Nikko Japan is a place full of history and traditional treasures. It is a place that one must visit during their stay in Japan as it not only holds some of the most famous temples but also offers beautiful natural scenery in the spring and autumn with its big mountains. Therefore, Nikko Japan is a popular place to visit not only among foreigners but also among Japanese people.
If you wish to visit this city, this article should help you get you ready for your trip! Here are all the things you need to know before your trip to Nikko Japan.
Nikko Japan – How to get there?
By Limited Express Train: From Shinjuku station, there is a special train operated by both JR and Tobu Railway. This train takes around 2 hours one-way and requires prior reservation. If you wish to take this option you can make reservations here.
Cost: ¥4,000 one-way
By Shinkansen: From Tokyo station, you can take the JR Tohoku Shinkansen to Utsunomiya station. Then, transfer to the JR Nikko Line to get to Nikko. This particular route can get you to Nikko at a minimum of 1.5 hours, but costs a little more than the other options. Hence, if you have a JR pass, you might be able to save a couple of bucks with this option.
Cost: Around ¥5,500 one-way
Shinkansen is included in the JR Pass, check how to get one.
By Tobu Railway: If you go to Asakusa station, there is a special limited express train that runs every other hour to Tobu-Nikko Station. This is one of the more direct routes to take. The whole ride takes around 2 hours one-way using this express train.
Cost: ¥2,700-¥2,800 one-way
Nikko Pass: There is a lot to see and do in Nikko and to get the most out of your visit we recommend the Nikko Pass. This travel pass, valid for 4 days (3 nights and 4 days), includes the following:
– a round-trip from Asakusa station to Shimo-Imaichi station
– all Tobu bus lines in Nikko, Nikko Edamura shuttle bus, Nikko-Kinugawa onsen bus, Hybrid bus (Odashirogahara area access bus)
– Lake Chuzenji sightseeing cruise
– Akechidaira Ropeway
– all Tobu Railway lines between the stations Shimo-Imaichi, Tobu-Nikko and Shin-Fujiwara
For bus information and the route map, please check the Nikko bus page here.
With your Nikko Pass, look for the Nikko Pass logo and receive discount at the following facilities:
– tourist facilities and rides
– food & beverages
– souvenir shops
– Spacia, Revaty and Kirifuri limited express trains
*note: entrance fees to Nikko shrines and temples are not included.
Cost: April 20 – November 30, adult ¥4,520 / child ¥1,150
December 1 – April 19, adult ¥4,150 / child ¥1,040
For more information and purchase please visit the Nikko Pass webpage.
Nikko Japan – Where to stay?
Guesthouse: Turtle Inn Nikko
Why Guests Love It: Located near several popular sites and within nature, English speaking staff available, low-priced ratings, peaceful environment
Price: From ¥4,000 per night
Official Website: Turtle Inn Nikko
Hotel: Nikko Kanaya Hotel
Why Guests Love It: Free shuttle bus available from Tobu Nikko Station to Hotel, mix of Western and Japanese architecture and culture, near popular shrines, one of the oldest hotels in Japan (founded in 1873).
Price: From ¥20,000 per night for 2 adults
Official Website: Nikko Kanaya Hotel
Ryokan: Nikko Hoshinoyado
Why Guests Love It: Old Japanese style hotel, beautiful natural scenery and surroundings, fine Japanese dining or Washoku, onsen available
Price: From ¥13,500 per person
Official Website: Nikko Hoshinoyado
Nikko Japan #1: Cross the Shinkyo Bridge
The Shinkyo Bridge is one of Nikko’s most popular sites. Although it is just a bridge, it holds a lot of significance due to its history. Since it connects most shrines and temples in the area, many people in the past have used it to commute from one place to the other. The current Shinkyo bridge was constructed on 1636 and is one of Japan’s top 3 bridges. However, it went through renovation in the 1990’s due to its poor state but now it is possible to cross the bridge for a small fee.
