For a bit of solitude and fresh air there is a pleasant 2 1/2 hours hike which can be made taking thus gaining some great views over the Kegon Falls. After taking the Tobu Yumoto bus from outside of the Nikko Shrines ask to be set down at the Akechidaira Plateau cable car. This tiny 8 person standing room only red gondola will wisk you up to the beginning of the walking trail. Firstly it is from here where the best views of the distant water falls and Chuzenji-ko behind are visible. Although not clearly signposted, nor in English, the walking trail takes one further up into the hills where it noticably becomes cooler. At 1617m you will eventually get up to the Chanokidaira Plateau and there it is a stroll to the other side where one starts the easy zig-zag down towards the resort township which strides Chuzenji Lake. You suddenly come out onto a road and the left hand turn will take you to the lake, while the right hand turn will eventually get you to the Kegon Falls elevator. Buses return to Nikko from the main road.
The pagoda was built in 1818. The original (built in 1650) was destroyed by fire. The 5 stories represent 5 elements...earth, water, fire, wind and heaven.
It is more than worthwile, to study the meticulously carved details of this monument !
Chuzenji Lake is some distance above Nikko in the near by hills. On a summers day it is pleasantly much cooler up here and makes a great place for walking or riding the giant peddle swans. At first sight in the mist one can appear like the Loch Ness Monster of a sort.
On the shore of lake Chuzen-ji, Nantai-san is on of the most sacred mountains in Japan. Luckily, they don't mind you climbing it, but you do have to pay 500 yen for the privelege at the temple at the bottom, where you also get given a "charm" to ward of evil spirits.
Only about 2-3 hours to reach the top, this is not a long walk, but can be difficult due to the rocks that make the path essentially one long scramble. Views from the top are magnificent, and well worth the effort.
Up the street from Nikko in the direction of Chuzenji Lake, you can find Jakko no Taki. It will involve a long hike, but it is worth the walk. Follow the signs off the main road and up a long, windy dirt road to a parking lot. Go throught the (likely empty) parking lot and climb up the stairs and down the path for a close view of Jakko Falls. You can walk right below the falls and they are gorgeous, and the surrounding area is beautiful as well.
North of Nikko, in a wide valley between high halfmountains, there is a meadow that looks peaceful and green. This is the Senjogahara-valley. It is actually a big swamp that once swallowed a whole army of rebels against the Shogun. He lured them there and their heavy armoment made them sink into the muddy underground that is camouflaged by the meadows.
Confusingly not in Nikko, it's located high up in the mountains beside Lake Chuzenji and the Kegon Falls. This modern building covers the natural environment of the Nikko National Park with plenty of interesting displays and dioramas on the flora and fauna.
The easiest way to get here is by the #1 or #2 bus from Nikko and get off at the Chuzenji Bus Terminal.
An area with shops, noodle restaurants and outstanding scenery. In between tour buses full of tourists take the time to sit and watch the water while slurping your noodles with fresh mountain vegetables. Talk the long uphill walk to the bridge crossing the falls and see the lake miles beyond. The next bus can take you to the hot spring area where you can take a hot, smelly but wonderfully relaxing sulphur bath
Get a one-day bus ticket to take you around the national park, take a cable car to see Lake Chuzenji, waterfalls, mountains and mist.
After taking a cable car to the top of a mountain, we waited and waited for the mists to lift for our promised view. When it did....
After entering Toshogu, take a look to the right at the Sanjinko, a group of 3 sacred houses. Upstairs is renowned for the elephants carved by an artist who had never seen the real thing !