Nestled in the mountains to the north of Tokyo, Nikko features elaborate shrines and temples that display the power of the Tokugawa shogunate. It’s also renowned for towering cedar forests, ancient stone statues and one of Japan’s most iconic bridges.
Things to do in Nikkō
Visit the three main temples of Nikko, which include Tōshōgū, Rinno-ji and Futarasan, all designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Housing the mausoleums of the Tokugawa Shoguns, they feature elaborate ornamentations and multicolored carvings.
The temples are separated from the town of Nikko by the famous Shinkyō red bridge, which gracefully spans the Daiya River. It is considered one of the most beautiful structures in Japan and is set against lush green hills.
Follow the ancient stone pathway that leads from the Shinkyō bridge to the mountaintop shrine of Takino-o, named after the waterfall at its entrance. The trail passes the Kyosha-do Hall where Japanese chess pieces are left as offerings by those seeking the safe birth of a child.
Stroll along the riverside walking trail of the Kanmangafuchi Abyss where a row of 70 stone Jizo statues are found. Some of the statues are adorned with red hats and bibs, with a legend stating that they are constantly changing place and are never viewed in the same order twice.
Getting around Nikkō
Nikko is a two-hour train ride from Tokyo, with a faster route available along the private Tōbu Nikkō Line. Buses travel throughout Nikko and offer connections to many of the city’s sights, most of which are within an easy walking distance of one another.