Since we got the 5-Day JR East Pass, we decided to explore Nikko, Japan this time. Nikko (日光, Nikkō) is a small city in Japan’s Tochigi Prefecture. It is also a center of Shinto and Buddhist mountain worship for many centuries before Toshogu was built in the 1600s. There are many attraction places to explore in Nikko itself but we only managed to explore limited places during our day trip there. Places like Nikko National Park, shrines, hot springs, hiking trails, monkeys and many more.We did a minute video of our day trip to Nikko from Tokyo for fun!
The city is quite popular among the locals where they enjoy it during the weekend away from the hectic Tokyo city. Nikko also has many UNESCO World Heritage sites. The place is breathtaking natural sceneries and let me share the places we went during our Nikko trip.
WHEN TO TRAVEL TO NIKKO JAPAN?
Every season has its beauty to enjoy the beautiful sceneries of Nikko. Here are few options for your reference:
1. Mid April in Spring to witness the cherry blossom season
2. Mid October during fall season for momiji ( known as koyo) (autumn colours)
HOW TO GET TO NIKKO FROM TOKYO?
Nikko has two train stations- one by the Tobu group and another by JR. There are various option to travel from Tokyo to Nikko when you use Google Map to search. And of course the fares will vary depending on which route to take. I would suggest getting JR East Pass to reach Nikko for tourists. You can take a JR from Tokyo or Ueno Station to Utsunomiya Station and transfer to the JR Nikko Line. This whole journey is covered by the JR Pass. Alternatively, you can take Tobu Skytree Line from Asakusa which will take more than two hours to reach.
Once you arrive, you need to take Tobu bus to get you around Nikko areas. You can check the bus schedule here.
WHAT TO SEE IN NIKKO?
Upon arrival, we took a Tobu bus right in front of the Nikko Station up to Akechidaira Plateau (明智平) to start our first stop. You can purchase the round bus tickets (Senjogahara Freepass) at the ticket counter or use Japan Suica Card to pay for the bus fare. The bus ride takes approximately 30-40minutes.
Akechidaira Plateau is located near the top of the ascending Irohazaka Winding Road. There is parking lot with free observation area with a nice view. You will arrive at the stop where you see a cafeteria, souvenir shop and lower station of the Akechidaira Ropeway.
Purchase the tickets at the ticket counters to take the ropeway up to the mountain for the awe-inspiring views over Kegon Waterfall. Here is the beautiful view without the autumn colour season. If you are coming during that season ( October and early November), the whole place will covered with autumn colours and of course crowded with people. Nevertheless, we still love the view we saw that day.
Opening Hours: 9:00AM to 16:00PM (longer hours during the autumn color season)
Admission: 400Yen (one way), 730Yen (round trip)
Then, we took the ropeway down and waited for the next bus timing to get to Kegon Waterfalls. The bus stops at the Chuzenjiko Onsen bus terminal and you need to walk approximately 5 minutes to see the Kegon Waterfall. This 100meter tall Kegon Waterfall (華厳の滝, Kegon no taki) is the most famous of Nikko’s many beautiful waterfalls. It is said to rank as one of the Japan’s three most beautiful falls along with Nachi Waterfall in Wakayama Prefecture and Fukuroda Waterfall in Ibaraki Prefecture.
It can be seen from a FREE observation platform where I got this shot. There is also a paid platform at the base of the falls. I did not go down further though. But it was quite a sight from the observation platform.
Lake Chuzenji (中禅寺湖, Chūzenjiko)
Since the waterfall is located at Lake Chuzenji, we also made our way to the lake for the last stop of the day. It is a scenic lake in the mountains above the town of Nikko. The eastern end of the lake,where Chuzenji Onsen, a small hot spring town was built. Travellers can explore to hiking and relaxing in one of the local hot springs. If you are going to stay a night here, try their hot springs.
By the time we done with all the sight seeing, it was almost 4.30pm and we took the bus to the station and waited for the next timing of the JR train ride back to Tokyo. We used the same JR East Pass throughout the journey except for the bus ride around Nikko.
WHERE TO PURCHASE JR EAST PASS?
Click here to purchase and find out the places they covered.