow the Daiya River to where the Sacred Bridge of Shinkyo crosses.
The day was bright and sunny when I left the hostel, but it began to drizzle during my walkathon. Kanmangafuchi Abyss was a 15-minute walk and the directions I had been given by my host made for an easy path to follow. Upon arriving, I was the only person there. Before visiting, I had not realized that the Jizo statues were in the middle of the forest near the river that was formed from the eruption of Mt. Nantai like Lake Chuzenji.
It was an eerie scene as I walked alone through the trees following the line of small stone statues with red caps on their heads and red cloth tied around their necks. At one time there were over 100 Jizo statues, but some washed away during a flood in 1902 leaving only about 70 left. As I walked, I considered the legend of the Bake Jizos which states that the number of statues changes every time you count them. Knowing that ‘bake’ means ‘ghost’ in Japanese, I was far too scared to even try counting them as I walked lest I discover that the legend was true!
Being alone in this historic and spine-chilling place full of ghost legends and old stories, I had butterflies in my stomach and was actually nervous when I found a trail at the end of the first line of statues. I took a breath and steadied my nerves and let my curiosity drive me forward along the trail to see what I would find. There, I found more statues carefully lined up and a wider pathway to walk on. The river was louder here, and the sound combined with the open space turned my scary walk into something far more relaxing. I even stopped here and took a few photos of myself.
The place was beautiful and majestic with natural scenic beauty and a sense of mystery that clung to the statues like a fine mist. I stayed for nearly a half hour and wanted to go further and explore another trail I’d come across at the end of the second line of statues, but my growling stomach began to protest. Other visitors were beginning to arrive as well by then, so I decided to head back to the hostel and eat breakfast.
I reached the hostel around 10am, just in time to check out. I took several photos of the place before I left so that I could remember how hospitable and homey this artsy hostel was. I was hit with a feeling of regret that I had to leave this beautiful place. Nikko, with its towering mountains, lush forest, and powerful waterfalls, is absolutely gorgeous and delightfully quaint. It is an excellent destination for nature lovers like me.