Remote Tochigi Prefecture, Japan Published on: 13-11-2015

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Nikko is a town at the entrance to Nikko National Park, most famous for Toshogu, Japan's most lavishly decorated shrine and the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate.

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Why Nikko is special ?

Nikko had been a center of Shinto and Buddhist mountain worship for many centuries before Toshogu was built in the 1600s, and Nikko National Park continues to offer scenic, mountainous landscapes, lakes, waterfalls, hot springs, wild monkeys and hiking trails.

Nikko lies at the foot of Mt. Nyoho in the western part of Tochigi, and it is known as the home of the Futarasan Shrine, the Toshogu Shrine and Rinno-ji Temple. It is also home to the Nikko-suginamiki-kaido (Cedar Avenue of Nikko) which has been designated as a natural monument, and it is included as part of the Nikko National Park.


What to explore at Nikko?

Nikko and the Okunikko area around Lake Chuzenji, in particular, are well known for their beautiful autumn colors (koyo). In the average year the colors start descending from the higher elevations of Yumoto Onsen in early October, are best around Lake Chuzenji and the Irohazaka road in mid to late October and reach the town of Nikko in the first half of November.


How to get to Nikko?


From Tokyo, Nikko is accessible via the Tobu-Nikko Line (aka Tobu Skytree Line) from Asakusa station. The tokkyu (Limited Express train) takes 1 hour 50 mins, and the kaisoku (Rapid) takes 2 hours.

There are buses from Nikko Station to Shinkyo Bridge, though the distance can be covered in around 15 minutes on foot.

IMPORTANT: Check beforehand with the station staff whether or not you need to change trains at Imaichi. Asking this question could save you hours.

To ask in Japanese: Imaichi (EE-MY-CHEE) de norikae no hitsuyo ga arimaska? or, better still, go here to print the question out in Japanese (as an image file, so doesn't require Japanese font capability) and simply show the printed question to the station staff.

For JR Rail Pass holders, an alternative route is by shinkansen (bullet train) to Utsunomiya (50 mins) and then a local JR train to Nikko (45 mins).

Nikko-Kinugawa Pass

Available from Tokyo Asakasa station - this 2-day pass includes train travel (though not the Express surcharge) to Nikko, bus travel between Nikko, Chuzenji Lake, Kinugawa onsen and Yumoto onsen, as well as boats and cable cars in these areas.

Access to Nikko from Nikko Station

From the Tobu line Nikko station to the Nikko temple and shrines (known as the "Nikko San'nai" area), it is a 5-minute bus or taxi ride, or a 20-minute walk. The bus station is right in front of the train station, and the road up to Nikko San'nai is the road visible beyond the bus station.


Selling points

  • An ancient town
  • Historical and cultural place
  • Full of history
  • A break from busy Tokyo
  • Elegant town at night
9 day self-drive trip in Tokyo for family with kids

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9.0 days
1,379.63 USD
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Number of places
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Tochigi Prefecture, Japan

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Tips for you

  • Don't forget to bring camera, sun protection cream in case of hot days.
    What to bring
  • You can spend about 3 hours or even a day in this town depends on what you want to explore.
  • You need to purchase a 1,300 yen set of tickets allowing entry to Toshogu, Yakushido, Futarasan, and Rinnoji at the green-roofed office at the right of the entrance to Toshogu. (Not available at the Nikko Tourist Office.)
    Ticket and Pricing
  • It's better to bring Japanese map because not many Japanese people understand English.

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