Nikko Travel Guide: Things to Do, See and Eat traveling in Nikko, Japan

Welcome to Nikko, a serene and enchanting destination nestled in the mountains of Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. With its rich cultural heritage, breathtaking natural beauty, and magnificent UNESCO World Heritage sites, Nikko offers an unforgettable travel experience.

Located just a few hours away from Tokyo, Nikko is renowned for its historic shrines, temples, and stunning landscapes. It is home to the famous Toshogu Shrine, an elaborate complex adorned with intricate wood carvings and gold leaf. The mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, a powerful shogun, it is a masterpiece of architecture and craftsmanship.

Beyond the cultural treasures, Nikko’s natural wonders captivate visitors. The picturesque Lake Chuzenji, surrounded by mountains and forests, provides a tranquil retreat for nature enthusiasts. The Kegon Falls, cascading dramatically from a height of 97 meters, offers a breathtaking sight and is considered one of Japan’s most beautiful waterfalls.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Nikko offers hiking trails that meander through lush forests, revealing stunning vistas and hidden gems along the way. The Nikko National Park, encompassing the area, is a haven for those seeking serenity and a deep connection with nature.

Nikko’s charm extends to its charming streets lined with traditional ryokans (inns), shops selling local crafts and souvenirs, and delightful local cuisine. Indulge in regional specialties such as yuba (tofu skin), hot pot dishes, and local sake, while immersing yourself in the warm hospitality of the locals.

Whether you’re seeking cultural immersion, natural beauty, or a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, Nikko offers a perfect blend of ancient traditions and natural wonders. Discover the timeless allure of this historic town, and let Nikko’s serene ambiance and awe-inspiring sights captivate your heart and soul.

Nikko Travel Guide: Things to do in Nikko, Japan for visitors

Nikko City Guide: A Brief History Of Nikko, Japan

Nikko, located in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan, has a rich and fascinating history that dates back centuries. The area’s historical significance is deeply intertwined with the rise of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the influence of Buddhism and Shintoism. Here’s a brief history of Nikko for travelers:

  1. Early History: Nikko’s history can be traced back to ancient times when it served as a sacred site for mountain worship. The area was believed to be inhabited by spirits and was considered sacred by the indigenous Ainu people. It wasn’t until the 8th century that Buddhism began to take root in Nikko.
  2. Rise of the Tokugawa Shogunate: In the 17th century, Nikko gained prominence with the rise of the Tokugawa Shogunate. The first shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, chose Nikko as the final resting place for himself and his successors. The Toshogu Shrine was constructed as a mausoleum for Tokugawa Ieyasu and became the focal point of the area’s cultural and religious significance.
  3. Toshogu Shrine: The construction of the Toshogu Shrine began in 1617 and took several years to complete. The shrine complex, with its intricate architecture and elaborate wood carvings, reflects the power and grandeur of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Today, it stands as one of Japan’s most important cultural and historical landmarks and is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  4. Buddhism in Nikko: Alongside the influence of the Tokugawa Shogunate, Buddhism played a significant role in shaping Nikko’s history. The Rinno-ji Temple, founded in the 8th century, became a major Buddhist center in the region. It houses important Buddhist artifacts and sculptures, including the impressive three-headed, six-armed statue of the Buddhist deity Senju Kannon.
  5. Preservation and Restoration: Throughout its history, Nikko has undergone periods of restoration and preservation to maintain its cultural and historical significance. The Toshogu Shrine and other important structures have been meticulously preserved and restored over the centuries to ensure their original splendor remains intact.
  6. Tourism and Cultural Heritage: In the late 19th century, Nikko began to attract tourists from both Japan and abroad, drawn to its rich cultural heritage and natural beauty. Today, Nikko continues to be a popular destination for travelers seeking to explore its historical sites, scenic landscapes, and serene ambiance.

Visiting Nikko offers a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in Japan’s rich history, witness the architectural wonders of the Toshogu Shrine, and appreciate the deep spiritual traditions that have shaped the region. Exploring Nikko’s historical sites provides a deeper understanding of Japan’s cultural heritage and offers a memorable journey through time.

Nikko serpentine road windy on the mountain in Japan

Nikko Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in Japan

Need a break from the big cities of Central Japan? Nikko is the cure for what ails you, as its position in the mountains which run up the middle of Honshu like a spine ensures that nature is firmly in control here.

There are some temples, but its lakes, waterfalls, and hiking opportunities are the star attractions here.

Come check out our Nikko travel guide as we cover the best things to do in Nikko, Japan.

While much of the Nikko area is attractive to travellers for the nature it offers, there are a number of cultural landmarks worth seeing. The foremost of these is the Toshogu Shrine, as it is a mausoleum which serves as the final resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of one of Japan’s greatest Shogun dynasties.

Ruling over the whole of Japan for 250 years up until the Meiji Restoration, the normal simplicity of Shinto shrines was disregarded in a bid to show respect to one of Japanese history’s greatest leaders. To that end, you’ll find plenty of gold leaf, numerous sculptures, and a level of elaborate design you simply won’t find in other shrines around Japan.

Another thing that sets this Shinto shrine apart from the others: the integration of Buddhist themes into its decor. Before the Meiji Period, this was common, but once the Restoration arrived, Buddhist elements were stripped out of most shrines across Japan.

This one was the exception, as removing this aspect from a temple designed to pay homage to an influential leader respected by the Japanese people could have sparked an uproar. Thus, its setup was left untouched, which is how it remains to this day.

There are many aspects of nature in Nikko National Park that are worth seeing, but personally, we have a soft spot in our hearts for the Kegon Waterfall. Dropping more than 100 metres into a spectacular gorge, it is ranked by many local travel publications as one of the top three waterfalls in the entire country in terms of beauty.

Providing the only outlet for Lake Chuzenji, this awesome sight is impressive enough from the free observation platform. However, if you are willing to pony up a little extra dough, you’ll be able to access an elevator-serviced platform that offers views so close that you’ll feel the mist from where it impacts the water.

Lake Chuzenji is impressive enough in its own right; after all, it has a volcano at its base, boat tours ferry customers around this alpine gem, and two foreign embassies have villas on their shores. However, if you are looking for a place that offers a more relaxing vibe, we recommend heading up to Yunoko Lake instead.

Situated at a higher elevation than Lake Chuzenji, this body of water spawns a fast-flowing creek which ends in Ryuzu Waterfall, emptying into its lower counterpart. Here, instead of throngs of tourists, you have fishers casting their lines at the shores of a placid lake. Instead of tour boats, people in rowboats, canoes, and kayaks paddle peacefully on its surface.

Note that if you choose to join the locals, you’ll have to buy a licence on the spot. Anything you catch must be released – no fish are permitted to be taken from the lake. Not into paddling or fishing? No matter – there is a circuit trail that will take you around its quiet shores through a serene forest.

However, those looking for one of the best casual hiking experiences in Nikko National Park will want to ensure that a stroll through the Senjogahara Marshland is on their list of things to do. This walk is best done during the fall, as it is at this time when the marsh grasses turn a brilliant crimson colour, and the larch trees a radiant gold.

With clear sight lines to the mountains in the near distance, interpretive signs, and an Onsen close at hand for a post-trek hot soak, this is an experience that no hiker should turn down while there are visiting Nikko National Park.

Nikko incredible mountain views with spectacular autumn colours in Japan

Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Nikko, Japan

Travelling as a family in the Nikko area? Help your little ones learn the local culture in a kid-friendly way by spending part of your day at Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura. Not only will you get to see how people lived during the Edo Period, you’ll get to learn about the way of the Samurai and of the Ninja through live shows.

These include everything from song & dance to the throwing of shurikens, so don’t miss it.

See how the Imperial Family spent their summers by touring the Tamozawa Imperial Villa. Boasting Edo and Meiji Period architectural touches, it currently has 106 rooms and is only one-third of its original size, but it is still one of the largest surviving wooden buildings left in Japan.

