Today we visited Nikko, a small town a good few hours from Tokyo. We started out using the Shinkansen and then we hopped on a local train to get to the countryside of Japan. If you are recovering from having the flu or some serious cold, I can say it is probably not a good idea to take the train to Nikko: it screeches with every movement and its quite a bumpy ride. After a 40 minute ride which felt like a day while I was trying to suppress the feeling of getting sick again, we finally arrived at Nikko which was even the last station on the line.
The next morning was really really cold. Everything besides sleeping quarters is unheated so with temperatures around the freezing point it was a rude awakening (and getting up at 5:30 in the morning is a rough wake up – period). Somehow somebody managed to throw a pillow (filled with grains or something) through one of the paper walls – oops. But we were allowed to take part in the morning ceremony of the temple none the less. The high priest of the temple led the ceremony and afterwards we all got a divine blessing from him (perhaps I should have had him bless my teeth instead of the trip and flight) and we had breakfast. I ditched the misu soup and the rice and went for the fruit salad and tea (yes, shoot me). After a while some monk came in telling us that there was coffee: within seconds the eating hall was deserted.