Nikko

World Heritage Wonderland

 By Tomoko Kamishima   May 6, 2012

Welcome to Nikko!

Nikko, located in the northwest corner of Tochigi Prefecture, is known for its picturesque beauty, and was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.

Nikko boasts of three main areas of interest: The World Heritage Tosho-gu Shrine along with other temples and shrines near Nikko Station; the Chuzen-ji Lake district; and Upper Nikko (Oku Nikko).

The most popular season for visitors is undoubtedly autumn—when its mountains and forests are nicely colored with red, orange and yellow leaves. But autumn is also the busiest season.

May to June is the second busiest season—deep green forests and a variety of freshly blooming flowers will welcome you then.

Nikko’s population is about 90,000. The Nikko city area sits 600 meters above sea level, while the Chuzen-ji Lake area is over 1000 meters. Summer in Nikko is generally hot and humid, and winter is very cold: -10 to -20 degree Celsius with snow 30-70 cm deep.

Nikko has been a holy place for more than 1200 years. Since the priest Shodo succeeded in reaching the summit of Mt. Nantai, people began to worship the mountain as God. Even now, priests practice various forms of asceticism here. In 1617 the first shogun of Edo, Tokugawa Ieyasu, was given a ritual burial in Nikko and so the magnificent Tosho-gu Shrine was built in 1636 for him.

There are several hiking courses in Nikko. You can enjoy peaceful mountains and calm lakes to the fullest. After hiking, soaking in a hot spring bath (onsen) is another attraction. Depending on the hiking course, there are three onsen spots to choose from: Chuzen-ji Onsen, Yumoto Onsen, and Kohtoku Onsen.

The local specialty is yuba, a delicacy made from soy milk ‘skin’. It is usually stewed with vegetables. There are a few popular and tasty fish such as sweetfish (ayu 鮎), pond smelt (wakasagi 鰙), and red salmon (himemasu 姫鱒) caught in Chuzen-ji Lake.

Two direct train line approach Nikko. From JR Shinjuku Station, express trains go to Tobu Nikko Station in 100 minutes. From Tobu Asakusa Station, express trains reach the same station in about 110 minutes. From Utsumomiya, visitors can take the JR Nikko Line to JR Nikko Station.

Don’t miss the wonders of Nikko. Be sure to experience her lovely beauty with your own eyes! 

For a great free guide experience in Nikko, contact

Utsunomiya Systemtized Good-will Guides Club

Written by Tomoko Kamishima
JapanTravel Member

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Join the discussion

Olga Kaneda 2 years ago
We visited Nikko last year! It was awesome
Mandy Bartok 2 years ago
Tomoko, do you know where to find the status of the renovations and what is still under scaffolding at the moment? We'll be in Nikko just after Christmas but I want to find out what is worth tramping to in the cold and what is not!
Mandy Bartok 2 years ago
Thank you , Tomoko! I appreciate the help.