Nikko is a small town located in the Tochigi Prefecture of Japan that is known for its breathtaking natural beauty, rich cultural and religious history, and delicious local cuisine. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful getaway or an action-packed adventure, Nikko has something for everyone. Here are 10 exciting things to do in Nikko that you won’t want to miss:
Explore the Rich History of Nikko
Nikko boasts a rich history, and exploring it is one of the best things to do in the town. One of the must-see historical landmarks is the Toshogu Shrine, which is the resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, a famous shogun who played a crucial role in Japan’s history. Marvel at the intricate carvings and sculptures that adorn the shrine’s structures, and learn about the shrine’s significance in Japanese culture and history.
Visit the Toshogu Shrine
Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Toshogu Shrine is one of the most visited attractions in Nikko. The shrine is a monument to Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo period, and features a complex of over a dozen buildings with intricate carvings and sculptures.
As you explore the Toshogu Shrine, take note of the unique architectural style that blends Japanese and Chinese elements. The shrine is also known for its colorful and ornate details, including gold leaf and lacquerwork. Be sure to visit the Yomeimon Gate, which is considered one of the most beautiful gates in Japan.
Discover the Futarasan Shrine
The Futarasan Shrine is another prominent religious monument in Nikko that is popular with visitors. The shrine is dedicated to the worship of the three mountains that surround Nikko, and it is said to have been established over a thousand years ago. Visitors can marvel at the traditional Japanese architecture and peaceful natural surroundings of the shrine.
While at the Futarasan Shrine, take a stroll through the nearby cedar forest, which is considered one of the most beautiful forests in Japan. The forest is home to ancient trees that are hundreds of years old, creating a serene and tranquil atmosphere.
Step Back in Time at the Tamozawa Imperial Villa
The Tamozawa Imperial Villa was once a summer home for the imperial family, and it now serves as a museum. Visitors can walk through the various rooms of the villa and see how the imperial family would have lived during their visits to Nikko. The gardens surrounding the villa are also worth exploring.
As you explore the Tamozawa Imperial Villa, take note of the unique blend of Japanese and Western architectural styles. The villa features beautiful tatami rooms, intricate wood carvings, and stunning stained glass windows. Be sure to visit the tea room, where the imperial family would have enjoyed traditional Japanese tea ceremonies.
Overall, Nikko’s rich history is evident in its many historical landmarks and cultural attractions. Whether you’re interested in architecture, religion, or Japanese history, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this beautiful town.
Experience the Natural Beauty of Nikko
Nikko is a picturesque and serene town located in the Tochigi Prefecture of Japan. The town is home to some of Japan’s most breathtaking natural landscapes, and there are many ways to experience them. Here are a few of the highlights:
Marvel at the Kegon Falls
The Kegon Falls are one of Japan’s three most beautiful waterfalls, and they are a must-see attraction for nature lovers visiting Nikko. The falls are located in the Nikko National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The waterfall drops over 300 feet into a gorge, creating a stunning spectacle that is best viewed from the observation deck. Visitors can take an elevator down to the base of the falls for an up-close and personal view.
Legend has it that the Kegon Falls were created by a Buddhist monk who split a mountain in half with a single blow of his staff. The waterfall is also considered a sacred site by the Japanese, and many visitors come to offer prayers and make wishes.
Wander Through the Senjogahara Marshland
The Senjogahara Marshland is a vast natural expanse that is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna. The marshland is located at an altitude of 1,400 meters above sea level and covers an area of approximately 400 hectares. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll through the marshland on a boardwalk and soak in the peaceful beauty of the area. The boardwalk is approximately 3.5 kilometers long and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests.
The Senjogahara Marshland is also known for its rich history. During the Edo period, the marshland was used as a grazing area for horses that were used to transport goods along the Nikko Kaido road. The marshland was also an important source of peat, which was used as fuel for cooking and heating.
Relax in the Yumoto Onsen Hot Springs
The Yumoto Onsen Hot Springs are a popular destination for those looking to unwind and relax in a traditional Japanese setting. The hot springs are located in the mountainside and offer stunning views of the surrounding scenery. The hot springs are known for their healing properties and are said to help alleviate a variety of ailments, including muscle pain, joint pain, and fatigue.
The Yumoto Onsen Hot Springs have a long history, dating back to the Edo period. The hot springs were discovered by a monk who was traveling through the area and noticed steam rising from the ground. The hot springs are now home to a variety of traditional Japanese inns, or ryokans, where visitors can stay and enjoy the hot springs.
Overall, Nikko is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and those looking to experience traditional Japanese culture. With its stunning natural landscapes and rich history, Nikko offers something for everyone.