Looking for more impressive waterfalls after taking in Kegon’s glory? Include Yudaki Falls in your plans as well. While the cataract which drains Lake Yunoko is not as dramatic as the one that empties Lake Chuzenji, its more intimate nature and approachability (for free) will make it a hit nonetheless.

source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube

Top 33 Things To Do in Nikko, Japan For Visitors

Here are 33 top things to do in Nikko to make the most of your visit:

  1. Explore the magnificent Toshogu Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the final resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, featuring elaborate wood carvings, vibrant colors, and beautiful pagodas.
  2. Admire the intricate wood carvings and vibrant colors of the Yomeimon Gate, the main entrance to the Toshogu Shrine, known as one of Japan’s most intricate and decorative gates.
  3. Visit the Rinno-ji Temple complex, consisting of several historic Buddhist temples, including the impressive Sanbutsudo Hall, home to large bronze statues of Amida, Senju-Kannon, and Bato-Kannon.
  4. Discover the awe-inspiring beauty of Kegon Falls, one of Japan’s most famous waterfalls. Take an elevator down to the observation deck for a close-up view of the cascading waters.
  5. Take a boat ride on Lake Chuzenji, a picturesque lake surrounded by mountains, and enjoy the serene natural surroundings while taking in the fresh mountain air.
  6. Ride the scenic Akechidaira Ropeway to get panoramic views of Lake Chuzenji, the Kegon Falls, and the surrounding mountains. The observation deck at the top offers breathtaking vistas.
  7. Explore the stunning landscapes of Nikko National Park by hiking its many trails, such as the Senjogahara Marshland Trail or the Hangetsuyama Loop Trail, offering picturesque vistas of forests, mountains, and waterfalls.
  8. Visit the Kanmangafuchi Abyss, a gorge with a riverside walkway lined with over 70 stone Jizo statues. Enjoy the serene atmosphere and the sound of the flowing river.
  9. Experience the tranquility of Taiyuinbyo, a mausoleum dedicated to the third Tokugawa shogun, Iemitsu. Admire the intricate architecture, beautiful gardens, and tranquil atmosphere.
  10. Discover the historical significance of Futarasan Shrine, dedicated to the three sacred mountains of Nikko: Mount Nantai, Mount Nyoho, and Mount Taro. Experience the serene Shinto atmosphere and admire the colorful architecture.
  11. Visit the Nikko Woodcarving Center and witness the intricate craftsmanship of local artisans. Learn about the traditional art of wood carving and shop for unique wooden crafts and souvenirs.
  12. Take a relaxing dip in the natural hot springs (onsen) at one of Nikko’s traditional ryokan accommodations. Enjoy the therapeutic properties of the mineral-rich waters and experience traditional Japanese bathing culture.
  13. Explore the Chuzenji Temple, located on the shores of Lake Chuzenji. Admire its elegant architecture, serene surroundings, and the view of the lake.
  14. Marvel at the architectural beauty of the Shinkyo Sacred Bridge, a vibrant vermillion-colored bridge considered one of Japan’s three finest bridges. Take a leisurely stroll across this iconic symbol of Nikko.
  15. Visit the Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura, a historical theme park that recreates the atmosphere of the Edo period (1603-1868). Immerse yourself in the traditional culture, dress up in period costumes, and enjoy performances and interactive experiences.
  16. Enjoy the vibrant colors of the Nikko Botanical Garden, showcasing a diverse collection of plants and flowers, including cherry blossoms in spring and vibrant foliage in autumn.
  17. Take a leisurely walk along the picturesque Cedar Avenue (Nikko Suginamiki), lined with towering cedar trees that form an enchanting tunnel leading to the Toshogu Shrine.
  18. Visit the Nikko Art Museum to admire its collection of Buddhist statues, ceramics, and traditional art. The museum showcases the region’s rich artistic heritage and offers insight into Nikko’s cultural significance.
  1. Explore the Nikko Toshogu Museum of Art, housed within the Toshogu Shrine complex. This museum displays a fascinating collection of ancient Buddhist artifacts, cultural treasures, and historical artifacts associated with the Tokugawa shogunate.
  2. Discover the hidden beauty of the Ryuzu Waterfall, located in the Okunikko region. This stunning waterfall cascades over a rocky cliff, surrounded by lush greenery, creating a picturesque and serene atmosphere.
  3. Take a scenic drive along the Irohazaka Winding Road, a famous roadway with 48 hairpin turns that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and forests. The road is particularly beautiful during the autumn season when the foliage turns vibrant shades of red and gold.
  4. Enjoy skiing or snowboarding in the winter season at the Nikko Yumoto Ski Area. Nestled in the mountains, this ski resort offers a range of slopes suitable for all skill levels, along with beautiful snow-covered landscapes.
  5. Visit the Tobu World Square, a unique theme park that features miniature replicas of famous world landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, and the Great Wall of China. It’s an opportunity to experience global architecture in one place.
  6. Explore the Nikko Astronomical Observatory and marvel at the wonders of the night sky. Participate in stargazing events or guided observation sessions to learn about celestial bodies and enjoy the pristine skies of Nikko.
  7. Discover the history and art of sake production at a local sake brewery. Take a guided tour to learn about the brewing process, sample different types of sake, and gain insight into this beloved Japanese beverage.
  8. Experience a traditional tea ceremony in one of Nikko’s serene tea houses. Participate in the rituals of preparing and serving tea, and savor the flavors while embracing the tranquility and grace of this cultural practice.
  9. Participate in a calligraphy or pottery workshop to learn traditional Japanese arts. Under the guidance of skilled instructors, you can try your hand at brushwork or shaping clay, allowing you to create your own unique artistic piece.
  10. Attend a traditional Shinto ceremony or festival at one of the local shrines. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere, witness captivating performances, and experience the spiritual traditions of Japan.
  11. Enjoy a boat ride on the tranquil Kanmangafuchi Abyss River, offering a peaceful and scenic experience amidst the natural beauty of Nikko. Admire the surrounding cliffs and lush greenery as you float along the gentle waters.
  12. Taste local Nikko specialties such as yuba (tofu skin) dishes, oyaki (stuffed dumplings), and Nikko-style soba noodles. Indulge in the flavors of the region and sample the delicious and unique culinary offerings.
  13. Take a guided nature hike to explore the forests, waterfalls, and wildlife of Nikko National Park. Experience the serenity of nature, spot native flora and fauna, and breathe in the fresh mountain air.
  14. Capture the stunning autumn colors at locations like the Senjogahara Marshland, Lake Chuzenji, or along the hiking trails of Nikko National Park. Witness the vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow as the leaves transform during the fall season.
  15. Immerse yourself in the cultural festivities of Nikko by participating in seasonal events, such as the Nikko Toshogu Shrine Grand Spring Festival or the Yayoi Festival, which showcase traditional performances, parades, and lively celebrations.

These 33 top things to do in Nikko provide a diverse range of experiences that encompass the cultural, historical, and natural attractions of the region. Whether you’re exploring the grandeur of Toshogu Shrine, marveling at the beauty of waterfalls and lakes, indulging in local cuisine, or immersing yourself in traditional arts and ceremonies, Nikko promises a memorable journey filled with discovery and serenity.

As you embark on your Nikko adventure, take the time to soak in the spiritual atmosphere, appreciate the exquisite craftsmanship, and immerse yourself in the tranquility of the natural landscapes. Each experience will unveil a unique facet of Nikko’s cultural heritage and provide lasting memories of your visit to this enchanting destination in Japan.

Soba noodles are a must try dish for visitors to Nikko, Japan

What To Eat and Drink in Nikko, Japan

Nikko, known for its rich culinary traditions, offers a variety of delicious local dishes and beverages that showcase the region’s flavors and ingredients. Here are some must-try foods and drinks in Nikko:

  1. Yuba (Tofu Skin): Nikko is famous for its yuba, a delicacy made from the skin that forms on the surface of heated soy milk. Enjoy yuba in various forms, such as yuba sashimi, yuba rolls, or in hot pots.
  2. Nikko-style Soba: Savor a bowl of Nikko-style soba noodles, known for their unique texture and flavor. Made from buckwheat flour, these noodles are often served cold with a dipping sauce or in a hot broth with toppings like tempura or green onions.
  3. Oyaki: These stuffed dumplings are a local specialty of Nikko. Made from a dough of buckwheat or wheat flour, oyaki are typically filled with savory ingredients like vegetables, mushrooms, or red bean paste.
  4. Ashiyu Manju: These steamed buns filled with red bean paste are a popular treat in Nikko. They are usually shaped like a foot to pay homage to the hot springs (onsen) culture in the region.
  5. Nikko Beef: Indulge in the succulent flavors of Nikko beef, which is known for its high-quality marbling and tenderness. Whether in a steak, yakiniku (grilled meat), or sukiyaki (hot pot), Nikko beef promises a melt-in-your-mouth experience.
  6. Sansai: Nikko’s mountainous surroundings offer an abundance of wild edible plants known as sansai. Try dishes featuring these foraged vegetables, such as fiddlehead ferns, bamboo shoots, and wild mushrooms.
  7. Sake: Nikko boasts a long history of sake production, and it’s worth sampling the local brews. Visit a sake brewery to learn about the production process and enjoy tasting different types of sake, ranging from dry to sweet.
  8. Shochu: Another popular alcoholic beverage in Nikko is shochu, a distilled spirit typically made from barley, sweet potatoes, or rice. Enjoy it neat or mixed in cocktails.
  9. Local Fruit Products: Nikko’s fertile land produces delicious fruits, such as strawberries and blueberries. Look for fruit-related products like jams, jellies, and desserts, which make for delightful souvenirs.
  10. Green Tea: Nikko is known for its tea production, so take the opportunity to savor a cup of traditional Japanese green tea. Visit a tea house or enjoy a tea ceremony experience to fully appreciate the flavors and rituals of this cultural beverage.
  11. Yudofu: Nikko’s natural hot springs (onsen) make it an ideal place to try yudofu, a simple yet flavorful dish consisting of tofu simmered in a light broth. It’s a soothing and nourishing option, particularly during the colder months.
  12. Nabe (Hot Pot): Warm yourself up with a hearty nabe meal, a traditional Japanese hot pot. Nikko offers a variety of nabe options, such as shabu-shabu (thinly sliced meat and vegetables cooked in a boiling broth) or yosenabe (assorted ingredients cooked together in a flavorful broth).
  13. Sakura Namiki (Cherry Blossom Road) Confections: During the cherry blossom season, indulge in sakura-themed sweets and treats, such as sakura-flavored mochi, sakura cookies, or sakura-flavored soft-serve ice cream. These confections offer a delightful taste of spring in Nikko.
  14. Karinto: This popular Japanese snack is a sweet and crunchy deep-fried dough. Nikko is known for its karinto, which comes in various flavors like brown sugar, sesame, or matcha. Enjoy it as a snack while exploring the sights of Nikko.
  15. Miso-Nikomi Udon: Warm yourself up with a bowl of miso-nikomi udon, a regional specialty where thick udon noodles are cooked in a rich miso-based broth along with various toppings like green onions, mushrooms, and kamaboko (fish cake).
  16. Yuzu-Flavored Treats: Nikko is known for its yuzu citrus fruit, and you’ll find an array of yuzu-flavored treats such as yuzu jelly, yuzu sorbet, or yuzu-infused drinks. The refreshing and tangy flavor of yuzu adds a unique touch to these culinary delights.
  17. Nikko Mochi: Sample Nikko’s take on mochi, a traditional Japanese rice cake. Nikko mochi is often filled with sweet red bean paste and coated with soybean flour for added texture and flavor.
  18. Matcha (Green Tea) Desserts: Explore the world of matcha-infused desserts in Nikko. Indulge in matcha-flavored soft-serve ice cream, matcha cakes, or matcha parfaits, all showcasing the rich and earthy taste of Japanese green tea.
  19. Yakitori: For a flavorful and satisfying snack, try yakitori, skewered grilled chicken. You can find yakitori stalls or restaurants offering various cuts of chicken, including tender chicken thighs or succulent chicken wings, glazed with a savory sauce.
  20. Amazake: Warm yourself up with a cup of amazake, a sweet and creamy fermented rice drink. It’s often served hot and acts as a natural energy booster during colder months.

