Nikko Travel Guide

  • Bus at Chuzenji Onsen Stop
    Bus at Chuzenji Onsen Stop
    by Rabbityama
  • Tobu Bus at Chuzenji Onsen Stop
    Tobu Bus at Chuzenji Onsen Stop
    by Rabbityama
  • Nikko
    by triplehelix

Nikko Highlights

  • Pro
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    naruto says…

     Culturally Rich Heritage. Lavish Religious Buildings 

  • Con
    nicolaitan profile photo

    nicolaitan says…

     short on conveniences on site 

  • In a nutshell
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    tigerjapan says…

     A wonderfully historically rich daytrip from Tokyo 

Nikko Things to Do

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  • Kanmangafuchi Abyss

    Most day trippers to Nikko come, rightly, to see its magnificent shrines, but if you’re here for any longer you really shouldn’t miss a visit to the so-called Kanmangafuchi Abyss. While “abyss” is rather a grand term for what is essentially a small gorge, it’s a scenic spot and one which you’ll probably share with only a handful of other tourists...

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  • The Bake-Jizō of Kanmangafuchi

    As soon as I saw photos of these haunting statues I knew I had to see them for myself. Commonly referred to as Hyaku Jizō, meaning the “100 Jizō”, there are in fact around 70 or 80 here as some were washed away in the 1902 flood. I say “around 70 or 80” because it is said that no one knows the exact number. A legend says that each time...

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  • Shinkyo Bridge

    This distinctive red bridge is something of a symbol for Nikko. It belongs to the Futarasan Shrine (not, as may seem more likely, the slightly nearer Tosho-gu) and is the oldest bridge built over a gorge in Japan. It dates originally (in this form) from 1636. In 1902, during restoration works it was destroyed by the river and it was reconstructed...

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  • Toshogu Shrine: general information

    There is one sight that every visitor to Nikko comes to see, and that is the Toshogu Shrine. And rightly so. This flamboyantly ornamented, intricately carved, riotously coloured collection of buildings will blow your mind!The shrine is the burial place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate, which ruled from 1600...

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  • Toshogu Shrine: Ishidorii

    You enter the complex through a massive torii gate, Ishidorii. This pre-dates Toshogu, having been dedicated in 1618 by Kuroda Nagamasa, the feudal lord of Kyushu Chikuzen (nowadays Fukuoka Prefecture). The torii is made out of 15 blocks of stone, instead of wood, which is more usually used for torii. This stone was transported by ship from Kyushu...

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  • Toshogu Shrine: the Five-storied Pagoda

    Inside the Ishidorii the first building you come to, on your left, is the Five-storied Pagoda or Gojunoto. This is designated as an Important Cultural Property by the government of Japan. The Gojunoto Pagoda was dedicated in 1648 by Sakai Tadakatsu, the feudal lord of Obama in Wakasa Province (present day Fukui Prefecture). But the one that stands...

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Nikko Restaurants

  • By the start of the path through the...

    Just by the start of the path to the Kanmangafuchi Abyss and the Bake-Jizō is a small wooden building housing a café, the name of which I’ve been unable to trace. We had lunch here soon after arriving in Nikko as it was convenient for our accommodation in the Turtle Annexe and our planned walk through the abyss. There was no English menu but...

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  • Try the local speciality

    This small "mom and pop" establishment is on the western side of town, a convenient 10 minutes or so walk from the Turtle Inn Annexe where we were staying and recommended by them. So it seemed an obvious place to try for dinner especially as it was drizzling with rain on our first evening.We sat in a cosy corner near the bar, with Japanese baseball...

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  • Handy for lunch

    After a long morning exploring Toshogu and Futarasan we were ready for some lunch, and in the grey and chilly weather, preferably something warming. I’d spotted a sign near the entrance to Toshogu that had looked promising so we headed over there to explore. Kishino is part gift shop, part restaurant. You enter the latter through the former, so it...

