Nikko Travel Guide - Things to Do in Nikko

March 01, 2019


What will come to your mind when you first think about day trip from Tokyo?
Yokohama? Kamakura? Kawaguchiko? Hakone? Disney in Chiba?

Sure you can do that, but here I am giving you another day trip alternative from Tokyo (not like you can't stay overnight at this place either!) which is NIKKO that's located in TOCHIGI prefecture
I visited Nikko twice in a year, and both in 2018 end of winter (March), and 2019 early winter (January). I heard from a colleague of mine that Nikko is really famous during autumn, especially since it's located in high altitude, so the autumn foliage will stay longer than other areas

HOW TO GET THERE AND HOW MUCH?

There are many ways to visit Nikko but the cheapest way is to buy a Nikko Pass along with Tobu Limited Express train that departs from either Asakusa or Tokyo Sky Tree Station. The pass that I recommended is NIKKO PASS ALL AREA that covers bus transportation from Tobu Nikko Station to all Nikko area. It also includes free ropeway ticket and free cruise (when it's on service), including a certain discount for some entrance fees

The pass is valid for 4 days which makes it great if you're staying in Nikko area. BUT, I purchased the pass only for a day trip, and in fact, one-way fare from Tobu Nikko Station to Yumoto Onsen Stop is around 1600-1700 yen, which makes the pass for 4190 yen is a fair trade if you're traveling to yumoto onsen - lake chuzenji area. However, if you're only traveling to World Heritage Area only, then just get the normal pass

If you purchase the pass, you're entitled to have a return limited express train ticket of Tobu Nikko Line, and the total of the pass + return ticket to Asakusa is 6470 yen! Which is pretty affordable for a day trip from Tokyo since it concludes everything. The ride is 2 hours for one way, and it's better to start early especially in the winter because it will get dark earlier

SHINKYO BRIDGE


The most popular landmark for Nikko is probably this Shinkyo Bridge. It's located within 1 bus stop away from Tobu Nikko Bus Station, and in fact you can probably walk there from the station and it might take you 15 mins only. You can in fact cross the bridge and take pictures, but when I was there, it was raining so hard so we decided to just leave after a quick shot

TOSHOGU SHRINE


Toshogu Shrine is the most popular shrine in Nikko in my opinion, and the reason is because it's decorated with real gold and also the final resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, in case you follow Japanese History, you'll know who he is. The decorations of wood carving and large amount of gold leaf used for this shrine was never seen elsewhere in Japan because usually Japanese shrine is all about simplicity


The Buddhist and Shintoism elements blend together in this shrine because those two religions were so intermingled 


Outside the shrine, there's also five stories pagoda. The admission price for the shrine is 1300 yen, and the museum is 1000 yen. If you purchase altogether, it's 2100 yen. For me it's really expensive just for a shrine visit, but if you're a fan of shrine and history, you might not want to miss this out

AKECHIDAIRA ROPEWAY

If you purchase NIKKO ALL AREA PASS, you're entitled to free ropeway at Akechidaira which usually will cost you 730 yen per person, so make sure to take advantage of this!


The ride is only 3-5 mins long and I didn't come during peak winter hence the trees and mountains shade were not in pretty colors unlike autumn neither it's covered by thick snow


Nevertheless I think the view from the top is breathtaking and worth to be visited! 

KEGON WATERFALL 

Kegon Waterfall is the most famous waterfall in Nikko, and ranked as one of Japan's three most beautiful falls, along with Nacho Waterfall in Wakayama Prefecture, and Fukuroda Waterfall in Ibaraki Prefecture. Among those 3 waterfalls, I think Kegon Waterfall is the easiest to be accessed! It's 100 meter tall and to reach the observation area where I shot this pic, you need to pay 500 yen to use the elevator


It's a short walk from the Chuzenjiko Onsen Bus Terminal. I personally find is as really pretty and the beauty can't be captured by camera, you just have to come by yourself to see how majestic the sound, the landscape, and the snow during winter. It would reach its peak end of February or early March, and I would love to come again during those period

CHUZENJI LAKE

Just 10 mins walk from the Kegon Falls, it's the Chuzenji Lake. Probably the prettiest lake I have ever seen in Japan, and in case you forgot, this is the view of my hotel room at KAI NIKKO. When I first saw the lake, it was sparkling, literally! I am not sure why, but it's so blue, so clear, and the magnificent mountains surrounding the lake makes me wonder if I truly am in Japan and not New Zealand


In fact with Nikko All Area Pass, I was entitled for a free cruise in Lake Chuzenji but I never saw a cruise during both winter time I visited this place, so probably you have to come during summer to take advantage of the cruise. But even strolling around the lake and breathing the air around the area would be satisfying

YUMOTO ONSEN

The last stop of the bus, and the furthest, is Yumoto Onsen Stop. Where they have free public foot bath. Unfortunately it was closed for winter. You can however visit any onsen in this area by paying a small fee. The onsen's price will vary depending on the hotel or places you're going, from 500-1000 yen, not included towel rental. I chose an outdoor onset bath because I wanted my friend to experience the comfort of dipping inside onset while watching snow falling. The total was 1300 yen

Also, in case you want to see snow but in Chuzenji Area or other parts of Nikko is not yet fully covered, simply ride all the way up to Yumoto Onsen and you'll have winter wonderland because it's the top of the mountain. The logic is, the higher it is, the colder it is, the higher chance of snow during winter! I am not going to upload the pictures of the onsen because in fact it's prohibited and I didn't receive any permission, so just illegal selfie will do ? lol 

EAT YUBA 

Nikko is famous for its Yuba, which is tofu skin. In Indonesian language, we call it Kembang Tahu. But with slightly different texture and taste than the one in Indonesia. It's a local delicacy and can be put for shabu-shabu, udon or soba toppings, and also other variants such as yuba tempura! The possibilities are endless! When I first visited Nikko, I also tried Duck's Soba. Duck is also popular topping for udon or soba in Nikko, alongside Yuba. Maybe they catch the duck from the lake, but I haven't done my research up to that point lol

EAT GRILLED RIVER FISH

In mountain area as far as I experience, such as Kawaguchiko and Nikko, grilled river fish is really common. You can eat it as Set Meal (Teishoku) or you can just visit any street vendor that grills it for you. Popular fish name includes AYU, sweetfish in english. The most popular way to cook river fish is to shove skewer all the way from the top to the bottom of fish' body and sprinkle it with sea salt before grill it

Where to Stay?

My recommendation to have the best ryokan with the best view of Lake Chuzenji is KAI NIKKO. I have blogged about the ryokan before, so check out the post! The view is mostly not distracted against trees, unlike other hotels that I saw around the lake. Sure the other hotels also offer "lake view" as a part of their selling point, but when I was circling around the lake and watching the other hotels, I realize KAI NIKKO has the best view because it's higher than the trees so for picture-wise, it's way better!


So that's all my recommendation for things to do in Nikko, and hopefully this travel guide would be useful for anyone who wants to visit Nikko and don't know what to do and where to visit
I will probably update it more in the future shall I have chance to visit Nikko again in the future
But until then, I hope this list is sufficient for you

Talk to you guys again on my next post

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