While exploring Nikko, keep an eye out for local restaurants, izakayas (Japanese pubs), and street food stalls that offer these delectable dishes and beverages. Indulging in Nikko’s culinary delights is not only a way to satisfy your taste buds but also a way to immerse yourself in the region’s vibrant food culture.

source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube

Top Restaurants In Nikko, Japan

When visiting Nikko, you’ll find a range of restaurants that offer delicious cuisine, from traditional Japanese dishes to international flavors. Here are some top restaurants in Nikko to consider:

  1. Komekichi: Known for its excellent sushi and sashimi, Komekichi is a popular choice for seafood lovers. The restaurant offers fresh, high-quality ingredients prepared with precision and served in a cozy atmosphere.
  2. Kamakura: Situated near Lake Chuzenji, Kamakura is a charming restaurant that specializes in traditional Japanese cuisine. Enjoy kaiseki (multi-course) meals featuring seasonal ingredients, including fresh seafood and mountain vegetables.
  3. Fujiya 1935: Housed in a historic building, Fujiya 1935 offers a fusion of Japanese and Western cuisine. With a focus on locally sourced ingredients, the menu includes dishes like wagyu beef, pasta, and creative desserts.
  4. Nikko Hanaichimonme: Located near the Toshogu Shrine, this restaurant serves up a variety of Nikko specialties, including yuba, soba noodles, and oyaki dumplings. Enjoy the cozy ambiance and savor the flavors of local dishes.
  5. Oku-Nikko Bakeshop & Cafe: If you’re looking for a quick bite or a sweet treat, Oku-Nikko Bakeshop & Cafe is a must-visit. Indulge in freshly baked bread, pastries, and cakes, along with a cup of aromatic coffee or tea.
  6. Marukyo: Offering a blend of Japanese and Western cuisine, Marukyo is a family-friendly restaurant known for its hearty dishes. Try their nikujaga (meat and potato stew), tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlet), or curry rice for a satisfying meal.
  7. Ramen Shingen: For ramen lovers, Ramen Shingen is a go-to spot. Enjoy a steaming bowl of flavorful ramen with various toppings, such as chashu (braised pork), bamboo shoots, and nori (seaweed).
  8. Taihei Restaurant: Taihei Restaurant offers a range of Japanese dishes, including tempura, sukiyaki, and shabu-shabu. The restaurant uses fresh, local ingredients and provides a cozy dining experience.
  9. Nikko Breakfast: Start your day with a hearty breakfast at Nikko Breakfast, known for its delicious morning meals. Choose from a variety of options, including traditional Japanese breakfast sets or Western-style dishes.
  10. Gyoza no Osho: If you’re in the mood for dumplings, head to Gyoza no Osho. This popular chain restaurant serves up tasty gyoza (pan-fried dumplings) alongside other Japanese and Chinese dishes.
  11. Ristorante La Table: For a taste of Italian cuisine in Nikko, Ristorante La Table is a recommended choice. Enjoy dishes like pasta, risotto, and wood-fired pizzas in a cozy setting.
  12. Nikko Craft Beer Brewery: Craft beer enthusiasts should visit Nikko Craft Beer Brewery to sample a variety of locally brewed beers. Pair your favorite brew with delicious snacks and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere.

These are just a few of the top restaurants in Nikko, offering a range of flavors and dining experiences. Remember to explore the local streets and follow your taste buds to discover hidden gems and culinary delights that will make your visit to Nikko even more memorable.

source: on YouTube

Tours For Visitors To Nikko, Japan

When visiting Nikko, there are several tours available that can enhance your experience and provide deeper insights into the region’s cultural and natural wonders. Here are some popular tours for visitors to Nikko:

  1. Nikko World Heritage Day Tour: Join a guided tour that takes you to the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Nikko, including Toshogu Shrine, Rinno-ji Temple, and the surrounding area. Learn about the historical significance of these landmarks and gain a deeper understanding of Nikko’s cultural heritage.
  2. Nikko National Park Nature Tour: Explore the stunning natural landscapes of Nikko National Park on a guided nature tour. Visit attractions such as Kegon Falls, Lake Chuzenji, and the Senjogahara Marshland while learning about the park’s flora, fauna, and geological formations.
  3. Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura Tour: Step back in time and experience the Edo period (1603-1868) at Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura. Take a guided tour of this historical theme park and immerse yourself in the recreated streets, samurai residences, and traditional performances.
  4. Cycling Tour of Nikko: Discover the beauty of Nikko on a cycling tour that takes you through scenic routes and lesser-known areas. Explore the countryside, visit local villages, and enjoy the tranquility of the natural surroundings while pedaling through the picturesque landscapes.
  5. Nikko Food and Sake Tour: Embark on a culinary journey through Nikko’s local flavors and traditional cuisine. Join a food and sake tour to visit local eateries, street food stalls, and sake breweries. Sample regional specialties and learn about the ingredients and techniques that make Nikko’s food culture unique.
  6. Nikko Samurai Experience: Immerse yourself in the world of the samurai with a guided tour that offers insights into samurai history, traditions, and martial arts. Participate in a sword-fighting demonstration, try on samurai armor, and learn the basics of wielding a katana.
  7. Nikko Photography Tour: Capture the beauty of Nikko with a guided photography tour led by a professional photographer. Explore scenic spots, learn composition techniques, and capture stunning images of Nikko’s landscapes, architecture, and cultural elements.
  8. Nikko Craft Workshop Tour: Engage in hands-on experiences and learn traditional Japanese crafts through a guided workshop tour. Try your hand at activities like pottery, calligraphy, or traditional paper-making, and create your own unique souvenir to take home.
  9. Nikko Night Tour: Discover the enchanting atmosphere of Nikko at night with a guided tour that explores the illuminated shrines, temples, and streets. Experience the tranquility and beauty of these landmarks under the nighttime glow, which adds a magical touch to the surroundings.
  10. Private Customized Tour: Opt for a private customized tour of Nikko, where you can tailor the itinerary according to your preferences and interests. Work with a local guide to create a personalized experience that highlights the aspects of Nikko that intrigue you the most.

These tours offer different perspectives and ways to explore Nikko, allowing you to make the most of your visit and create unforgettable memories of this captivating destination.

source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube

Nikko Accommodations Guide: Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels

When visiting Nikko, you’ll find a range of accommodations that cater to different budgets and preferences. From traditional ryokans to modern hotels, here’s a guide to help you choose the right accommodation in Nikko:

  1. Ryokans: For a truly authentic Japanese experience, consider staying in a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn. Ryokans offer comfortable tatami-matted rooms, futon bedding, and onsen (hot spring) baths. Some renowned ryokans in Nikko include Kanaya Hotel and Hoshino Resorts KAI Nikko.
  2. Onsen Ryokans: Nikko is known for its natural hot springs, so why not indulge in an onsen ryokan? These ryokans provide the perfect opportunity to relax and rejuvenate in soothing hot spring baths. Examples include Nikko Astraea Hotel and Hotel Shikisai.
  3. Hotels: Nikko offers a variety of hotels that cater to different budgets and preferences. From luxury hotels to mid-range options, you’ll find a range of amenities and services to suit your needs. Some popular choices include Nikko Station Hotel Classic, Nikko Kanaya Hotel, and Hotel Nikko Kanaya.
  4. Minshukus: Minshukus are family-run guesthouses that offer a more intimate and homely atmosphere. Staying in a minshuku allows you to experience Japanese hospitality and interact with the locals. Examples include Senhime Monogatari and Okunikko Park Lodge Miyama.
  5. Pension Lodges: Pension lodges provide a cozy and comfortable stay, often with a bed-and-breakfast setup. These accommodations offer a friendly ambiance and personalized service. Examples include Pension Fifty-One and Pension Friendly.
  6. Hostels and Guesthouses: If you’re looking for budget-friendly options or a more social atmosphere, consider staying in a hostel or guesthouse. These accommodations often offer dormitory-style rooms or private rooms at affordable prices. Examples include Nikko Park Lodge Tobu Station and Nikko Guesthouse Sumica.
  7. Vacation Rentals: For a more independent experience, vacation rentals are available in Nikko. Renting a private apartment or house allows you to have your own space and explore Nikko at your own pace. Websites like Airbnb offer a range of options.
  8. Temple Lodgings: Some temples in Nikko offer lodging facilities known as shukubo. Staying in a shukubo allows you to experience the tranquility of temple life and participate in morning meditation and ceremonies. Examples include Futarasan-Jinja Shrine and Nikko Toshogu Shrine.

