A Short Visit to Nikko

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A Short Visit to Nikko
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Tags: destinationsgourmethistorialsiteskantonaturenikkoshoppingshrinestemplestochigi

Nikko is a small town that leads to Nikko National Park. It’s a picturesque place complete with Japan’s most astonishing shrine and a scenic lake. The best time to visit this place is during autumn to see the koyo leaves. I was there in late September when it was barely even autumn and I saw a few trees that turned red. It was pretty but it is still better to come during October to see autumn leaves at its peak.

Travelling to Nikko from Tokyo on the railway is not cheap. However, you can save cost by getting the tourist pass which gives you unlimited ride to all places of attractions. There are a few passes available such as Nikko All Area Pass (a four-day pass that covers a wide area from World Heritage shrines and temples to Lake Chuzenji, Okunikko area and Kinugawa Onsen), Nikko City Pass (a two-day pass which covers only the World Heritage Shrine area and Kinugawa Onsen) and Theme Park & Nikko City Area Pass. Choose your pass wisely based on your needs.

I got myself the Nikko All Area Pass from Tobu Tourist Information Center Asakusa which covers the return transport from Asakusa to Nikko that comes with the unlimited bus ride around Nikko area. I also topped up for Limited Express SPACIA at a discounted rate (20% off). Travelling by the Limited Express SPACIA takes only 110 minutes or almost two hours from Asakusa to Nikko.

I recommend you to top up for the limited express SPACIA as the seat is more spacious and comfortable. Also, the travel time is shorter compared to express and local trains, and it is a direct route that leads you right to the destination without any transfer.

Getting here from Asakusa

Take the Tobu Railway from Tobu-Asakusa station (about 3-minute walk from exit A3 Asakusa subway station). The journey takes about 110 minutes on limited express SPACIA train which leads you to Tobu Nikko Station on the Tobu Skytree Line.

Now, let’s check out what I did in Nikko


1. See the beautiful Kegon Falls and Lake Chuzenji from the Akechidaira Plateau 明智平

Located near the ascending Irohazaka Winding Road, Akechidaira Plateau is where the station of Akechidaira Ropeway is located. Take the 3-minute tiny ropeway up to reach the observatory platform. You may get the picturesque view of both Kegon fall and Lake Chuzenji from here.

Getting Here
Take Tobu Bus bound for Chuzenji Onsen or Yumoto Onsen from Tobu Nikko Station and get off at Bus Stop #24 Akechidaira.

Ropeway Fee | ¥730 for round trip (¥660 for round trip with Nikko All Area Pass)
Opening Hours | 9 AM to 6 PM


2. Try out local delicacies – Yuba ゆば

Yuba is made from the thin layer of skin that forms at the top when soy milk is heated up. In Tochigi Prefecture, you get to see everything made from Yuba. There are yuba ramen, yuba soba, yuba sushi, deep-fried yuba and so on. It is nevertheless delicious. There is this thing called Yuba Sashimi which I fancy. It is basically the sliced fresh silky smooth tofu skin. It is simply yummy with some garnish of wasabi and homemade fermented soybean paste. I had mine in the humble Masuyaajidokoro restaurant桝屋ますや味処 which is located just a stone throw away from Chuzenji Temple.


3. Zen in Chuzenji Temple 中禅寺

Located on the eastern side of Lake Chuzenji, this temple was built 1300 years ago. Chuzenji Temple’s main object of worship is a six-meter tall statue of a thousand arms Kannon – the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. The statue was carved from a standing tree during the Nara period by a monk, Shodo Shonin, who established the Chuzenji Temple. Photography is prohibited inside the hall.

Getting Here
Take the Tobu Bus bound for Chuzenji Onsen or Yumoto Onsen from Tobu Nikko Station and get off at Bus Stop #27 Tachikikannon Iriguchi. Alternatively, it is about 20 minutes’ walk from Bus Stop #26 Chuzenji Onsen

Entrance Fee | ¥500


4. Mesmerize the amazing Lake Chuzenji 中禅寺湖

Located at the foot of Mount Nantai and listed as one of the most beautiful landscapes in Japan, Lake Chuzenji is a lake in the mountains above the town of Nikko. This lake is 1269 metres above sea level and it sits on an altitude higher than any other lake in Japan.

Getting Here
Take the Tobu Bus bound for Chuzenji Onsen or Yumoto Onsen from Tobu Nikko Station. It is approximately 5-minute walk from Bus Stop #26 Chuzenji Onsen.


5. See the majestic Kegon Falls 華厳の滝

This is a must-see in Oku-Nikko. It is one of the three famous waterfalls in Nikko. This waterfall is located near Lake Chuzenji and it is the only place where the water from Lake Chuzenji can exit. There is a special elevator that takes you down to the viewing platform, which is facing the base of the waterfall. You will be able to hear and feel the roar of water plunging down from 97 meters high above. Do take note that the elevator ride comes at a fee.

