Nikko, a little town in Tochigi Prefecture about two hours north of Tokyo, is one of the most well-liked tourist attractions in the nation. What are the things to do in Nikko? Nikko, which is tucked away in the mountains and surrounded by forests, is home to numerous spectacular Buddhist and Shinto temples that showcase some of the best works of Edo period art and architecture.
Nikko is well-known for its stunning alpine beauty in addition to its numerous historical and cultural attractions. You can discover many glittering waterfalls, sparkling lakes, and boiling hot springs in the nearby forests. It’s worth spending a few days and things to do in Nikko to see all the amazing historical landmarks and natural beauties it has to offer, even though most visitors simply come here for a day trip from the capital.
8 BEST THINGS TO DO IN NIKKO, JAPAN
1. EDO WONDERLAND NIKKO EDOMURA
Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura is a lively and festive cultural theme park that makes for a great family day out. It provides an intriguing glimpse at Japanese life and culture during the Edo era (1603–1868). As soon as you enter the park, you’ll know you’ve traveled back in time because the impressive governmental structures and samurai homes that stand in your path are examples of Edo Period architecture.
In addition, all employees dress historically accurate and act historically accurate. You can practice archery, shuriken throwing, and ninja moves while you’re out and about, whether you’re wearing regular clothes or a costume. Whether it’s a performance, a march through the park’s streets built during Edo, or an oiran play in one of its seven ancient theaters, there’s always something going on there.
The Toshogu shrine complex is the focus of many visitors’ journeys to Nikko since it is the biggest and most elaborate of the city’s numerous Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. The complex, which consists of more than a dozen distinct buildings, is devoted to Tokugawa Ieyasu, the man who established the Tokugawa Shogunate.
While the remainder of the buildings’ construction is incredibly gorgeous and flawlessly combines Buddhist and Shinto elements, his mausoleum is just sparsely ornamented. The complex’s spectacular five-story pagoda and the opulent and towering Yomeimon Gate are two of its most renowned structures.
Toshogu is definitely a feast for the eyes, since there is so much art and beauty to take in, with magnificent carvings and exquisitely decorated architecture everywhere you turn.
3. YUDAKI FALLS
The ice waters of Yudaki Falls, which flow from Lake Yunoko, plunge 70 meters down the mountainside before leveling off and becoming the Yugawa River. Although the foamy water jets that make up the falls have an icy aspect, their Japanese name actually translates to “hot water cascade.”
A great vantage point allows you to see the Yudaki Falls in all of their beauty from below. The beautiful Senjogahara Plateau Nature Trail is located right next to its basin at the bottom and leads you through gorgeous wetlands and woodlands as well as along the river’s banks.
4. RYOUKYO CANYON
The Ryuokyo Canyon contains some of the most breathtaking landscape in the area and has been shaped over millennia by the Kinugawa River that flows through it. The emerald green waters of the river meander through Nikko National Park with occasional rock outcroppings, beautifully framed by the steep walls of Ryuokyo.
The view from above is equally breathtaking, with dense trees sliding down the nearby mountainside and threatening to engulf the canyon. Hiking the picturesque 7-kilometer Ryuokyo Canyon walk from Kawaji Onsen to Kinugawa Onsen is a great way to observe the canyon. You can finish by taking a soothing soak in one of its magnificent hot springs.
Although the canyon is stunning to view year-round, the fall is the best season to go since the surrounding trees’ foliage is a captivating combination of yellows, reds, and oranges.
5. TAIYUINBYO SHRINE
With its intricate architecture and magnificent decorations, Taiyuinbyo Shrine, which is tucked away in the forest, provides a breathtaking sight. The shrine, which is devoted to Iemitsu, the third Tokugawa Shogun, is distinctive in that its main temple faces Toshogu Shrine to the northeast. Although this is regarded as an unlucky address, he chose it in honor of and reverence for the dynasty’s founder, Tokugawa Ieyasu, who is interred nearby.
With its intricate architecture and opulent decorations, Taiyuinbyo Shrine, which is tucked away in the forest, makes for an impressive sight. The shrine, which honors Iemitsu, the third Tokugawa Shogun, stands out for having its main temple pointed northeastward toward Toshogu Shrine. It was done to honor and show respect to his grandpa, Tokugawa Ieyasu, the dynasty’s founder, who is interred nearby, even though this location is thought to be unlucky in general.
6. NIKKO NATIONAL PARK
Lake Chuzenji, Ryuzu Falls, and Kegon Falls are among the breathtaking vistas that are included in Nikko National Park, which was established in 1934. Numerous recreational opportunities are provided by the region’s mountains, lakes, rivers, and forests, with camping, hiking, and skiing enjoying special popularity. Many visitors go there to unwind in the amazing hot spring onsen complexes.
Nikko National Park is home to numerous natural beauties as well as a number of significant and beautiful Buddhist and Shinto temples, the most imposing of which are Rinno-ji and Toshogu. It should not be surprising that it is recognized as one of the best and most beautiful national parks in Japan given the abundance of breathtaking scenery and important historical sites on exhibit.
7. TAMOZAWA IMPERIAL VILLA MEMORIAL PARK
The Tamozawa Imperial Villa, which was initially constructed in 1899 as a summer getaway for Emperor Taisho, later served as an Emperor Hirohito refuge during World War II. Its numerous rooms and grounds have been transformed into a spectacular museum and memorial park today, providing an enthralling glimpse into the lifestyle of the imperial family.
In the 106 rooms of the Tamozawa Imperial Villa, you’ll find magnificent buildings from the Edo, Meiji, and Taisho eras. It is one of the biggest wooden structures still standing in the entire nation. As you explore the vast complex, you’ll come across numerous exhibitions and displays that describe the emperors’ lives and times as well as the wonderful crafts on display.
8. RYUZU WATERFALL
The “Dragon’s Head Waterfall,” as it is known in English, cascades down around 200 meters of stone steps and derives its name from a peculiar boulder that divides the falls in half not far from its foot. Ryuzu Waterfall, which is upstream from Lake Chuzenji on the Yukawa River, is a well-liked destination for both locals and visitors, and there is a charming little trail you can meander along for wonderful views of the falls.
It draws a lot of visitors in the fall when the surrounding forest is ablaze with hues, but May is also a great time to go when the red azaleas are in flower.
The mountain town of Nikko has drawn tourists for centuries as a result of its world-famous temples, ancient shrines, and rich spiritual heritage. You may find things to do in Nikko whether you’re a history enthusiast, an outdoor adventurer, or just want to relax in a hot tub with a craft brew.