When choosing your accommodation, consider factors such as location, proximity to attractions, amenities, and the type of experience you’re seeking. It’s advisable to book in advance, especially during peak seasons or festivals, to secure your preferred choice. Regardless of your choice, Nikko’s accommodations ensure a comfortable and memorable stay during your visit to this historical and scenic destination.

source: Life Where I’m From X on YouTube

Day Trips From Nikko, Japan

While Nikko offers a wealth of attractions and activities, there are also several enticing day trip options to explore the surrounding areas. Here are some recommended day trips from Nikko:

  1. Kinugawa Onsen: Located just a short distance from Nikko, Kinugawa Onsen is a hot spring resort area known for its relaxing baths and beautiful riverside scenery. Enjoy a soothing soak in the hot springs, visit theme parks like Tobu World Square or Edo Wonderland, or take a leisurely boat ride along the Kinugawa River.
  2. Nikko Edo Wonderland: Immerse yourself in the Edo period (1603-1868) at Nikko Edo Wonderland, a historical theme park. Experience the ambiance of a traditional Japanese town with samurai residences, period costumes, live performances, and interactive activities that showcase the culture and traditions of the Edo era.
  3. Echigo-Yuzawa: If you’re visiting Nikko during the winter months, consider a day trip to Echigo-Yuzawa, a renowned ski and snowboarding destination. Enjoy the slopes of popular ski resorts like Gala Yuzawa or Naeba, and take advantage of the hot springs (onsen) to relax and unwind after a day on the mountains.
  4. Ashikaga Flower Park: Famous for its stunning wisteria displays, Ashikaga Flower Park is a botanical garden located in Tochigi Prefecture, near Nikko. Visit during the wisteria season (usually from late April to mid-May) to witness the enchanting cascades of vibrant flowers in various colors and shapes.
  5. Oya History Museum: Explore the Oya History Museum, located in Utsunomiya City. This unique museum is housed in an abandoned stone quarry, showcasing the history of stone mining and the local culture. Admire the massive underground chambers and learn about the significance of stone in the region.
  6. Chuzenji Lake and Oku-Nikko Area: Take a trip to the Oku-Nikko area, home to the stunning Chuzenji Lake. Enjoy the serene beauty of the lake, visit the Kegon Falls, and explore the natural wonders of the surrounding national park, including hiking trails and scenic viewpoints.
  7. Tochigi City: Visit the capital city of Tochigi Prefecture, known for its traditional architecture and rich history. Explore attractions like Tochigi Castle Ruins Park, where you can see the remnants of the Edo-era castle, or visit the Tochigi City Museum to learn about the local culture and heritage.
  8. Nikko Tamozawa Imperial Villa Memorial Park: Discover the historical Nikko Tamozawa Imperial Villa, a former summer residence of the Imperial Family. Explore the beautiful gardens, traditional architecture, and exhibits that provide insight into the villa’s history and significance.
  9. Nikko Toshogu Shrine: While Toshogu Shrine is a must-visit destination in Nikko itself, consider taking a day trip to explore the surrounding areas of the shrine. Explore the peaceful forest trails, visit nearby shrines and temples, and take in the serene atmosphere of this sacred site.
  10. Lake Chuzenji: Spend a day exploring the scenic Lake Chuzenji, located in the Oku-Nikko area. Take a boat ride on the lake, hike the surrounding trails, and enjoy the picturesque views of the mountains and forests. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Kegon Falls, a stunning waterfall that cascades into the lake.
  11. Oze National Park: If you’re a nature enthusiast, consider a day trip to Oze National Park, which is known for its pristine wetlands, marshes, and alpine landscapes. Explore the hiking trails, admire the vibrant flora and fauna, and enjoy the tranquility of this beautiful natural reserve.
  12. Nikko Suginamiki: Take a leisurely stroll along Nikko Suginamiki, also known as Cedar Avenue. This scenic walking path is lined with towering cedar trees, creating a tranquil and picturesque atmosphere. Enjoy the fresh air, appreciate the natural beauty, and visit nearby temples and shrines along the way.
  13. Mashiko Pottery Town: Head to Mashiko, a town famous for its pottery tradition located southwest of Nikko. Explore the numerous pottery studios and shops, and even try your hand at creating your own pottery masterpiece during a hands-on workshop. Take home unique pottery pieces as souvenirs.
  14. Nasu Highland Park: Escape to Nasu Highland Park, a theme park located in the nearby Nasu region. Enjoy thrilling rides, explore the expansive gardens, and visit attractions like the Nasu Animal Kingdom and the Nasu Teddy Bear Museum.
  15. Oya-ji Temple: Venture to Oya-ji Temple, known for its fascinating stone-carved statues and underground tunnels. Explore the temple grounds, admire the intricate stone sculptures, and delve into the mysterious underground passages carved into the rock.
  16. Edo Kiriko Glassware Experience: Visit a local glass studio in Nikko or neighboring towns to experience Edo Kiriko, a traditional glass-cutting technique. Learn about the craft, watch skilled artisans at work, and try your hand at creating your own unique Edo Kiriko glassware.
  17. Shinkyo Sacred Bridge: Take a short trip to the Shinkyo Sacred Bridge, located just outside of Nikko. Admire the architectural beauty of this vermillion-colored bridge, which is considered one of Japan’s three finest bridges. Capture stunning photographs and soak in the serene atmosphere.
  18. Utsunomiya: Explore the city of Utsunomiya, known for its gyoza (dumplings) and vibrant city life. Discover the bustling streets, visit local shrines, and indulge in a gyoza feast at one of the many renowned gyoza restaurants.

These day trips from Nikko offer diverse experiences, from historical sites and natural wonders to cultural attractions and outdoor activities. Plan your itinerary accordingly and make the most of your time in Nikko by exploring the surrounding areas and expanding your travel horizons.

source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube

Nikko Transportation Guide

Getting around Nikko and its surrounding areas is relatively easy thanks to a well-connected transportation system. Here’s a transportation guide to help you navigate Nikko:

  1. Train: The Tobu Nikko Line connects Tokyo’s Asakusa Station to Tobu Nikko Station, which is the gateway to Nikko. Trains on this line run frequently throughout the day, and the journey takes approximately two hours. From Tobu Nikko Station, you can easily access popular attractions by local buses or on foot.
  2. Shinkansen (Bullet Train): If you’re coming from other parts of Japan, you can take the Tohoku Shinkansen to Utsunomiya Station and then transfer to the Tobu Nikko Line. The shinkansen provides a faster option, reducing travel time from major cities like Tokyo and Sendai.
  3. Buses: Nikko’s local bus network is an efficient way to travel within the city and reach various attractions. The buses operate regularly, and route information is available at the bus station or online. Consider purchasing a Nikko All Area Pass, which offers unlimited bus travel within Nikko for a specified period.
  4. Taxi: Taxis are available throughout Nikko, and they can be a convenient option for reaching specific destinations or for more flexible travel. Taxis can be found at taxi stands, near major train stations, or hailed on the street.
  5. Rental Cars: Renting a car gives you the freedom to explore Nikko and its surrounding areas at your own pace. Rental car agencies are available in Nikko and nearby cities. Keep in mind that parking may be limited or expensive in some areas, so plan accordingly.
  6. Walking: Many of Nikko’s attractions, such as Toshogu Shrine and Rinno-ji Temple, are within walking distance of each other in the central area. Exploring on foot allows you to enjoy the scenic beauty and discover hidden gems along the way.
  7. Bicycle Rental: Renting a bicycle is a popular option for exploring Nikko and its surrounding areas, especially during the warmer months. Bicycle rental shops are available near major attractions, and cycling allows you to enjoy the beautiful landscapes and reach destinations at your own pace.
  8. Day Tours: Joining guided day tours can be a convenient way to explore Nikko and its surroundings. These tours often include transportation to major attractions, providing a hassle-free experience and informative commentary from a knowledgeable guide.
  9. Limited Express SPACIA: If you prefer a more comfortable and direct journey from Tokyo to Nikko, you can opt for the Limited Express SPACIA. This premium train service offers reserved seating, onboard amenities, and a faster travel time of approximately 100 minutes from Asakusa Station to Tobu Nikko Station.
  10. Nikko City Loop Bus: Within Nikko, the Nikko City Loop Bus is a convenient way to explore the city’s main attractions. The bus operates in a loop and stops at key sites, including Toshogu Shrine, Rinno-ji Temple, and Kanmangafuchi Abyss. A day pass for the loop bus allows for unlimited rides and easy access to the major landmarks.
  11. Lake Chuzenji Sightseeing Buses: If you plan to visit Lake Chuzenji and the surrounding area, take advantage of the Lake Chuzenji Sightseeing Buses. These buses connect Nikko Station to Lake Chuzenji, stopping at attractions such as Kegon Falls and Chuzenji Temple. The buses run seasonally, offering scenic views along the route.
  12. JR Nikko Station: While Tobu Nikko Station is the main station for accessing Nikko, JR Nikko Station is another option for those with a Japan Rail Pass or traveling from other parts of Japan using the JR lines. JR Nikko Station is a short walk from Tobu Nikko Station, making it convenient for transfers.
  13. Nikko Free Pass: Consider purchasing a Nikko Free Pass, which offers unlimited travel on designated buses, trains, and boats within the Nikko area, including access to popular attractions. The pass also provides discounts on admission fees to certain sites, making it a cost-effective choice for exploring the region.
  14. Chartered Transportation: For larger groups or those seeking a more personalized experience, chartered transportation options such as private vans or taxis are available. These services allow you to customize your itinerary and have the flexibility to visit multiple attractions in a day.

