Located in Tochigi prefecture, Nikko is a city that has much to offer to its visitors with its long list of local attractions. Here is a short consolidated list of 8 reasons why one should visit Nikko on your trip to Japan!
1. Kegon Falls
Kegon no Taki (Kegon Falls) is one of Japan’s best waterfalls and also the one nearest from Tokyo. The almost 100 metres (328 feet) high Kegon Waterfall is renowned as one of Nikko’s most beautiful waterfalls, among many others. Travellers have noted that Kegon Falls was the “star natural attraction of the UNSECO World heritage-laced town and area of Nikko” (World of Waterfalls). Free viewing decks are available near the site for tourists to capture a full view of the magnificent scenery before taking the elevator down to the lower levels of viewing decks for a more frontal view of the waterfall. This elevator ride, however, will require payment. Surrounded by luscious greenery in spring and summer, autumn hues in fall and a blanket of snowy white in winter, Kegon Falls is picturesque in all seasons. Nikko, therefore, offers a magnificent and sublime view of nature for people, and those who wish to take a day off from city life to be closer with nature.
2. Cluster of spiritual places
Nikko offers a number of shrines and temples for visitors who are curious about local religion in Japan. Besides the Nikko Toshogu, Nikko is also home to the Futarasan Shrine and Rinno-ji. The three temples are collectively known as the Shrines and Temples of Nikko and are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Futarasan Shrine also houses two swords that are the National Treasures of Japan. Meanwhile in Rinno-ji, one of the most famous buildings is the Three Buddha Hall. Most visitors go to all three temples on their trips. It is important to note that Shrines in Japan suggest affiliations to Shintoism, while Temples or -ji are associated with Buddhism.
3. House of Samurai Tokugawa Family - Spiritual spot Nikko Toshogu
Japan is famed for its various spiritual spots that dot the island. These spots are believed to enhance life energy, and both purify and relax the body. Nikko’s Toshogu Shrine is one of the places known for being a spiritual or power spot in Japan. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Toshogu was dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu, and was where he was enshrined. Admission is 1300 JPY (12.50 USD) per adult and senior high school student, 450 JPY (4.30 USD) for elementary and junior high school student. Additional fees are required for Museum and Treasure Museum History.
Another spot famous in the Toshogu shrine is The Three Wise Monkeys maxim, which embodies the proverbial principle “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”. While there are various meanings ascribed to the monkeys, the Buddhist implications generally suggest for one not to dwell on evil thoughts.
In terms of its aesthetic, historical, philosophical and religious significance, Toshogu is a must-go for travellers. For the curious minds who seek to learn on your trip to Japan, the spiritual spots in Nikko will be a good place to start your learning journey.
4. The steps to heaven
Kirifuri Highland Kisuge-daira Park is a beautiful field of different flowers throughout the seasons. Located 8 kilometres (5 miles) north of Nikko city at altitudes between 1300 (4265 feet) to 1600 metres (5249 feet), visitors can expect to also meet the Tenku Kairoor, the corridor in the sky. The 1445-step stairway offers visitors the opportunity to make their way leisurely up the highland to capture the view of nikkokisuge flowers that paint the highland in a sea of yellow between June to mid-July. On a clear day, visitors can capture a panoramic view of the Kanto Plain, Mount Fuji, Tokyo Skytree and even the Pacific Ocean from the peak. What’s even better, is that you enjoy clean air along with a travelling plan that is both healthy and memorable.
5. Shaved ice made from natural spring water
Nikko has 3 of the 5 icehouses that currently exist all over Japan. These shaved ice are taken from Nikko’s natural spring water, frozen naturally by the natural cold air, it just can’t get any more natural than this! As a result, the produced ice is very soft and does not cause brain freezing when you gobble it down. Each shop has its own specialty flavour, like ujikintoki with maccha (powdered green tea), syrup and an(red bean paste) on top, and standard ones with strawberry or melon syrup. Try all the different flavours as you stop by every shop for one!
Located at an altitude of 1400 metres (4593 feet) above sea level, the Senjohagara Marshland covers the plateau between Lake Chuzenji and Yumoto Onsen. It offers one of the best hiking spots in Nikko National Park and is especially beautiful during the autumn when the marshland’s grasses turn into a reddish yellow while the larch trees into shiny gold. “Senjogahara” translates to battlefield and here it refers to a mythical one where legend states that the gods of Mount Nantai and Mount Akagi fought to claim the neighbouring lakes as their own. Taking on the incarnation of a serpent and centipede respectively, they fought and intertwined repeatedly, which resulted in this marshland. See and decide for yourself if the place really is like a battlefield of the gods.
7. Extremely clean and fresh air at Lake Chuzenji
A scenic lake in Nikko National Park, Lake Chuzenji was created 20,000 years ago when Mount Nantai erupted and blocked the river. Especially beautiful during the autumn, Lake Chuzenji is an extremely picturesque place, with almost any picture taken accompanied by the once sacred mountain Nantai in the background. During Japan’s hot summers, the lake’s high elevation keeps the area cool and comfortable, attracting many to choose this lake for a summer retreat.
8. Hot springs
If you go to Nikko, you should definitely not miss going to the hot springs. Kinugawa Onsen is an extremely popular hot spring destination in the Tochigi Prefecture. The clear, mild waters that flow from the area’s hot springs have been in use since the Edo Period, and you can experience it at Kinugawa Onsen’s ryokans and public baths.
Let's go to Nikko!
The list only shows a small proportion of the many attractions in this beautiful region. Regardless of whether you want an adventurous, fun-filled holiday, or a chill retreat to rest your soul, Nikko will be able to offer you its unique charms. Nikko ikkou! (Let’s go Nikko!)
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