Enjoy Outdoor Activities in Nikko
If you’re looking for some outdoor adventure, Nikko has plenty of options for you. Here are a few highlights:
Hike the Trails of Nikko National Park
Nikko National Park is a vast expanse of protected land that is home to numerous hiking trails. The park is located in the Tochigi Prefecture of Japan and is known for its beautiful landscapes and rich biodiversity. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll through the forests and mountains or tackle a more challenging ascent to a peak. The park is home to several peaks, including Mount Nikko-Shirane, which stands at 2,578 meters tall. The vistas from the top are often breathtaking, and the park is home to rich flora and fauna that makes for excellent wildlife spotting. Visitors can spot animals like the Japanese macaque, the Asian black bear, and the Japanese serow.
In addition to hiking, visitors can also enjoy other outdoor activities in Nikko National Park. The park is home to several waterfalls, including the Kegon Falls, which is one of the three most beautiful waterfalls in Japan. Visitors can also enjoy camping, picnicking, and birdwatching in the park.
Cruise on Lake Chuzenji
Lake Chuzenji is a stunning volcanic lake that is surrounded by mountains and is best explored by boat. The lake is located at an altitude of 1,269 meters and was formed by the eruption of Mount Nantai. Visitors can take a leisurely cruise around the lake and take in the stunning scenery from the water. The lake is also popular for fishing and kayaking. The lake is home to several species of fish, including rainbow trout and Japanese char. Visitors can rent a boat or kayak from one of the many rental shops around the lake.
In addition to boating, visitors can also enjoy hiking around the lake. The lake is surrounded by several hiking trails that offer stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. Visitors can also enjoy hot springs around the lake after a long day of hiking or boating.
Take a Scenic Ride on the Akechidaira Ropeway
The Akechidaira Ropeway is a cable car that takes visitors up to a scenic viewpoint overlooking the Irohazaka Winding Roads. The Irohazaka Winding Roads are a famous series of winding roads that lead up to the Nikko National Park. The roads are famous for their 48 hairpin turns and stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The views from the top of the Akechidaira Ropeway are stunning, and visitors can enjoy a meal or snack at the restaurant located there. The restaurant serves traditional Japanese food and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
In addition to the Akechidaira Ropeway, visitors can also enjoy other scenic drives in Nikko. The area is home to several scenic drives, including the Nikko Romantic Road, which offers stunning views of the Nikko National Park and the surrounding mountains. Visitors can also enjoy hiking and cycling in the area.
Overall, Nikko offers visitors a wide range of outdoor activities to enjoy. From hiking in the Nikko National Park to boating on Lake Chuzenji and taking a scenic ride on the Akechidaira Ropeway, there is something for everyone in Nikko. Visitors can also enjoy hot springs, traditional Japanese food, and stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Nikko is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves the outdoors and wants to experience the beauty of Japan’s natural landscapes.
Savor the Local Cuisine
No visit to Nikko is complete without indulging in the local cuisine. Nikko is known for its rich culinary traditions, and there are plenty of delicious dishes to try. From savory soups to sweet treats, here are a few things you won’t want to miss:
Try the Famous Yuba Dishes
Yuba is a traditional Japanese dish that is made from tofu skin. Nikko is famous for its high-quality yuba, which is prized for its delicate texture and rich flavor. Visitors can enjoy yuba in a variety of dishes, such as yuba soup, yuba sushi, and yuba sweets. For a truly authentic experience, head to a local yuba restaurant and try a multi-course yuba meal.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try making your own yuba. Many yuba shops offer workshops where you can learn how to make this traditional dish from scratch. It’s a fun and unique way to experience Nikko’s local culture.
Indulge in Traditional Japanese Sweets
Nikko is home to numerous traditional sweet shops that offer a variety of Japanese confections. Visitors can try wagashi, a type of sweet made from mochi, anko (sweet bean paste), and other flavorful ingredients. These sweets are often beautifully crafted and make great gifts to bring back home.
One popular sweet shop in Nikko is Shikishimaya. This family-owned business has been making wagashi for over 120 years and is known for its high-quality ingredients and exquisite craftsmanship. Make sure to try their signature sweet, the yuba manju, which is a steamed bun filled with sweet red bean paste and yuba.
Another must-visit sweet shop is Kikyouya. This shop specializes in yuba sweets and offers a variety of unique and delicious treats, such as yuba ice cream and yuba mochi. Their yuba roll cake, which is a light and fluffy sponge cake filled with yuba cream, is a particular favorite among locals and visitors alike.
Overall, Nikko’s local cuisine is a feast for the senses. From the rich flavors of yuba to the delicate sweetness of wagashi, there’s something for every palate to enjoy. So be sure to come hungry and ready to indulge in all that Nikko has to offer.
There you have it – 10 exciting things to do in Nikko, Japan. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, food, or outdoor adventure, Nikko has something for everyone. So pack your bags and head to this beautiful town for an unforgettable Japanese experience.