At about 2ish hours away from Tokyo, Nikko is the perfect day or overnight trip. Up in the forest, the air was a bit crisp and the snowy mountains were in view. Nikko has tons of shrines and quite possibly one of the coolest hostel owners ever (and I mean EVER!).
His name was Hiro.
Hiro single-handedly manages Nikkorisou Backpackers and is probably the coolest guy we met in all of Japan, and possibly in all of Asia. He gave us a ride to the store, to the train station, to the ATM and prepared a tabletop hotplate for us so we could cook our delicious Japanese beef and noodles in the common room at the hostel--teppanyaki-style!
Even though the hostel clearly states the common room closes at 11PM, Hiro (and quite a few other backpackers who had just returned back from the hot springs--which yes ofcourse Hiro gave them a free ride to) joined us to play Catchphrase for the entire night.
Then, halfway through the game, Hiro offered to take my friend Ross to the liquor store in the next town to get more sake and Asahi.
We really enjoyed Nikko...but we loved Hiro and his hostel!
Sometimes people make the best experiences, don't you think?