An unforgettable Nikko Day Journey from Tokyo

The historic shrines and temples of Nikko in Tochigi prefecture are a simple 2-hour prepare journey from Tokyo making a Nikko day journey a great strategy to expertise the historical past and pure fantastic thing about the area.  The historical past of the sacred UNESCO World Heritage website dates again to the eighth century and its setting throughout the densely forested mountains makes it a welcome respite from town.

Temple building in Nikko with intricate carving and gold overlay

Whereas the focus of shrines and temples is essentially the most extensively recognized attraction within the space there’s a lot extra to see and do in Nikko for those who can lengthen your keep just a little longer.  We’ve coated lots of the different choices for the broader area along with the place to eat, play and keep in our full Nikko information article.

The World Heritage website itself is very large and the main focus of a Nikko day journey itinerary. It’s made up of over 100 completely different buildings which are all listed as both Nationwide Treasures or vital cultural properties. Once you cease to think about the scale and scale of that you simply actually do want a full day on this a part of Nikko. 

Attending to the Nikko World Heritage space

Nikko is on our record of nice day journeys from Tokyo, it’s good for first time guests. You will get right here by prepare from town in underneath 2 hours and the principle sights are a comparatively straightforward 2 km stroll from the station or you’ll be able to take the brief bus journey as much as the World Heritage space.

Personally I like to recommend the bus as there’s quite a lot of climbing up and down mountain paths across the shrines and temples in the course of the day if you wish to see all of it and even the highlights.

Bus that covers the Nikko World Heritage area
The bus is straightforward to identify and meets the prepare arrivals and departures making it very handy.

There are 2 completely different prepare firms that run as much as Nikko from Tokyo, Japan Rail (JR) and Tobu. In case you have an energetic JR go you’ll be able to positively use it and journey by Japan Rail, in any other case I favor Tobu. It’s easier with no connection required between Tokyo and Nikko, it normally works out just a little sooner, and the station in Nikko is barely near the sights.

Nikko day journey utilizing Tobu trains

Asakusa in Tokyo is the hub for Tobu Railways, they’ve their very own station right here that’s straightforward to find from the subway station if you’re coming in from one other a part of Tokyo and there are a variety of retailers between the stations with a terrific 7-Eleven nearly reverse that has an unimaginable number of onigiri and different baked items and snacks for breakfast on the prepare if you’re headed off early.

Views of rice paddys from Tobu train on the way to Nikko
Rice fields considered from the prepare window on the way in which to Nikko

The direct prepare is the Tobu Restricted Categorical, Kegon and it takes 1 hour and 50 minutes from Asakusa at a price of Y2860 or Y5720. These trains are actually comfy seating, the configuration has 2 seats on both aspect of the aisle, baggage racks overhead, foot relaxation, fold down desk, drink bottle holder and journal pocket.

It can save you much more by utilizing the Nikko Cross World Heritage Space which incorporates the prepare from Asakusa to Nikko and the bus from the station across the Nikko Temples and Shrines World Heritage space. In case you are shopping for the go for today journey you will have the World Heritage not All Areas model, it’s fairly a bit cheaper as you aren’t paying to get out to the outer areas of Nikko that require a multi day journey just like the waterfalls, lakes, onsen and nationwide park.

Travelling by JR prepare to Nikko

The quickest JR choice takes the shinkansen (bullet prepare) from Tokyo to Utsunomiya station in Tochigi prefecture then change to the native JR Nikko line for the rest of the journey. From Tokyo station it ought to take simply on 2 hours together with switching trains and can price Y5880 a technique or Y11760 return. That’s 10 minutes longer, a bit extra fuss altering platforms and trains, and twice the worth of Tobu so we’d solely select this feature if we had an energetic JR go we wished to utilize.

