Created for expats living in Japan

Captivating Voyage Through Nature and History in NIKKO, showcasing ideal itinerary for you!

This article is contributed by Concierge Bank Co, Ltd.

Home to renowned hot springs born from abundant natural sources such as Nasu and Shiobara, exquisite local delicacies like the country's top strawberry production and Utsunomiya's famous gyoza, traditional crafts like Mashiko pottery, Tochigi Prefecture boasts a diverse array of attractions. Among them, Nikko City with its UNESCO World Heritage Sites is an area not to be missed!

From the majestic Nikko Toshogu Shrine, dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu, to scenic spots like the lakeside of Chuzenji, Irohazaka Winding Road, and the spectacular Kegon Falls, the timeless beauty of its history and the ever-changing nature throughout the seasons offer a captivating scenery that never fails to enchant, no matter how many times you visit.

Only about a 2-hour train ride north from Tokyo, Nikko flourished as a summer retreat for foreigners around 130 years ago. Diplomats stationed in Japan chose the shores of Lake Chuzenji as their villa area, and a century ago, over 40 villas were constructed, with most being owned by various foreign embassies. At that time, it was said that 'the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would relocate to Nikko for the summer.'

On the other hand, descending from the lakeside to the town, you'll encounter the UNESCO World Heritage sites known as 'Nikko's Shrines and Temples,' which include the 'Toshogu Shrine,' 'Futarasan Shrine,' and 'Rinno-ji Temple.'

In the journey to Nikko, you cannot bypass one of the most towering figures in Japanese history, 'Ieyasu Tokugawa'. who laid the foundations for an era of unparalleled peace, spanning roughly 260 years, about 400 years ago. In accordance with his final wishes, Ieyasu is enshrined at Nikko Toshogu Shrine.

We present an ideal itinerary for Nikko, blessed with history, nature, and hot springs!

Day1:Travel to Nikko by Limited Express Train “Spacia X”

The heart-pounding journey begins with 'Spacia X'.

Renowned globally, Japan's trains are celebrated for their diverse and uniquely designed features, facilities, and services. Perhaps there are those eagerly anticipating the chance to ride Japan's trains? A new model, embodying both Japanese essence and elegance, made its debut in July 2023. The train's design draws inspiration from traditional Edo-era craftsmanship, and its white exterior evokes the brilliance of Nikko Toshogu Shrine's Yomeimon Gate. Beyond being a mere mode of transportation, the journey unfolds from the Spacia X.

Explore the majestic Nikko’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Stroll the precincts of UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Rinno-ji Temple, Nikko Futarasan Shrine, and Toshogu Shrine.

Among them, Nikko Toshogu Shrine, founded in 1617 and venerating one of Japan's greatest historical figures, Ieyasu Tokugawa, boasts a magnificent architectural beauty that showcases Japan's traditional craftsmanship and artistic excellence. Its many attractions continually draw people back time and again, captivated each time anew.

Adorned with intricate sculptures like the resplendent Yōmeimon Gate, each intricate carving carries its own meaningful story, revealing layers of fascination when explored alongside its narrative. Among over 5,000 sculptures, make sure not to miss the symbol of peace, the 'Sleeping Cat', and the 'Three Monkeys' portraying 'see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil' poses!

Stroll along Kanmangafuchi Abyss and count the Jizo statues

Kanmangafuchi Abyss is a small gorge along the Daiya River with its wild flow. Along the gorge path, you'll encounter a group of about 70 Jizo statues, revered as the patron saints of travelers and known as 'Bake Jizo' (transformed Jizo). Named after the rumor that the number of statues changes between outbound and return.

Drive up the Iroha slope to Oku-Nikko, where beautiful and majestic nature awaits.

From the Sannai Area of Nikko, embark on a scenic drive through the famous Iroha Slope, renowned for its autumn colors, and continue onwards to the breathtaking Oku-Nikko.

Tonight's accommodation is at the globally renowned luxury hotel brand, ‘The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko.’

(C)Tochigi Prefecture Tourism & Local Products Association

The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko stands on the shore of Lake Chuzenji, with Mt. Nantai as its backdrop, offering breathtaking views from every angle.

Each room features a veranda space, allowing guests to enjoy panoramic views of Lake Chuzenji and Mt.Nantai. Throughout the hotel, traditional craftwork of Tochigi Prefecture, such as the decorative Kanuma Kumiko (Kanuma wood latticework), creates a delicate yet beautiful and sophisticated space.

One of the major attractions is the hot spring facility, the first of its kind to be introduced under the Ritz-Carlton brand worldwide. The modern design of the stone-built natural hot springs includes both indoor and outdoor baths, as well as a fragrant hinoki cypress dry sauna, providing guests with a truly luxurious experience.

Day2:Indulging in the breathtaking beauty of Nikko’s natural landscapes

Just a 5-minute walk from your hotel, there is one of Japan's three greatest waterfalls, the magnificent 97-meter tall Kegon Falls. Take the elevator down to the observation deck to enjoy a breathtaking view of the powerful waterfall up close.

Kegon Falls is sourced from the upstream Lake Chuzenji. During the day, standing at the observation deck, one can witness the grand waterfall, with approximately one ton of water flowing every minute. Bathed in the mist, you'll be captivated by its overwhelming presence, simply breathtaking.

In contrast, one of Nikko's top three waterfalls, Ryuzu Falls. Spanning about 210 meters across a staircase-like formation of rocks, it cascades down with a width of approximately 10 meters. The name 'Ryu (=Dragon)+Zu (=Head)' originates from its resemblance to a dragon's head, as it splits into two streams and descends dramatically over massive boulders near the basin.

With a scenic pathway running parallel to the waterfall, consider taking a leisurely 10-minute stroll from the basin to the top, and immerse yourself in the captivating beauty of the surroundings.

(C)Tochigi Prefecture Tourism & Local Products Association

An evening drift on the waters of Lake Chuzenji as dusk falls

Lake Chuzenji is said to be the closest lake to the sky in Japan. As the sun begins to set, enjoy a leisurely stroll on the water with a Mega SUP board, surrounded by the twilight hues painting the lake's surface in madder color, and illuminated by the moonlight heralding the arrival of nightfall. Immerse yourself in the tranquil atmosphere and savor a moment intoxicated by the fantastical scenery woven by nature.

Day3:Delight in a luxurious afternoon tea as the perfect finale to your Nikko journey

Relax at the hotel until noon check-out, then indulge in afternoon tea at The Lobby Lounge. Featuring seasonal fruits as the main attraction, each item is meticulously prepared to highlight the natural flavors, allowing you to experience the essence of the season in every bite. Accompanied by a selection of Japanese teas, savor the delicate harmony between the various tea flavors and the subtle nuances of each leaf.

Then, transfer to Tobu-Nikko station to conclude the tour.

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