Remember to check the schedules and plan your transportation in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons. Additionally, consider purchasing transportation passes or combination tickets that offer discounts on multiple modes of transportation or attractions, as they can help you save money and simplify your travel experience in Nikko.

source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube

Nikko 1 Day Travel Itinerary

If you have just one day to spend in Nikko, it’s important to plan your itinerary efficiently to make the most of your time. Here’s a suggested one-day travel itinerary for Nikko:


  1. Start your day early by taking the train from Tokyo to Nikko. The Tobu Nikko Line is a convenient option for reaching Nikko Station.
  2. Upon arrival at Nikko Station, head to the nearby Tobu Nikko Bus Terminal and purchase a Nikko City Area Pass, which allows unlimited bus rides within the city.
  3. Take a local bus to the Toshogu Shrine, the most famous attraction in Nikko. Explore the intricately designed buildings, the stunning Yomeimon Gate, and the ornate mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu.
  4. After visiting Toshogu Shrine, walk to nearby Rinno-ji Temple. Discover the tranquil gardens, explore the serene halls, and admire the three large Buddha statues within the temple complex.
  5. Enjoy a traditional Japanese lunch at one of the local restaurants near Toshogu Shrine or Rinno-ji Temple. Indulge in local specialties like yuba (tofu skin) dishes, Nikko-style soba noodles, or oyaki dumplings.


  1. Take a local bus to Lake Chuzenji, a scenic lake nestled in the mountains. Enjoy the picturesque views, take a leisurely stroll along the lake, or rent a paddleboat to explore the waters.
  2. Visit the iconic Kegon Falls, one of Japan’s most famous waterfalls. Take an elevator down to the observation deck to witness the impressive 97-meter waterfall cascading down the cliffs.
  3. If time permits, visit the Chuzenji Temple, located near Kegon Falls. Explore the peaceful temple grounds and enjoy the serene atmosphere surrounded by nature.
  4. Return to Nikko town by bus and head to the Shinkyo Sacred Bridge, located near Nikko Station. Admire the picturesque red bridge and the beautiful river views.


  1. Before leaving Nikko, take a stroll along Nikko Suginamiki, also known as Cedar Avenue. Enjoy the scenic beauty of the towering cedar trees that line the pathway.
  2. Visit a local restaurant for dinner and savor more of Nikko’s delicious cuisine. Try dishes like tempura, sukiyaki, or fresh seafood.
  3. If time allows, explore the local shops and souvenir stores to find unique gifts and mementos to remember your trip to Nikko.
  4. Finally, head back to Nikko Station and catch the train back to Tokyo, reflecting on the memorable day you’ve had in this historical and scenic destination.

While this itinerary provides a glimpse into Nikko’s highlights, keep in mind that Nikko has much more to offer. If you have additional time, consider extending your stay to fully explore the region’s temples, nature trails, and hot springs.

source: on YouTube

Nikko 3-4 Days Travel Itinerary

If you have 3-4 days to spend in Nikko, you’ll have more time to explore the region’s cultural and natural treasures. Here’s a suggested travel itinerary for Nikko spanning 3-4 days:

Day 1:

  1. Arrive in Nikko and check into your accommodation.
  2. Start your day by visiting Toshogu Shrine, the most famous shrine in Nikko. Explore the intricately designed buildings, including the stunning Yomeimon Gate and the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu.
  3. After Toshogu Shrine, visit Rinno-ji Temple, located nearby. Discover the tranquil gardens, explore the serene halls, and admire the three large Buddha statues within the temple complex.
  4. Enjoy a traditional Japanese lunch at one of the local restaurants near Toshogu Shrine or Rinno-ji Temple.
  5. In the afternoon, take a local bus to the Nikko National Park. Explore the beautiful landscapes and visit Lake Chuzenji, where you can take a boat ride or simply enjoy the scenic views.
  6. Visit Kegon Falls, one of Japan’s most famous waterfalls. Take an elevator down to the observation deck to witness the impressive waterfall cascading down the cliffs.
  7. Return to Nikko town and enjoy a relaxing evening exploring the streets, browsing local shops, or visiting one of the many onsen (hot spring) baths in the area.
  8. End the day with a delicious dinner, sampling Nikko’s local cuisine.

Day 2:

  1. Start your day by taking a local bus to the Oku-Nikko area.
  2. Explore the serene beauty of Lake Chuzenji and the surrounding mountains. Consider taking a hike along the trails to enjoy the natural scenery.
  3. Visit the Chuzenji Temple, located near Kegon Falls. Explore the temple grounds and take in the peaceful atmosphere.
  4. Take a bus to the Yumoto Onsen area and enjoy a relaxing soak in one of the hot spring baths.
  5. In the afternoon, visit the Senjogahara Marshland, a vast wetland with walking trails. Enjoy the tranquil surroundings and the opportunity to spot various bird species.
  6. Return to Nikko town and savor a delicious dinner at a local restaurant.
  7. Consider taking an evening stroll along Nikko Suginamiki, Cedar Avenue, to experience the magical atmosphere of the illuminated cedar trees.

Day 3:

  1. Take a local bus to the nearby town of Kinugawa Onsen.
  2. Spend the morning enjoying the hot springs and relaxing in one of the onsen resorts. Kinugawa Onsen offers a range of options for hot spring baths and spa treatments.
  3. Visit Tobu World Square, a theme park featuring miniature replicas of famous world landmarks. Explore the intricate details of the miniature structures and learn about different cultures.
  4. After lunch, take a boat ride along the Kinugawa River to admire the scenic beauty of the area.
  5. Return to Nikko and visit the Shinkyo Sacred Bridge, a picturesque red bridge located near Nikko Station. Take photos and enjoy the tranquil surroundings.
  6. Explore the local shops and markets to find unique souvenirs and local products.
  7. Enjoy a farewell dinner, savoring the flavors of Nikko’s cuisine.

Day 4 (optional):

If you have an extra day, you can consider one of the following options:

  1. Visit the Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura, a historical theme park that recreates the atmosphere of the Edo period (1603-1868). Experience samurai shows, traditional crafts, and the ambiance of old Japan.
  1. Explore more of Nikko’s natural beauty by taking a hiking trail in the Nikko National Park. Choose from various trails that lead to scenic viewpoints, waterfalls, and serene forests. Some popular options include the Mt. Nantai trail or the Yudaki Falls trail.
  2. Visit the Nikko Tamozawa Imperial Villa Memorial Park, a former summer residence of the Imperial Family. Explore the beautiful gardens, traditional architecture, and exhibits that provide insight into the villa’s history and significance.
  3. Take a leisurely walk through the historic Kanmangafuchi Abyss, known for its row of Jizo statues and scenic walking trail along the river.
  4. Discover the Oya History Museum, an abandoned stone quarry transformed into a museum. Explore the massive underground chambers and learn about the history of stone mining in the region.
  5. Visit the Nikko Botanical Garden to appreciate the diverse plant species, including many rare and endemic plants of Nikko’s mountainous region.

Remember to check the opening hours and transportation schedules for each attraction, and plan your itinerary accordingly. Also, be sure to allow some flexibility to adapt to your own preferences and interests as you explore Nikko.

source: Absent Abroad on YouTube

Nikko 1 Week Travel Itinerary

If you have a whole week to spend in Nikko, you can truly immerse yourself in the region’s rich cultural heritage, natural beauty, and nearby attractions. Here’s a suggested one-week travel itinerary for Nikko:

Day 1:

  • Arrive in Nikko and settle into your accommodation.
  • Spend the day exploring the UNESCO World Heritage site of Toshogu Shrine, including its stunning architectural features and intricate carvings.
  • Visit Rinno-ji Temple, home to Japan’s largest wooden statue of Buddha, and stroll through the tranquil temple gardens.
  • Enjoy a traditional Japanese dinner at a local restaurant in Nikko.

