Nikko is a city in the mountains of Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. It lies approx 140km north of Tokyo and is the capital of Tochigi Prefecture. It remains a popular destination for Japanese and international tourists, and was personally always my favourite place to visit. Nikko is the entrance to Nikko National Park and had been a center of Shinto and Buddhist mountain worship for many centuries. Nikko National Park continues to offer scenic, mountainous landscapes, lakes, waterfalls, hot springs, wild monkeys and hiking trails.
For any other information on Nikko, visit the Nikko Tourist Association:
Futarasan Shrine (and bridge)
Futarasan Shrine was founded in 782 by Shodo Shonin, a Buddhist monk who introduced Buddhism to Nikko and who also founded Rinnoji Temple, which is nearby. Futarasan Shrine is dedicated to the Shinto gods of Nikko’s three most sacred mountains – Mt. Nantai, Mt. Nyoho and Mt. Taro. Two more Futarasan Shrines stand at the shore of Lake Chuzenji and on the summit of Mount Nantai.
The Toshogu is the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa shogunate, which ruled Japan for over 250 years until 1868. The shrine is dedicated to the spirits of Ieyasu and two other of Japan’s most influential historical personalities, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Minamoto Yoritomo. The shrine complex consists of more than a dozen buildings set in the forest. Initially a simple mausoleum, Toshogu was enlarged into the spectacular complex seen today by Ieyasu’s grandson Iemitsu during the first half of the 17th century.
Tobu World Square
Tobu World Square is a theme park located just outside of Nikko, in Kinugawa Onsen. The park consists of 102 miniature reproductions of historical relics and buildings, built to 1/25th of their original sizes. Something amazing about the park miniatures is the fact that they look identical to the originals. There are also over 140,000 miniature people, all individual. You would not find any duplicates.
For more information or to visit: http://www.tobuws.co.jp/default_en.html
Kegon Falls is located at Lake Chuzenji in Nikko National Park. The falls were formed when the Daiya River was rerouted by lava flows. There are about a dozen smaller waterfalls located behind Kegon, leaking through the many cracks in the mountain. To see, you descend into the depths of the mountain via an elevator, which opens up onto a viewing platform right in front of the waterfall.
Lake Chuzenji is located at the foot of Mt Nantai (a sacred volcano in Nikko, pictured below), whose eruption blocked the valley below about 20,000 years ago, thereby creating the lake we have today. It is possible to hike around the entire 25 kilometer circumference of the lake via mountainous walking trails. Otherwise, the lake can be enjoyed from sightseeing boats that depart from Chuzenjiko Onsen. Views from above are possible from along the Chuzenjiko Skyline, an 8km long road.
Mt. Nantai is literally “manly mountain”. At its base sits Lake Chuzenji. It stands at 2,486m high. This stratovolcano is also referred to as Futara-san. On a clear day, it can be seen from as far as 100km away. It remains popular with hikers, although the mountain is still classified as “active”, due to an eruption approx 7000 years ago. Of course, due to the fact it has not erupted in 7000 years, there’s not really much to worry about.
Kanmangafuchi Abyss was formed when nearby Mt Nantai erupted, and the lava flow formed today’s gorge. The gorge has a scenic walking trail right next to the river Daiya-gawa. Kanmangafuchi is also known for its row of about 70 stone statues of Jizo, a Bodhisattva (a person who is able to reach nirvana but delays doing so out of compassion in order to save suffering beings), who cares for the deceased. The statues look out over the river and across to the Nikko Botanical Gardens.
A wonderful hotel for seeing all the attractions listed in Nikko is the Turtle Inn. It is relatively cheap accommodation, owned and operated by a family. It has an accompanying restaurant just down the street and is a great traditional ryokan. Staff speak English too! Kanmangafuchi Abyss is practically right behind the hotel. There are two parts to the hotel, the two being at different locations, so just be aware of the differences when selecting a room.
To visit the website, check for rates or book: http://www.turtle-nikko.com/
Any questions? Pop over to the ‘Contact’ page! 四季