Access: Go to JR Nikko station or Tobu Nikko station and take the bus to Shinkyo which gets you there in 5 min. for ¥200. You can also walk from the station to the bridge within 20-30 minutes.
Hours: 8am – 5pm (April – September), 8am – 4pm (October – mid November) 9am – 4pm (mid November – March)
Cost: ¥300 for admission
Nikko Japan #2: Visit Toshogu Shrine
The Toshogu Shrine is probably one of the most popular shrines in all of Japan due to its history and architecture. This shrine is the resting place of the famous Japanese figure, Tokugawa Ieyasu. He was the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, one of Japan’s most powerful military governments in history. Also, you might notice that there is a mix of Shinto and Buddhist elements at this shrine. Due to the mixture of both religions, which was not unheard of throughout history, you can see a lot of different elements at Toshogu rarely seen at other shrines or temples.
One of the top reasons why this shrine is so popular is because of its architecture. Boasting 55 buildings, each in its own style and most featuring little carvings that make it unique. The most famous carving is the one of the three monkeys depicting the proverb “speak no evil, see no evil, and hear no evil”.
Access: Take the bus from JR / Tobu Nikko station which takes around 10 minutes. The cost for a one-way ride is ¥310 or you can buy a ¥500 day pass that allows you to use Nikko’s local buses without extra fees.
Hours: 8am – 5pm (the shrine closes at 4pm from November till March)
Cost: shrine only ¥1300, museum only ¥1000, shrine and museum ¥2100
Nikko Japan #3: Visit Taiyuinbyo
This shrine is the resting place of Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third Tokugawa shogun. He helped build this shrine, and you might notice it has a similar vibe as Toshogu shrine, however Iemitsu made it a little more modest. Therefore, it’s less extravagant in colors and carvings. Despite this however, it is still popular due to its architecture and history.
Access: Located near the Toshogu Shrine, you can also take the bus to Taiyuinbyo from Nikko Station for ¥310 or ¥500 with the day pass.
Hours: 8am to 5pm (the shrine closes at 4pm from November till March)
Cost: ¥550 for admission
Nikko Japan #4: Visit Rinnoji Temple
The Rinnoji Temple is Nikko Japan’s most important Buddhist temple as it was founded by Shodo Shonin in 766. He was the buddhist monk who first introduced Buddhism to Nikko, creating a big impact on religion and politics in history.
This temple also has some carvings, the most popular one being the three big buddhas in San Butsudo Hall. It also has a garden that is most popular during autumn due to the changing colors of the trees.
Access: 10 min. bus ride from Nikko station for ¥310 or ¥500 with the day pass.
Hours: 8am to 5pm (the shrine closes at 4pm from November till March)
Cost: Sanbutsu Do ¥400, Treasure House and Shoyoen Garden ¥300
Nikko Japan #5: Go See The Kegon Waterfall
The Kegon Waterfall is a must-see site for any visitor of Japan as it is Nikko’s most beautiful waterfall. It is also considered to be one of Japan’s top waterfalls. At almost 100 meters tall, it is the only place where water from Lake Chuzenji can exit from. It is also an extremely popular site in the autumn as the waterfall is surrounded by trees from the mountain. Hence, it makes a picturesque scenery with the changing autumn colors.
Access: From Nikko Station, you can take a 50 min. bus ride to Chuzenjiko Onsen for ¥1150. Once you get off at the Onsen it’s a short walk towards the waterfall.
Hours: 8am-5pm (March – April and November), 7:30am-6pm (May-September), 7:30am-5pm (October), 9am-4:30pm (December-March)
Cost: ¥550 for admission
Nikko Japan #6: Lake Chuzenji
Lake Chuzenji is located at the bottom of Mountain Nantai, which is one of Nikko’s volcanos. In the past, one of its eruptions helped form the lake, which has now become one of Nikko’s valued sites. Due to its location in the middle of the mountains, it is most popular to visit during the autumn season allowing you to enjoy the different colors of the trees surrounding the big lake.
