The Kanto Plain is the proverbial calm before the storm. This region seems to be insulated from its southern counterparts, as their scenery is nothing like the roaring aura of Tokyo.
The diverse views, sparse population, and polite position of this region seem to echo the sentiment of its past natives.
In a land steeped in long traditions, this region appears to represent those traits like a badge of honor.
With that said, the plan for today is to explore the area around Chichibu. I stayed in this city last night and somebody at the hotel told me about their "34 temples" route.
Apparently, this city has a trail established for visitors to see every one of the 34 shrines found in the city.
Since this is my last day in the silent, sleepy outskirts of Tokyo, this activity seems like the ideal way to spend the day.
The route is a close walk from my hotel, so I'm going to give the DZed a well-needed day off.
As I begin to make my way through the pilgrimage route, I see familiar landmarks from the Toshogu Shrine.
Like the Shrine in Nikko, there are several animals, represented in the form of a wood carving. I'm still in awe at the raw craftsmanship that it must have taken to carve out such structures.
They're so detailed, yet so abundantly faded. These carvings are just a partially fossilized piece of these shrines that have stood the test of time.
Speaking of fossils, another popular attraction here in Chichbu is the "Paleo Express". It's a steam-powered train that can take visitors around the city, showcasing every unique landmark.
Because of the heavy dinosaur remains found in the area, the train was named in honor of its past residents.
I've chosen not to take a ride on the express, as I'll get plenty of opportunities to ride the railways in the cities.
Despite the number of shrines woven around this trail, many of them vary in size.
Because many were built throughout the different periods, the shrines represent different eras of time and how they played a role in building the city we see today.
Like I mentioned the other day, I'm just amazed at the amount of effort that they put into preserving old landmarks here.
It's a sign of respect that doesn't seem to be found in many cultures anymore. Out with the old, in the with new. Here, that's far from the truth.
Perhaps the coolest part of this pilgrimage is the backdrop. Nestled along the tree covered mountains, Chichibu has the best range of wilderness that I've seen in Japan.
Up to this point, everything I've seen has been either one type of terrain or another. Rarely have I seen a blending of terrain like I've seen here.
It's a sight that I ended up seeing for the majority of the day.
As the day comes to a close, I head back to my hotel and begin planning for my time in Tokyo. As you know, the city has over 26 subdivisions and countless things to see.
Quite frankly, I may need to spend a few weeks in Tokyo to get a real look at the city.
The cliche attractions will be seen, but the beauty of exploring any city is the gems that aren't advertised.
Tokyo is especially famous for it's back alley attractions (that are legal) and various side streets.
I'll be sure to have a keen eye and wander about the city, looking for those treasured spots.
Until then, I'm spending the rest of the night getting my things in order and re-stringing my guitar.
I'll do everything my power to deliver on my promise of songs for you, so tonight is the night to get another done.
I can't thank you enough for laying out these itineraries for me. Despite the convenience of searching anything online, it's hard to beat the advice of an experienced peer.
The guides that you have provided enabled me to see some of the best sights of the country, before I even reach the major cities!
I never would have come across such bucolic beauty, if it weren't for you.
I hope these entries are keeping you informed and entertained, as I always ponder if I'm doing this ernest form of communication justice.
As I get closer to the cities, I'm sure that my words will brighten like the constant neon lights Tokyo.
Speaking of which, I'm off to bed. Tomorrow, I start the next big leg in the trip and enter Japan's largest attraction.
See you soon!