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  • A place with character

    As we started to walk along the main street of the town we were in search of somewhere we could get a drink and a short rest after climbing the ten storeys of the Rinnoji restoration structure. We found what we wanted at Hippari Dako, a tiny place on the west side of the main street at the Shinkyo Bridge end. There are only three tables inside and...

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  • Early closing

    The guidebook I was using said that this restaurant was open till 8.00 PM, unlike many in town, so we headed there for an early (for us) dinner at about 6.30, only to be told on arrival that they were about to close. I asked the waitress if she knew of any other restaurant nearby that would still be open, explaining that we were hungry and wanted...

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  • Kawa-no-Hotori - The Banks of the River

    Along the Romantic Highway an hour or so east of Nikko, there isn't much for the tired, bored or hungry traveler. We were searching for some food, and we saw lots of signs for fish, but it turned out they were ads for a pay to fish lake, not a restaurant. Luckily, within a kilometer we found a gem of a restaurant.The name of the restaurant is...

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Nikko Transportation

  • Getting to Nikko

    We travelled to Nikko by train from Tokyo's huge Shinjuku Station. Our journey involved two trains (although there a very few direct services if you prefer not to have to change). Firstly we took a Limited Express service to Shimo Imaichi, which took an hour and 45 minutes. There we had just a couple of minutes to transfer to the local Tōbu...

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  • Buses to Oku-Nikko

    Oku-Nikko has many worthwhile sites, but there are no train stations in the area, so the best way to get there is to take a bus.Tobu Bus operates from Tobu-Nikko Station and JR Nikko Station to:-Chuzenjionsen (home to Chuzenji Lake, Chuzenji Temple, Chuzenji Onsen, and Kegon Falls)-Ryuzunotaki (Ryuzu Falls)-Akinuma and Senbonmatsu (Senjogahara...

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  • Getting to Nikko

    Nikko is served by both JR and Tobu Railways.For most people, Tobu Railways is the most useful and cost-effective. The World Heritage Sites are accessible from Tobu-Nikko Station. Some trains go directly there, but you can also transfer at Shimo-Ichi Station. Tobu Railways also serves the Kinugawa Onsen area.Here are some of the Tobu Railway...

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Nikko Shopping

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo

    by toonsarah Written Jan 14, 2014

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    In this small shop on Nikko's main street a local woodcarver makes and sells his beautiful work - small bowls, hand mirrors, boxes and larger items, all carved with intricate flowers and stained red with a dye made from cashew nuts. I couldn't resist buying one of the bowls, which cost 4,000¥. Each one is unique so that isn't a bad price at all, and the items are all so light and easy to carry (and of course, as this is Japan, beautifully wrapped on purchase) that they make great souvenirs of your trip or gifts for someone back home.

    I only wished I had taken my camera when I went back to buy the bowl, (having seen them the previous day) as I would have loved to have captured a picture of the artist at work and of some at least of the many other beautiful items he has created.

    After enjoying all the shops etc along the street we reached the bottom, by Tobu Nikko Station, and continued on to see Nikko’s other station.

    What to pay: My bowl was at the lower end of the price range - larger items will cost more but the work that goes into them more than justifies the prices charged

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    • Arts and Culture

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Nikko Local Customs

  • The stone cups

    On leaving the Jokoji Temple we took a short stroll around the nearby streets, partly to get our bearings and plan where to eat later. These streets have channels on either side, filled with running fresh water making its way down to the Daiya River below. My attention was caught by some unusual looking stone structures that sat on the edge of...

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  • Children's festival

    While at Futarasan we had seen several local families with small children dressed up in traditional costume, clearly here for a celebration. The festivities were focussed on a building to the right of the shrine itself and one mother there was more than happy for me to photograph her children, even encouraging them to pose for me (photo four).When...

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  • Nikkoji beer

    We stopped for an early evening drink in the Little Wing cafe on Nikko's main street and were pleased to find that they served the local pilsner style beer, Nikkoji, as we'd been keen to try it. We found it pleasant enough though not really any different to other Japanese lagers, all of which are very palatable but unremarkable. It was maybe a...