Access: From Nikko station, you can take a base bound to Chuzenji Onsen for ¥1150. From there you can get a great view of the lake.
Hours: 24 Hours
Nikko Japan #7: Ryuzu Waterfall
The Ryuzu waterfall is another popular waterfall at Nikko, although not as popular as Kegon. One of the special traits of this waterfall is the shape of it. The name Ryuzu in kanji literally means dragon head. Therefore, the waterfall was named Ryuzu to signify the waterfall’s shape which looks like a dragon’s head. Also, this is another popular place to visit during the autumn as this waterfall is even more inundated within trees. Hence, the changing colors create a beautiful landscape that should not be missed!
Access: From Nikko Station, take the bus bound for Yumoto Onsen and get off at Ryuzu no Taki. In total, this ride takes nearly an hour and costs ¥1400.
Hours: 24 Hours
Nikko Japan #8: Relax At An Onsen In Yumoto
Yumoto is a small onsen town located in Okunikko. Therefore, you can relax here and enjoy the natural scenery as this town is very quiet and has no tall buildings. Also, the hot water in Yumoto is filled with sulfur, hence giving the water a milky color and making the skin unbelievably smooth. In the winter, this place is also popular as it is close to the mountains and some people come here to ski. Onsen is a part of the Japanese culture, learn how to behave in an onsen.
Address: Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1662
Access: You can take a bus bound for Yumoto Onsen at Nikko station. These rides take nearly an hour and cost about ¥2000.
Hours: Depending on the onsen.
Cost: Depending on the onsen, but prices generally start at ¥500.
Nikko Japan #9: Sightseeing at Akechidaira Plateau
If you wish to see Nikko Japan from afar and take in its beautiful nature then you must go to Akechidaira Plateau. It is located near the top of Irohazaka Winding Road where you can view Lake Chuzenjiko and ride the ropeway on the way up. This place can become really crowded in the autumn season due to the changing colors of the trees, so make sure to plan ahead if you can!
Access: Take the bus from Nikko station to Chuzenjiko or Yumoto Onsen. Then get off at Akechidaira and you’ll find the entrance to the ropeway nearby. The bus ride costs ¥1100 and takes around 35 min.
Hours: 9am – 4pm (ropeway)
Cost: ropeway ¥400 (one way), ¥730 (round trip)
Nikko Japan #10: Eat Yuba
Although Nikko is mostly known for its nature and shrines, one its popular dishes is Yuba. Yuba is tofu skin and has a different texture from other kinds of tofu. This dish is really popular due to the many buddhists that lived in this area. Their vegetarian diet made it impossible to eat meat, therefore this vegetarian dish was one of the most eaten dishes. If you get to visit Nikko you should try some Yuba as it has a distinct texture and taste unlike normal tofu.
Listed below are some popular restaurants in Nikko that specialize in Yuba.
Hours: 11am – 7pm (closed on Thursdays)
Cost: ¥960- ¥1800
Website: Sun Field
Hours: 11am – 3pm (closed on Thursdays)
Cost: Over ¥4000 for course meal
Website: Yabutei Masudaya
As you can see, Nikko Japan has its own charm, different from Tokyo or Osaka. It is filled with history and tradition with its many temples and shrines. It is also a great place for relaxation as it is surrounded by nature and quiet. Hence, if you are looking for a place to escape the city or wish to witness some of Japan’s most beautiful temples, Nikko is the place to go! It is most popular to go during the autumn season due to the changing colors of the trees, but be careful as it can get really crowded. However, whenever you do go I am sure you will enjoy all that Nikko Japan has to offer.
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Song Y Yoon
Originally from South Korea, I moved to Japan for university and have come to love the Japanese culture. Other things I love are photography, reading, listening to music, and food. Especially food 😉