A few years ago I was in Japan for a conference, and tagged on some extra days to explore a bit more of the country together with my sister. We mostly stayed in and around Tokyo, but we took a two-day trip to Nikko, further inland. Nikko is a small town with a beautiful heritage site, with lots of temples, and a famous wood carving of the original “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” monkeys.
Close to Nikko, just a 20-minute bus ride away, is a waterfall that all the guidebooks recommended, so we had to check it out. The waterfall is further uphill, at Lake Chuzenji – a lake formed after a volcanic eruption blocked off the river thousands of years ago.
Before we got on the bus, we became a bit worried by the fog we had seen creeping onto the mountain. Hoping that it would clear eventually, and with no further days left in Nikko, we decided to risk it and journeyed to Lake Chuzenji.
The further we travelled up the mountain, the thicker the fog got.
Once we got out of the bus at the top, we walked toward the waterfall, barely seeing more than about twenty or thirty feet in front of us.
In the distance, we saw what looked like a… bear?
Coming closer, the bear stayed motionless next to a sign. It was a wooden statue.
The sign was for the Nikko Natural Science Museum, but we were aiming for the falls, so we didn’t stop at the museum.
Last week, more than two years after visiting the Lake Chuzenji area, I was looking at my photos again, and decided to look into this Natural Science Museum that the bear was trying to entice us to visit.