Day 2:

  • Take a day trip to the Oku-Nikko area.
  • Visit Lake Chuzenji and enjoy a boat ride on the picturesque lake. Take in the beautiful surrounding scenery and visit Chuzenji Temple.
  • Explore the Senjogahara Marshland, a pristine wetland area known for its stunning views and diverse wildlife.
  • Relax in the therapeutic waters of an onsen (hot spring) in the Oku-Nikko area.
  • Return to Nikko and dine at a local restaurant of your choice.

Day 3:

  • Venture to the nearby town of Kinugawa Onsen.
  • Spend the day relaxing and rejuvenating in the hot springs of Kinugawa Onsen. Choose from a variety of onsen resorts and indulge in their healing waters.
  • Visit Tobu World Square, a theme park featuring detailed replicas of famous world landmarks.
  • Take a boat ride along the Kinugawa River and enjoy the scenic views.
  • Return to Nikko and have dinner at a local eatery.

Day 4:

  • Explore the natural wonders of Nikko National Park.
  • Hike the trails to popular spots like Hangetsuyama Observation Deck or Mt. Takahara for breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and forests.
  • Discover the Yudaki Falls and Kirifuri Falls, where you can experience the beauty of cascading water in a serene setting.
  • Enjoy a picnic lunch amidst the natural beauty of the park.
  • Return to Nikko and treat yourself to a delicious dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 5:

  • Take a day trip to Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura, a historical theme park that recreates life during the Edo period. Immerse yourself in the culture, entertainment, and activities of this fascinating era.
  • Watch samurai shows, try traditional crafts, and explore the period-themed streets.
  • Enjoy a traditional Edo-style meal at one of the park’s restaurants.
  • Return to Nikko and relax in the evening at your leisure.

Day 6:

  • Visit the Nikko Tamozawa Imperial Villa Memorial Park, a former summer residence of the Imperial Family. Explore the beautifully preserved buildings, traditional gardens, and exhibits that depict the villa’s history.
  • Explore the historic Kanmangafuchi Abyss, known for its row of Jizo statues and scenic walking trail along the river.
  • Discover the Oya History Museum, an abandoned stone quarry transformed into a museum, showcasing the history of stone mining in the region.
  • Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant in Nikko.

Day 7:

  • Take a day trip to nearby Utsunomiya City.
  • Explore the city’s attractions, such as Tochigi Castle Ruins Park and Futaarasan Shrine.
  • Sample the local specialty, gyoza (dumplings), at one of Utsunomiya’s renowned gyoza restaurants.
  • Visit the Tochigi City Museum to learn about the local culture and history.
  • Return to Nikko and celebrate your last evening with a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

Throughout the week, allocate some time to wander through Nikko’s streets, browse local shops, and interact with the friendly locals. Here are a few more suggestions to make the most of your week in Nikko:

  • Take a leisurely walk along Nikko Suginamiki, Cedar Avenue, and appreciate the magical atmosphere created by the towering cedar trees.
  • Visit the Nikko Botanical Garden to explore the diverse plant species, including many rare and endemic plants of the Nikko region.
  • Embark on a cycling tour around Nikko and explore the countryside, visiting local villages and enjoying the scenic landscapes.
  • Join a traditional craft workshop and try your hand at pottery, calligraphy, or other traditional Japanese arts.
  • Take a scenic drive to the nearby Nasu area and explore attractions like Nasu Animal Kingdom, Nasu Rindoko Lake View, or Nasu Garden Outlet for shopping.
  • Venture further afield to the nearby cities of Fukushima or Sendai for a day trip, where you can discover more historical and cultural sites.

Remember to check the opening hours and transportation schedules for each attraction, and allow for some flexibility in your itinerary to accommodate personal preferences and unexpected discoveries along the way. By following this one-week itinerary, you’ll have ample time to experience the highlights of Nikko and its surroundings, immerse yourself in its cultural heritage, and appreciate the stunning natural landscapes of the region.

source: Here Be Barr on YouTube

Nikko 1 Month Travel Itinerary

Spending a month in Nikko provides a fantastic opportunity to explore the area in depth. Here’s a detailed itinerary to ensure a thorough experience:

Week 1: Deep Dive into History and Culture

Day 1-3: Nikko World Heritage Sites

  • Toshogu Shrine: Spend ample time exploring this elaborate shrine, dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu. Attend the daily ceremonies.
  • Rinno-ji Temple: Delve into the history of this temple, home to three gigantic gold-leafed Buddha statues.
  • Futarasan Shrine: Wander through this serene shrine, which pays homage to the deities of Nikko’s three most sacred mountains.
  • Tamozawa Imperial Villa: Former residence of the Imperial Family. The villa brilliantly blends Edo and Meiji architectural styles.

Day 4-5: Edo Wonderland

  • Explore this theme park replicating life in the Edo era. Attend theatrical shows, ninja demonstrations, and dress up in period costumes.

Day 6-7: Local Living

  • Take part in traditional tea ceremonies.
  • Attend local workshops like Nikko-bori carving or Japanese calligraphy.

Week 2: Nature and Scenic Beauty

Day 8-10: Nikko National Park

  • Lake Chuzenji: Enjoy boat rides and explore the lake’s perimeter.
  • Kegon Falls: Witness this magnificent waterfall, one of the three highest in Japan.
  • Senjogahara Plateau: Trek across this marshland, enjoying its flora and fauna.
  • Ryuzu Waterfall: Ideal for photography, especially during autumn.

Day 11-13: Kinugawa Onsen

  • Relax in the renowned hot springs.
  • Explore the nearby Edo-era themed Tobu World Square, which has replicas of world-famous monuments.

Day 14: British Embassy Villa Memorial Park

  • Spend the day here, understanding the relations between Britain and Japan and enjoying the Western-style garden.

Week 3: Exploring the Outskirts

Day 15-17: Okunikko Area

  • Explore Yumoto Onsen, another renowned hot spring area.
  • Visit the Yunoko Lake, formed by volcanic eruptions.
  • Enjoy the Senjogahara Marshland.

Day 18-20: Kirifuri Highlands

  • Ideal for hiking, the highlands provide panoramic views of Nikko.
  • Visit the Kirifuri Waterfall.

Day 21: Nikko Astraea Hotel

  • Enjoy the remote location of this hotel, which offers pristine views of the National Park.

Week 4: Leisure, Shopping, and Cuisine

Day 22-24: Local Cuisine

  • Spend these days tasting the local cuisine, focusing on specialties like Yuba dishes, Soba, and Manju.

Day 25-27: Shopping

  • Revisit Nikko Kanaya Hotel Shopping Plaza and Nikko Kammangafuchi Shopping Street for souvenirs.
  • Dedicate time to purchase local crafts, textiles, and Nikko-bori carvings.

Day 28: Local Festivals

  • Depending on the time of year, participate in or observe local festivals.

Day 29: Free Exploration

  • Revisit your favorite spots or explore hidden gems you’ve heard about during your stay.

Day 30: Reflect and Depart

  • Spend the day leisurely. In the evening, consider a quiet visit to a shrine or temple to reflect on your journey.

Given Nikko’s richness in both culture and natural beauty, a month allows for a comprehensive exploration. Remember to adjust the itinerary based on the season and personal preferences, and enjoy the vibrant blend of history, nature, and culture that Nikko offers!

Nikko waterfalls as a scenic destination to visit in Japan

Is Nikko A Safe City To Visit?

Yes, Nikko is generally considered a safe city to visit. Japan, in general, is known for its low crime rates and high levels of safety, and Nikko follows suit. The city is known for its peaceful and tranquil atmosphere, making it a safe destination for travelers.

However, as with any travel destination, it’s always important to exercise caution and follow common-sense safety practices. Here are some general tips to ensure a safe visit to Nikko:

  1. Take care of your belongings: Keep your personal belongings secure and be mindful of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas and tourist attractions. Use lockers or safes provided by your accommodation to store valuable items.
  2. Follow local regulations and customs: Respect the local culture and customs of Nikko. Familiarize yourself with local norms, such as appropriate behavior at temples and shrines, and be mindful of dress codes when visiting religious sites.
  3. Stay informed about weather conditions: Check weather forecasts and stay updated on any potential natural disasters or severe weather conditions that may affect your visit. Follow the guidance of local authorities in such situations.
  4. Use reliable transportation: Opt for licensed taxis, reputable transportation services, or official public transportation options when getting around Nikko. Be cautious when using unlicensed taxis or accepting rides from strangers.
  5. Be mindful of traffic safety: If you decide to rent a car or ride a bicycle, familiarize yourself with local traffic rules and regulations. Stay alert and observe pedestrian and cycling safety guidelines.
  6. Take precautions during outdoor activities: If you plan to engage in outdoor activities such as hiking or exploring nature trails, inform someone of your plans, carry necessary supplies, and be prepared for changes in weather conditions. Stay on designated paths and trails.

While Nikko is generally safe, it’s always advisable to have travel insurance that covers any unforeseen circumstances or emergencies. By following these safety tips and using common sense, you can have a secure and enjoyable visit to Nikko.

Nikko green scenery in Japan

When Is The Best Time To Visit Nikko?

