10 Great Things To Do Around Nikko

Nikko is always a popular spot for a holiday trip in Japan. People living in big cities like Tokyo, Osaka etc, when they want to escape from their everyday busy life, Nikko is a suitable place for them to release those stresses.

Nikko is located in Tochigi Prefecture, north of Tokyo. It takes 2 hours by car and around 3 hours by train. The life in Nikko is much slower pace than life in Tokyo. It has a UNESCO world heritage shrine and plenty of green that can help you forget about pressure, totally enjoy and cleanse your soul during your trip.

Photo from Flickr cc Stéphane Neckebrock

Depends how many days you plan to spend in and around Nikko, there are so many things you can plan to do, according to you personal interests. Recently, people seem to prefer exploring not only the more famous “tourist” spots, but also some “secret” and “out of site” places.

To offer you some inspiration for your Nikko trip, whether it is first time or you are returning, we have chosen a list of 10 great things to do around the place, which including famous tourist spot, as well as some hidden spots.

1. Visit Nikko Toshogu Shrine

Photo from Flickr cc by Kentaro Ohno

Toshogu is a must see historical spot in Nikko. It is part of the “Shrines and Temples of Nikko”, as well as a UNESCO world heritage site. It was built in 1617, the main gate is now undergoing construction so the main gate is covered up. However, you can still get a sense of the history and peace during your visit.

2. Try Yuba at local restaurant

One of the important parts of travelling in domestic Japan is their local food. For Nikko the well-know local delicacy is Yuba (tofu skin), made from the top part of boiled soymilk. There are many ways to eat it, as a main dish or turned into a desert.

3. Enjoy a Japanese convenience store

 Photo from Flickr cc by jpellgen

During you trip, you can always find a convenient store near by, they are literally everywhere! But as you are travelling in Japan, why not experience the real Japanese summer? Get a Kakigori (traditional ice) and sit by the side of an open traditional Japanese style room, listening to the sound of wind chime. You will never feel so relax and at peace.

4. Have a lazy afternoon at local coffee shop

Photo by Saki Akane

Order a cup of drip coffee with a piece of cake, read some magazines during a busy planed day can be another way to enjoy Nikko. Those individual coffee shops always have very classic interior design as well as delicious drink and food.

5. Eat buffet at a Onsen Hotel

Photo by Saki Akane

A traditional Onsen hotel does not need to be luxurious. Book a family friendly Onsen hotel in advance, where you can experience a real Japanese family summer holiday. If you like Karaoke, remember to book the room once you check in into the hotel. You do not need to worry about where and what to eat during your trip. As the hotel including breakfast and dinner buffet with variety food choices. After dinner you can burn off some additional calories by playing table tennis, and enjoying the onsen to end your day.

6. Enjoy Irohazaka Slope near Lake Chuzenji

Photo from Flickr cc by Jerry Quek

This is a one-way route from Nikko to Chuzenji. It contains 48 U turns named by Hiragana. The view when you driving along the road is amazing no matter what season. At the end is Lake Chuzenji - a lake surrounded by beautiful scenery. If you want to run away from Tokyo’s humid summer, spend a day by the lake, and enjoy the nature beauty, visiting the waterfall there is always a great choice.

7. Check out the embassy by the river front

Photo from Flickr cc by Jennifer Pack

There are a couple of embassies hidden towards the eastside of Lake Chuzenji. These places used to be a summer resident for European ambassadors in Japan. Now you can visit the embassies by buying a ticket.

8. Collect Goshuin (a stamp from shrines and temples)

Photo by Saki Akane

Nikko has “Shrines and Temples”, these places are very popular with all the people around world. As it is well-known that these sacred places provide different Mamoru (御守). If you like to collect memorabilia, Goshuin (御朱印)will be a great collectable to have. Most of the shrines and temples have their own style of this Goshuin, it is usually written by hand with black ink and couple of red stamps is added to complete the artwork (including family pattern etc.)

9. Explore an abandoned theme park

Photo from Saki Akane

Western Village is a theme park that was built in 1975. Sadly it was hit by the global recession and closed its doors, for the last time in 2007. The owner of Western Village wanted to simply make his dream come true by bringing in a bit of the US to Nikko. If you are an urban explorer, this can be a little surprise visit for you. But be aware, it is not your usual tourist area.

10. Enjoy a simple dinner on way home by the service station

Photo by Saki Akane

In Japan, different Bullet train (Shinkansen) stations has its local traditional food, normally made into a bento box. It is the same with service station on the highway. If you are traveling by car, stop at different service stations to enjoy the local food, as every station has its own signature delicacies. Japan highway service station is not like other countries, each one has its own character, layout and local food. You can also find gifts that are area-limited. This means that these souvenirs are only available in a certain area. These gifts are always popular with families and friends.

Explore more of Nikko!

Explore more of Nikko!

Kathrin Kecht