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Nikko Warnings and Dangers

  • So many people!

    This is not a warning about any sort of danger; just something to be aware of when visiting Nikko. It is a very popular place! Or at least, Toshogu is very popular. We went first thing in the morning, hoping to beat the crowds who make the day trip from Tokyo, but already there were some bus trips there and it was heaving by 10.00 AM. This is not...

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  • Allergies

    Warning! If you are allergic to Cedar, or Japanese cedar, (or Monkeys, for that matter) bring asparin, antihistamines, or Gauze mask. I went there in April 2004. I loved the temples, and hated downtown, but I could not breathe due to an allergy. I picked up gauze mask at the subway station in Ginza, tokyo (people HATE it when you cough on the...

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  • Visiting Nikko in the Autumn

    If you are visiting Nikko in the Autumn (Fall), be prepared for crowds as I believe this is the busiest time of the year. Fortunately I was there late Spring.

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Nikko Tourist Traps

  • Combination ticket

    Included in the combination ticket to the shrines is the Futarasan Shrine. This is built in the same style as the Toshogu shrine. Once you've seen the main attraction, Toshogu shrine, there is no need to see the Futarasan shrine. It pales in comparison to the opulence of the main shrine.

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  • Nikko Saru Gandan (Monkey Show)

    There is a very well known and popular tourist attraction outside of Nikko with performing monkeys. I reluctantly went along with my (Japanese) wife and was appalled. The monkeys do not look as if they are enjoying themselves at all and flinch when the 'monkey master' raises his stick. No guessing what goes on in rehearsals :(

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  • Sleeping Cat......Overrated

    Nikko is such a cool place, but I thought the Sleeping Cat was a huge disappointment. It is billed as an attraction, and there was a level of anticipation seeing all the tourists were lining up politely to see what it is all about, but it is just a colorful mural of a cat....sleeping. If you expecting something awe-inspiring after all the grandiose...

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Nikko What to Pack

  • keeweechic's Profile Photo

    by keeweechic Written Feb 25, 2003

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: During the summer months, Japan can be hot and humid so you will need light clothing. In hilly areas of Nikko, it can get cool. Watch out for the rainy season (June/July) and take a brolly and a light parker.

    Photo Equipment: Film is fairly expensive so you would do well to bring plenty with you.

    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism

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Nikko Off The Beaten Path

  • Jokoji Temple

    On the western side of Nikko, tucked away among the streets of small houses, is a small and much less visited temple, Jokoji or as it is sometimes transcribed, Joukouji. A small gate, a dragon water fountain for purification, a row of small statues including a couple of contemplative Buddhas ... And beyond, a cemetery with ancient and more recent...

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  • Detail of the Fivestoried Pagoda

    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 !

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  • Nikko Natural Science Museum

    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...

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Nikko Favorites

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  • Nikkoji Beer - Premium

    Nikko is a Japanese town best known for its ancient temples that are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town also brews a few fine beers including Nikkoji Pilsner and Nikkoji Premium.I brought a few bottles of Nikkoji Premium at a town outside of Nikko (730 Yen per bottle) and drank them at home a few days later. The Premium beer has a classy...

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  • Nikkoji Beer - Pilsner

    Nikko is a Japanese town best known for its ancient temples that are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town also brews a few fine beers including Nikkoji Pilsner and Nikkoji Premium.I first tried Nikkoji Pilsner at a small restaurant in central Nikko, not far from the train station, where the beer was an expensive 730 Yen per bottle. The waiter...

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  • Nikko Agenda

    You will miss a lot if you just walk around Central Nikko. There are a lot of beautiful sites in Nikko. If you only have a day or 2 to spend, I suggest you explore the Northern Tip first. It saves time and you get to see more. 1. Yudaki Falls - You can spend the night at Yumoto Onsen. Higher Elevation so the air is nice and crisp.2. Ryuzu Falls -...

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