The best time to visit Nikko largely depends on your preferences and what you want to experience. Nikko offers something unique and beautiful throughout the year. Here’s a breakdown of the different seasons in Nikko:

  1. Spring (March to May): Spring is a popular time to visit Nikko as the cherry blossoms (sakura) bloom, creating a picturesque scene. The Nikko Toshogu Shrine and other temples and gardens are adorned with delicate pink flowers. The weather is mild, and it’s a great time for outdoor activities and hiking in the surrounding areas.
  2. Summer (June to August): Summer in Nikko brings warmer temperatures, making it an ideal time for outdoor exploration. The surrounding nature is lush and green, and hiking trails offer stunning views of waterfalls and mountains. July and August can be humid, but it’s also the time for various festivals, including the Yayoi Festival and the Tochigi Gyoza Festival.
  3. Autumn (September to November): Autumn is considered one of the most beautiful seasons in Nikko. The foliage transforms into vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow, creating a stunning landscape. The fall colors can be observed throughout the city, as well as in the Nikko National Park. This is a popular time for photographers and nature enthusiasts.
  4. Winter (December to February): Winter in Nikko brings colder temperatures, and the region is blanketed in snow, creating a magical atmosphere. The surrounding mountains offer excellent skiing and snowboarding opportunities in places like the Oku-Nikko area. It’s also a great time to relax in the region’s onsen (hot springs) and enjoy winter festivals, such as the Tobu World Square Winter Illumination.

Overall, the best time to visit Nikko depends on your preferences. Spring and autumn are popular for their pleasant weather and natural beauty, while winter offers unique snow-covered landscapes and winter activities. It’s advisable to check the specific dates of festivals and events you may be interested in attending and consider the crowds and availability of accommodations when planning your visit.

Nikko stunning fall colours in Japan

Top Festivals and Events in Nikko

Nikko is a city in the mountains of Tochigi Prefecture, Japan, and is known for its historically significant temples and beautiful national parks. The city is a hub of numerous festivals and events that mirror the rich culture, history, and natural beauty of the region. Here are some of the top festivals and events in Nikko:

  1. Toshogu Shrine Spring and Autumn Festivals (Yayoi Festival and Shuki Festival)
    • When: The Spring Festival is held in May while the Autumn Festival is in October.
    • Details: These festivals celebrate the legacy of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate. The highlight is a grand procession known as the “Hyakumono-Zoroe Sennin Gyoretsu”, where over 1,000 people dressed in traditional samurai and feudal-era costumes parade through the streets.
  2. Nikko Toshogu Shrine Setsubun Festival
    • When: February 3rd or 4th.
    • Details: Celebrating the traditional event of Setsubun, which marks the start of spring in the old lunar calendar. Participants throw roasted soybeans to chase away evil spirits and welcome good fortune.
  3. Nikko Kinugawa-Onsen Noryo Fireworks Festival
    • When: Held on multiple nights during summer.
    • Details: An enchanting display of fireworks illuminates the summer night skies above the Kinugawa River, creating a mesmerizing reflection over the water.
  4. World Heritage Shrine and Temple Light-Up
  5. Kegon Falls Autumn Leaves Illumination
    • When: Mid to Late November.
    • Details: As autumn paints the leaves in hues of red, yellow, and gold, the iconic Kegon Falls is illuminated in the evenings. The contrast between the fiery autumn leaves and the cascade of the waterfall is simply ethereal.
  6. Nikko Historic Edo Wonderland Winter Illumination
    • When: December to February.
    • Details: The Edo Wonderland, a theme park that recreates the Edo period of Japan, becomes a winter wonderland with thousands of twinkling lights, offering a magical atmosphere reminiscent of old Japan.
  7. Slippery Road Race (Nikko City Skating Festival)
    • When: Early February.
    • Details: A unique event where participants race on the icy roads of Nikko, demonstrating their skating skills amidst the chill of winter.
  8. Chuzenji Lake Ice Festival
    • When: January to February.
    • Details: The shores of Lake Chuzenji transform into a winter spectacle with ice sculptures, snow slides, and food stalls. The highlight is the ice sculpture contest where artists showcase their incredible craftsmanship.
  9. Grand Spring Festival at Futarasan Shrine
    • When: Mid-April.
    • Details: Celebrated at the Futarasan Shrine, this festival ushers in the spring season. Traditional Yabusame (horseback archery) can be witnessed, which is an exhilarating sight.
  10. Nikko Toshogu Shrine Peony Festival
  • When: Late April to Mid-May.
  • Details: The shrine’s garden gets adorned with over a thousand peonies in full bloom, creating a carpet of vibrant colors.

Nikko’s festivals and events not only celebrate the area’s rich history and culture but also the changing seasons, showcasing the intrinsic connection the Japanese have with nature. If you’re planning a visit, aligning your trip with any of these events will only amplify the cultural and historical experience of Nikko.

source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube

Nikko Shopping Guide and Souvenir List

Nikko, with its rich history and natural beauty, also offers unique shopping experiences. The region is known for its traditional crafts, local foods, and items that capture the spirit of the area. Here’s a comprehensive Nikko shopping guide and a list of souvenirs to consider:

Nikko Shopping Guide:

  1. Nikko Kanaya Hotel Shopping Plaza: Located within the oldest western-style hotel in Japan, this plaza offers a variety of local products, from food items to crafts, making it a convenient one-stop-shop for tourists.
  2. Nikko Kirifuri Highlands: Beyond its scenic beauty, the highlands area has a number of shops that sell fresh produce, dairy products, and other local specialties.
  3. Nikko Kammangafuchi Shopping Street: Located near the scenic Tamozawa Imperial Villa, this shopping street is filled with quaint shops offering a variety of souvenirs and local goods.

Nikko Souvenir List:

  1. Yuba (Tofu Skin): One of Nikko’s most famous delicacies. Yuba can be bought fresh, dried, or even in the form of sweets. It’s a versatile ingredient that represents Nikko’s culinary heritage.
  2. Nikko Geta (Wooden Sandals): These traditional wooden sandals are crafted in the Nikko style and are both decorative and functional. They offer an authentic touch of Japanese culture to take home.
  3. Manju (Sweet Buns): Particularly the “Nikko Manju”, a sweet bun filled with bean paste. This is a classic souvenir to bring back from any Japanese destination, and Nikko’s variety is particularly tasty.
  4. Nikko-bori Carvings: These are intricate wooden carvings and lacquerware. Originating during the Edo period, the craftsmanship of Nikko-bori is exceptional, making it a precious keepsake or gift.
  5. Sake: Nikko has some local sake breweries, and you can buy a bottle of the local brew as a memento or gift. Some breweries also offer tasting sessions.
  6. Japanese Tea Sets: Given Nikko’s serene setting, it’s a great place to shop for traditional Japanese tea sets. Savoring tea back home from a Nikko-bought set can be a delightful way to reminisce about the trip.
  7. Shrine and Temple Amulets: Available at the Toshogu Shrine and other shrines and temples in Nikko, these amulets or “omamori” are believed to offer protection or blessings. They’re lightweight, meaningful, and make great gifts.
  8. Local Snacks: Consider picking up snacks like “Age Yuba Manju”, a deep-fried sweet bun, or “Senbei”, Japanese rice crackers. They offer a taste of Nikko that can be shared with friends and family.
  9. Local Crafts: From textiles to ceramics, there’s a rich variety of crafts available in Nikko. They reflect the area’s artistry and are perfect as keepsakes.
  10. Nikko Natural Cosmetics: With its pristine environment, Nikko has begun producing natural cosmetics using local ingredients. These cosmetics, infused with Nikko’s natural essence, make for unique gifts.
  11. Postcards and Art Prints: Many shops sell postcards and art prints featuring Nikko’s stunning landscapes, shrines, and landmarks. They’re a lightweight and beautiful memento of the trip.

When shopping in Nikko, it’s advisable to have some cash on hand as not all places may accept credit cards. Also, remember to check the opening and closing times of shops, as they might differ from typical city hours.

No matter what you choose to buy, each souvenir from Nikko carries a piece of its rich heritage and natural beauty, making it a cherished memory of your time in this historic city.

source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube

Where To Visit After Your Trip To Nikko?

