Nikko Travel Guide

Browse 9 travel reviews, 14 travel blogs and 1,330 travel photos from real travelers to Nikko.

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Nikko Overview

Containing some of Japan's most epic scenery in the form of mountains, waterfalls, and winding trails that carve their way through the hills of the Nikko National Park, the small city of Nikko is a place of great interest to both Japanese people and foreigners alike. From the World Heritage mausoleums of the Tokugawa Shoguns to the story of the first temple built here more than 1,200 years ago on the banks of the River Daiya, Nikko contains a variety of wonders for anyone makes the trip.

The name of the city translates literally to “sunlight” or “sunshine”, and as the city rests in the mountains of the Tochigi Prefecture just 140 km north of Tokyo, it’s immediately evident as to how it earned its name. The entire village was initially built up around the shrines and temples that make up the World Heritage Site, with the first temple of Rinno-ji built in 766. These are some of the most opulent temples and shrines in Japan, and unlike the unassuming shrines throughout the rest of the country, these are more Chinese than one would initially expect, covered with gold leaf and multi-colored carvings, enshrouded by a forest of cedar trees that loom over everything.

While it is true that the temples are the main reason for visitors coming here, the beauty of the surrounding countryside is also a major draw, and with access to the Nikko National Park or hikes up to the top of Mount Nakimushi, it’s easy to see why this place has become such a haven for travelers around the world. While the city can certainly be taken in on a day trip from Tokyo, the only way to experience the true culture and heritage of the place is to spend a night or two in some of the traditional ryoken guesthouses, not to mention the pictures you can get at sunrise and sunset are well worth the extra time spent.