In case you are uncertain what the JR Cross is, or whether or not it is best to get one, I’ve an article that covers whether or not a Japan Rail go is price it, together with the best way to use it and the best way to work out in your personal journey whether or not to take a position or not. Learn this before you purchase one, they are often superb, we’ve bought them many instances however NOT each time and too typically now I’ve heard of journey brokers promoting a go to first time guests once they simply aren’t good worth for his or her itinerary.

Shinkyo Bridge

The Shinkyo Bridge is the primary iconic sight from the world you’ll possible see as you make your means up from the station to the well-known shrines and temples of Nikko. You’ll go it whether or not you stroll up from the station or take the bus.

This bridge has been a crossing to the temples and shrines past since 1636 however it changed a crossing on the website that dates again even past that. It’s fairly a sight in all seasons however within the early summer time when it’s surrounded in lush greenery, the turquoise water beneath nonetheless icy chilly, it’s significantly putting.

Shinkyo Bridge, Nikko

Whilst you can stroll throughout the heritage bridge for a small payment and maybe really feel what it was prefer to stroll within the footsteps of feudal lords and samurai a whole bunch of years earlier than, it’s higher considered from the site visitors and foot bridge that runs parallel to it simply 50 metres additional down the river.

In case you have the Tobu Cross or an all day bus ticket the Shinkyo bridge cease is a simple one to seek out if you find yourself prepared to go again to the station or proceed additional on. It’s conveniently situated near the temples and shrines on one aspect and a few fascinating outlets and lunch spots simply barely additional down the road on the opposite.

The shrines and temples of Nikko

These are on no account all of the shrines and temples in Nikko, what it refers to is the UNESCO World Heritage itemizing for the positioning together with the vital historic property inside a confined geographical space, for simplicity known as the Nikko World Heritage website or the Shrines and Temples of Nikko.

We first visited Nikko independently throughout spring in 2010 and liked the pure magnificence, historical past and serenity.  I’ve been again a few instances over time and the photographs you’ll see listed here are from completely different journeys, for those who picked up on a seasonal distinction from the remnants of snow to lush inexperienced summer time foliage, that’s the explanation.

Tickets are required to enter every of the temple areas and aren’t coated throughout the Tobu passes, the charges individually are small however it may be a bit complicated as there are some combos obtainable if you realize the place you may be going which are barely cheaper than shopping for seperate tickets. There doesn’t seem like a single ticket for all of the temples, shrines and mausoleums.

Nikko Rinno-ji Temple

You’ll normally begin to discover the world from Rinnoji Temple, that is the one closest to the bridge if you’re strolling and the primary cease throughout the temples space if you’re coming in on the bus. Maybe you also needs to begin right here as it’s the basis of all of the temples within the space being based by Shodo Shonin, the Buddhist monk who launched Buddhism to Nikko within the eighth century.

Sanbutsudo Hall at Rinnoji temple in Nikko
Sanbutsudo Corridor at Rinno-ji Temple

The principle corridor at Rinnoji is the Sanbutsudo Corridor, these hoardings across the constructing have been a well-recognized website with a renovation on the corridor taking one of the best a part of a decade to finish however they have been completed in July 2019.

The corridor homes a set of three giant wood statues lacquered in gold, certainly one of Amida Buddha (Amitābha), Senju-Kannon who’s depicted with 1000 arms and Bato-Kannon who’s depicted with a horse head. Kannon in Tibetan Buddhism is Avalokiteshvara, Goddess of mercy. Right here the three deities collectively are thought to be Buddhist manifestations of Nikko’s three mountain gods enshrined at Futarasan Shrine.

Different vital points of Rinnoji are the treasure home and Shoyoen backyard that are visited collectively underneath a separate entry ticket to the remainder of the temple (Y300) or mixed with the principle corridor entry. We’ve been via the backyard in spring however it’s best recognized for autumn leaves viewing in early November.

Nikko Toshogu Shrine

Toshogu Shrine is the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, founding father of the Tokugawa Shogunate that dominated over Japan for 250 years till the Meiji Restoration in 1868 when energy was returned to the Emperor. Ieyasu was entombed at Toshogu in 1617 however the complicated was considerably enlarged and enhanced by his Grandson, Iemitsu, within the early seventeenth century.