After your trip to Nikko, there are several fantastic destinations nearby that you can visit to continue your exploration of Japan. Here are some popular options:

  1. Tokyo: As the bustling capital city of Japan, Tokyo is a must-visit destination. Experience the vibrant city life, explore historic sites such as the Imperial Palace and Meiji Shrine, indulge in world-class shopping and dining, and immerse yourself in the diverse neighborhoods and cultural attractions.
  2. Kamakura: Located just south of Tokyo, Kamakura is known for its numerous temples, shrines, and historical landmarks. Visit the iconic Great Buddha (Daibutsu), explore the beautiful Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, and enjoy the serene atmosphere of the coastal city.
  3. Yokohama: Situated adjacent to Tokyo, Yokohama offers a mix of modern attractions and historical charm. Stroll along the vibrant waterfront area of Minato Mirai, visit the captivating Yokohama Chinatown, and enjoy panoramic views from the Landmark Tower Observatory.
  4. Nikko’s Surrounding Prefectures: If you want to continue exploring the natural beauty of the region, consider visiting neighboring prefectures such as Tochigi, Fukushima, or Gunma. Each of these prefectures offers stunning landscapes, hot springs, historic towns, and outdoor activities.
  5. Mount Fuji: A visit to Japan wouldn’t be complete without seeing the iconic Mount Fuji. Located west of Tokyo, Mount Fuji is Japan’s highest mountain and a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can take a day trip to the Fuji Five Lakes area, hike part of the mountain, or simply admire its beauty from a distance.
  6. Sendai and Matsushima: Head north to Sendai, the largest city in the Tohoku region, and explore its historical sites, vibrant food scene, and beautiful parks. From there, you can visit Matsushima, known for its picturesque bay dotted with small islands and stunning views.
  7. Hakone: Situated in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Hakone is a popular getaway destination known for its hot springs, scenic beauty, and views of Mount Fuji. Enjoy a relaxing soak in an onsen, take a boat cruise on Lake Ashi, and explore the Hakone Open-Air Museum.
  8. Kyoto: Journey to the ancient city of Kyoto, renowned for its well-preserved temples, shrines, and traditional architecture. Immerse yourself in Japanese history and culture by visiting iconic landmarks like Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, and the historic district of Gion.
  9. Osaka: Known for its vibrant food scene and lively atmosphere, Osaka offers a perfect blend of modern attractions and cultural heritage. Explore the bustling Dotonbori district, visit Osaka Castle, and experience the thrilling rides at Universal Studios Japan.
  10. Hiroshima: Travel to Hiroshima and pay a visit to the Peace Memorial Park and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, which commemorate the atomic bombing during World War II. Take a ferry to Miyajima Island and marvel at the famous Itsukushima Shrine and its iconic floating torii gate.
  11. Nara: Delve into Japan’s ancient history by visiting Nara, where you can encounter friendly wild deer roaming freely in Nara Park. Explore the renowned Todai-ji Temple, home to the Great Buddha statue, and visit the tranquil gardens of Kasuga Taisha Shrine.
  12. Kanazawa: Discover the charm of Kanazawa, a city known for its beautifully preserved Edo-era districts, traditional teahouses, and well-manicured Kenrokuen Garden. Visit Kanazawa Castle, the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, and the samurai district of Nagamachi.
  13. Takayama: Experience the traditional side of Japan in Takayama, a quaint town nestled in the Japanese Alps. Stroll through the well-preserved old town, explore the Takayama Jinya, and immerse yourself in the local culture at the morning market.
  14. Nagano: Journey to Nagano, famous for its stunning snow-capped mountains and historic temples. Visit the Zenko-ji Temple, soak in the hot springs of Yudanaka Onsen, and enjoy winter sports at the renowned ski resorts of Hakuba or Shiga Kogen.
  15. Izu Peninsula: If you’re seeking relaxation and natural beauty, head to the Izu Peninsula. Explore the coastal town of Shimoda, visit the scenic Jogasaki Coast, relax in hot springs, and enjoy fresh seafood delicacies.
  16. Sapporo: If you’re a fan of winter activities, consider visiting Sapporo in Hokkaido. Explore the Sapporo Snow Festival, where you can marvel at the incredible ice sculptures, enjoy skiing or snowboarding in nearby resorts, and indulge in delicious Hokkaido cuisine.
  17. Fukuoka: Located on the southern island of Kyushu, Fukuoka offers a blend of modern cityscape and rich history. Visit the historic Fukuoka Castle, explore the vibrant food stalls at the lively street markets, and take a day trip to the nearby scenic island of Nokonoshima.
  18. Beppu: Known as one of Japan’s leading hot spring resorts, Beppu is the perfect destination to relax and rejuvenate. Experience the unique hot spring baths, including the famous “Hells of Beppu,” and enjoy the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains and coastal areas.
  19. Himeji: Visit Himeji and explore its UNESCO World Heritage Site, Himeji Castle. Known as the “White Heron Castle,” it is considered one of Japan’s most beautiful and well-preserved castles. Take a stroll through the beautiful Koko-en Garden located nearby.
  20. Shirakawa-go: Journey to the historic village of Shirakawa-go, famous for its traditional thatched-roof houses. Experience the rural atmosphere, learn about the unique architectural style, and enjoy the stunning scenery, especially during winter when the village is covered in snow.
  21. Naoshima: If you’re an art lover, Naoshima Island in the Seto Inland Sea is a must-visit. This small island is home to contemporary art museums, outdoor sculptures, and art installations. Explore the renowned Benesse House Museum and experience the intersection of art and nature.
  22. Miyazaki: Located on the southern coast of Kyushu, Miyazaki is known for its stunning beaches, lush greenery, and ancient shrines. Visit the Aoshima Island and its picturesque shrine, relax on the beautiful beaches, and explore the breathtaking Takachiho Gorge.
  23. Okayama: Explore the city of Okayama and visit the famous Korakuen Garden, considered one of Japan’s top three gardens. Discover Okayama Castle, explore the Okayama Momotaro Village, and take a short trip to Kurashiki to explore its historic canal district.
  24. Matsue: Journey to Matsue in Shimane Prefecture and experience the charm of this castle town. Visit Matsue Castle, take a boat ride on Lake Shinji, and explore the historical district of samurai houses and preserved streets.
  25. Naha, Okinawa: Escape to the tropical paradise of Okinawa and visit Naha, the capital city. Explore the vibrant Kokusai Street, visit the historic Shuri Castle, and enjoy the beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters of Okinawa’s islands. Immerse yourself in the unique culture and traditions of the Ryukyu Kingdom.

These are just a few of the many destinations you can consider visiting after your trip to Nikko. Each offers unique experiences, historical sites, natural wonders, and cultural attractions that will enrich your journey through Japan. Plan accordingly based on your interests, available time, and transportation options.

Shinkyo bridge in Nikko, Japan

Nikko Travel Guide: Final Thoughts

Nikko is a captivating destination that seamlessly combines rich cultural heritage with breathtaking natural beauty. With its stunning shrines, temples, and historic sites, as well as its proximity to the majestic Nikko National Park, there is something for every traveler to enjoy.

Immerse yourself in the grandeur of Toshogu Shrine, explore the peaceful surroundings of Rinno-ji Temple, and marvel at the natural wonders of Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Falls. Take in the beauty of the changing seasons, whether it’s the cherry blossoms in spring, the vibrant foliage in autumn, or the snowy landscapes in winter.

Beyond the main attractions, Nikko offers a range of activities to indulge in, including hot spring baths, hiking trails, and delicious local cuisine. Don’t miss the opportunity to try Nikko’s famous yuba dishes, soba noodles, and oyaki dumplings.

With its convenient access from Tokyo and its serene ambiance, Nikko is a perfect getaway from the bustling city. Whether you’re seeking cultural exploration, outdoor adventure, or a relaxing retreat, Nikko has it all.

As you plan your trip to Nikko, consider the best time to visit based on your preferences, research accommodations that suit your needs, and create an itinerary that allows you to make the most of your time in this enchanting destination.

Remember to respect the local customs, take care of the natural surroundings, and embrace the tranquility that Nikko offers. The city’s beauty and charm are sure to leave a lasting impression and create memories to cherish. Enjoy your journey in Nikko, and may it be filled with wonder and discovery.

In Nikko’s ancient realm, where wonders unfold, Where nature and culture harmoniously hold. Shrines and temples stand with grace untold, A journey of the soul, a story yet untold.

Toshogu’s splendor, a treasure to behold, Intricate carvings, tales of warriors of old. Rinno-ji’s serenity, a sanctuary of peace, Buddha’s presence, serenely at ease.

Lake Chuzenji, a mirror of dreams, Mountains embrace, nature’s pristine streams. Kegon Falls cascades, a majestic sight, Nature’s power, filling hearts with delight.

Hot springs beckon, soothe body and mind, Under starlit skies, relaxation we find. Yuba’s delicate taste, soba noodles divine, Nikko’s flavors, a culinary journey fine.

Cedar-lined paths lead us on our way, Whispering tales of a bygone day. Nikko’s essence, in every sight and sound, A place of wonder, where beauty is found.

From sunrise to sunset, Nikko’s allure, A traveler’s heart, forever secure. With gratitude, we leave this sacred land, Nikko’s memories, like petals in our hand.

In the land of Nikko, where wonders reside, A journey awaits, with beauty as our guide. Shrines and temples, steeped in ancient grace, Whisper tales of history in every sacred space.

Toshogu Shrine, adorned in vibrant hues, With intricate carvings, it’s a sight to enthuse. Rinno-ji Temple, tranquil and serene, Where Buddha’s wisdom, in stillness is seen.

Mountains embrace, Lake Chuzenji’s allure, Reflecting nature’s splendor, pure and sure. Kegon Falls cascades, a mesmerizing flow, Unleashing its power, a sight to behold.

Hiking trails unfold, in Nikko’s embrace, Through forests and valleys, at a gentle pace. Discover hidden gems, along each winding way, Nature’s symphony, guiding us day by day.

Hot springs beckon, to soothe weary souls, Where relaxation and tranquility unfold. Indulge in local delights, flavors to savor, Yuba, soba noodles, a culinary endeavor.

Cedar-lined paths, in whispers they speak, Echoing the secrets, only nature can seek. Find solace and peace, amidst towering trees, Nikko’s embrace, a gentle and comforting breeze.

As travelers we venture, in Nikko we find, A place where memories are forever entwined. With gratitude and awe, we bid our adieu, Nikko, forever cherished, in our hearts anew.

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