150 kilometres north of Tokyo lies Nikko National Park. It is one of the most beautiful national parks in Japan and an ideal destination to escape the busy city of Tokyo. Here you can make beautiful walks through the beautiful nature.
It is possible to take Nikko National Park as a day trip from Tokyo. But if you have the time then at least 1 night is definitely recommended. Because in addition to nature you will also find many cultural attractions: some very important temples. And those are again on the Unesco World Heritage List. Let’s go to Nikko National Park …!
Nikko National Park Travel Guide – Content
- History of Nikko National Park – A journey through the past
- Accommodation – Where to stay in Nikko?
- Map of Nikko National Park
- Sights – 4 historical sites in Nikko National Park
- Transportation – How to get to Nikko National Park?
History of Nikko National Park – A journey through the past
In the 8th century the monk Shodo Shonin (735-817) founded a pilgrimage site in Nikko. It began with the Shihonryuji Temple, now known as the Rinnoji Temple. Later he also founded the Futurasan Temple. Both can still be seen in Nikko National Park!
In the 16th century the leader of Japan, Ieyasu Tokugawa, ordered his successor to build his mausoleum here. For years they worked on this heavily gold carved temple to honour the old leader. His mausoleum lies behind the complex.
Accommodation – Where to stay in Nikko?
In Nikko I stayed at Nikko Sumica Guesthouse. It is not a big hostel, but it is run by a nice couple. When I was there, fun games were done, such as sumo wrestling on a game board. Two cardboard figures that are put together and then it’s on your side on the board tapping. And just hope yours is on top. Then you have won!
On my second day we went with the guesthouse to a beer garden and that was great fun. The hostel is close to the station. The only disadvantage, although I don’t mind, is that the hostel is about a 25-30 minute walk to the temple area.
Map of Nikko National Park
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Sights – 4 historical sites in Nikko National Park
Of course, this park is perfect for a number of beautiful walks through nature. But Nikko National Park is also an excellent place for art and culture.
1: Kegon Falls en Chuzenji Lake
The Kegon Waterfall is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Japan. 100 meters high the water plunges down into a wide gorge. But this place also has its dark sides. Because more than 200 people committed suicide here by jumping down from the top of the waterfall.
Curious about the background of this story? Read the article Kegon Falls | 200 suicides in Nikko National Park.
2: Toshogu Shrine: The golden temple
The Toshogu Shrine is actually a tribute to the first leader of the Tokugawa shogunate: Ieyasu Tokugawa. Do a lot of gold, the mighty leader will have said by then. And that has come true, because with more than 500 kilos of gold, this temple is an unmissable sight in Nikko National Park.
Read more about the Toshogu Shrine? Then read the article Toshogu Shrine, Nikko | Visit the Golden Temple
3: Kanmangafuchi Abyss
The Kanmangafuchi Abyss is a gorge near the temple complex of Nikko. If you have time left then a walk of an hour along the river is a great opportunity. Because along this way are also the mysterious Jizo figurines that can just disappear. Or not?
For more information about those mysterious figurines with red scarves read the article Discover the mysterious statues in the Kanmangafuchi Abyss in Nikko
4: A tour of Nikko’s free temples
A number of temples, such as the Futurusan and the Toshogu Shrine cost money to visit them. But if you don’t want to, there is also the possibility to visit a number of small temples. They are also located on the complex in a quiet area. Lovely to avoid the hustle and bustle of the Toshogu Shrine and Futurusan Temple.
Transportation – How to get to Nikko National Park?
Most people come to Nikko National Park from Tokyo. I activated my JR-pass at the Ueno Station, but that is also possible at Narita International airport or Haneda Airport. For more information click the link below. From the Ueno Station I took the Shinkansen to Utsunomiya and then switched to a local JR train. In total this trip took about 2 hours.
Tip: Of course you want to sit by the window! Before you leave, book a place with your Japan Railway pass, so you can look outside at the window. The trains are never full, but for the unreserved part I sometimes sat at the aisle. And you don’t want that, do you?
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