Getting Here
Take the Tobu Bus bound for Chuzenji Onsen or Yumoto Onsen from Tobu Nikko Station. It is about a 5-minute walk from Bus Stop #26 Chuzenji Onsen.

Top part of the observatory: Free of charge
Elevator Fee | ¥550


6. Visit the World Heritage Shrine

Founded in 1617, Nikko Toshogu Shrine 日光東照宮 worships the Edo Shogunate founder Tokugawa Ieyasu as a god. Do spend some time to observe the buildings in detail. On the shrine, there are over 500 carvings of monkey, dragon, lion, cat, phoenix and other animals. The craftsmanship and the colours of the cravings are amazing.

The two-storey Yomei-mon Gate is decorated with brilliant colours. It is also known as Higurashi-mon or the sunset gate because people will spend the day long gazing at its beauty.

In the Shinkyusha, which is the sacred stable for the horses serving god, there is a series of eight carved boards on which the life of a monkey is illustrated (from birth to pregnancy), caricaturing the human life. The Three Monkey carving is famous for the “see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil” poses. The carving illustrates monkey covering their eyes, ears and mouth.

I made my way to the Honjido Hall which features the Crying Dragon. There is a large painting of dragon on the ceiling of the hall, and when two pieces of wood are clapped directly under its head, you could hear the bright roaring sound due to the acoustic of the hall.

Getting Here
Take the Tobu World Heritage Sightseeing Bus from the Tobu Nikko Station. It is about 3 minutes’ walk from Bus Stop #83 Omotesando.

Entrance Fee | ¥ 1,300


7. Gather positive ions at Omotesando

This is the walking hill heading towards the world heritage. It was filled with lots of greeneries along the way.


8. Splurge on your stay in an onsen hotel

This comes with hot spring bath, kaiseki course dinner, breakfast, and the most comfortable futon beds on the tatami floor. My best pick of onsen hotel is Hotel Nikko Green Fuwari Natsukashiya, which is the facing Lake Kawaguchi. This is the second best hotel among the few that I have stayed in. I highly recommend this place as the kaiseki course meal was really awesome and the accommodation and onsen bath was great. Moreover, it is located quite near to the town.

Getting Here
About 5 minutes’ walk from Bus Stop #11 Nikko Tomazawa Goyotei Kinenkoen.

Hotel Nikko Green Fuwari Natsukashiya
Address | 9 Honcho, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1434, Japan


9. Shinkyo Bridge 神橋

This bridge is also known as the sacred bridge. It stands at the entrance to Nikko’s shrines and temples. It is ranked as one of the Japan’s three finest bridges.


10. Make a wish and send it flying towards Mt. Nantai from Shinkyo Bridge 神橋

At the entrance of Hashihime Shrine which leads to the Shinkyo Bridge, you can pick up a Hikoki or a paper plane, at ¥100 and write your wish on the wings. Go over to the Hashihime Shrine, stand at the centre of Shinkyo Bridge, and send it flying towards the direction of Mount Nantai, facing upstream. It is said that if wings are open above the water surface when you make your wish, it will reach the god of the mountain.

Getting Here
Located at Bus Stop #7 Shinkyo.

Entrance Fee | ¥300


11. Spoil yourself with the Nikko castella

Made with the finest ingredients such as acacia honey and syrup made from quality glutinous rice of Kyushu, Nikko castella sponge cake is topped with gold leaf and is a great souvenir to bring home. I tried the honey and matcha flavour and it was airy and flurry. The matcha flavour was just nice but the honey was slightly on the sweeter side. One way that you can reduce the sweetness is to pair it with black coffee. There is black coffee available for patrons who enjoy having their cake here.

 

Nikko Castella Honpo Honten 日光カステラ本舗本店
Address | Yubinbango 321-1434 Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, Honcho
Telephone | (+81) 0288-53-6171


12. Slurp the Tonyu Ramen

Delicious ramen in a pool of soybean milk broth and topped with Nama Yuba.

Asaya Resthouse あさやレストハウス
Address | 1111 Uebaishi Town Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1401, Japan


13. Stroll along the shopping street

Don’t forget to do your shopping and grab your some souvenirs here.


14. Remember to send some greetings from Nikko

Ivy Chang
Ivy Chang
A girl who has wanderlust and love travel very much. She deeply falls in love with Japan ever since she stepped onto the "land of rising sun" in year 2002. She always wishes to explore more about Japan; the beauty of its art and culture, people and spirit, food and language. She finds that every prefecture in Japan is very unique and different from one another and always has a dream to visit all 47 prefectures in Japan.

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