The flowery ornament seen right here is uncommon in Japan and as Buddhism and Shinto weren’t separated till the Meiji Restoration you will notice components of each all through the complicated. For historic curiosity, the sheer scale, pure magnificence and design that is one you’ll want to allocate a good period of time to. There are numerous particular person areas as you progress via the shine grounds and wind your means up via the hillside forest.

The 5-story pagoda Toshogu Gojunoto

The extremely ornate and immaculately maintained pagoda that stands right here at this time was inbuilt 1818 by Sakai Tadayuki and is now listed as an vital cultural property. The unique pagoda was constructed to enshrine Tokugawa Ieyasu, the primary Tokugawa shogun and was devoted in 1648, it stood right here till destroyed by hearth in 1815.

Ornate historic pagoda in Nikko

Like the remainder of the Toshogu Shrine, it’s much more ornate than usually seen in pagodas and temple buildings throughout Japan. The one different place I’ve seen the same stage of intricate element and color, on a a lot smaller scale, is at Yakuo-in on Mt Takao the place a few of the temple buildings behind the principle corridor have similarities. Takao is one other nice day journey for those who prefer to spend a while in nature not too removed from town.

Nikko Futarasan Shrine

Make your strategy to Futarasan Jinja (shrine) alongside the cedar hall that begins close to the 5-story pagoda at Toshogu. You’ll really feel dwarfed by the big and majestic cedars that tower above you as you stroll via to the shrine and Taiyuin past that.

Futarasan Shrine

It is a a lot older complicated than Toshogu, it was based in 782 by Shodo Shonin, the identical Buddhist monk that based Rinnoji Temple. Entry is free to a lot of the shrine grounds and the Shinkyo Bridge seen on the way in which as much as the temples and a couple of 1-kilometre stroll away additionally belongs to this shrine.

Futarasan is one other title for Mt Nantai a volcanic peak within the Nikko Nationwide Park, the shrine is devoted to the deities of three vital mountains within the space, Mt Nantai, Mount Nyoho and Mount Taro.


Taiyuin is the mausoleum of Tokugawa Iemitsu, grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founding father of the Tokugawa Shogunate. You is likely to be tempted to skip it if you’re drained after a day in your ft or prepared for lunch however don’t, whereas it’s true that in correct respect for Ieyasu it was constructed to be extra modest it’s nonetheless an unimaginable website housing 22 registered Nationwide Treasures, a lavishly ornate prayer corridor and distinctive craftsmanship.

Taiyuin Shrine

You should buy the ticket individually for this one or it may be bought as a mixed ticket with Sanbutsudo at Rinno-Ji.

Kanmanguifuchi Abyss

In case you have heard of Kanmanguifuchi Abyss it was most likely alongside a photograph just like the one I’ve taken beneath. These Jizo statues signify the guardian deity of kids and travellers however they’re difficult too, rely them as you go in and as you return out, everybody comes up with a special quantity.

Kanmangufuchi Abyss

The Abyss or gully has a river operating to the appropriate of the trail on this picture and hills rising up on either side making it damp and funky, the proper atmosphere for moss rising on the numerous stone statues, steps and retaining partitions.

The river itself isn’t huge however is turbulent in components because it winds via the underside of the gorge. The sounds of the dashing water mixed with the fowl music and cicadas in summer time are very soothing. We handed a monk from the temple however nobody else on the trail once we visited including to the attraction of the spot.

A Nikko day journey is a unbelievable inclusion on an itinerary and fairly straightforward to do from a base in Tokyo however the much less visited mountainous space of Okunikko is price extending for an evening or two for those who can. This provides you with time to get out to sights comparable to Kegon Falls, Lake Chuzenji, Edo Wonderland or Kinugawa onsen. You’ll discover extra in regards to the sights, the best way to get round and the place to remain within the wider space in our complete Nikko guests information.

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