Nikko, Japan

How to Time Travel from Tokyo

One of the things I love most about Japan is how simultaneously big and small it is. Geographically, it doesn’t cover a huge area, but all you need to do is hop on the Tokyo Metro or Shinkansen or even a local train, in some cases. Even if you only travel a few stations, you get off and you’re on an entirely different planet.

Or, as is the case if you visit the city of Nikko, in an entirely different time.

A UNESCO World Heritage site that dates back over a millennium, Nikko is famous in more recent Japanese history as the home of 17th-century Shogun Tokugawa, whose dying wish was to be enshrined as a God there. This wish, as you will see immediately upon crossing the Shinkyo bridge into old Nikko, was carried out.

Quite beautifully, I might add.

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Where to Stay in Nikko

I recommend visiting Nikko on a day trip, but it’s a lovely place to spend a night (or longer!) if you have time in your Japan itinerary. Whether you stay at the boutique Nikko Senhime Monogatari or the budget Nikko Guesthouse Imaichiyado, you’re sure to feel right at home in Nikko.

Thing to Do in Nikko

The highlight of Nikko is Tosho-gu, a Shinto shrine founded in the early 17th century. Located on a hilltop and massive in its expanse, this is where the majority of day trippers from Tokyo spend the entirety of their day in Nikko—and with good reason. Within Tosho-gu, the most picturesque places include the Five-Story Pagoda, the Three Wise Monkeys carving and the Kagura-den Dance Hall.

Apart from Tosho-gu, other things to do in Nikko include the Shin-Kyo Bridge (which you’ll walk over to reach Tosho-gu) and Nikko Botanical Garden. If you spend longer in Nikko (for example, two days in Nikko instead of just a day trip), you might decide to visit Nikko National Park, including its highlight Chujenzi Lake.


How to Get to Nikko from Tokyo

Nikko is easily accessible from Tokyo by train. If you have a Japan Rail Pass, take a Shinkansen from Tokyo station to Utosonomiya, then transfer to the Nikko line and ride it to the final stop. Total journey time is around 90 minutes, depending on how you work your connection. Click here to search schedules.

If you don’t have a JR Pass (or if you do and don’t care about paying extra to ride a non-JR train) take the Tobu Nikko Line, which runs directly from Asakusa Station in northeast Tokyo. Click here to learn more about Tobu Nikko line prices and schedules.

The Bottom Line

Nikko is one of the easiest and most fulfilling day trips from Tokyo—Nikko is absolutely worth a visit! Whether you simply explore the Nikko Tosho-gu Shrine or venture into outlying areas like Lake Chujenzi and Nikko National Park, a morning and afternoon in Nikko is one of the most illuminating ways to break up the days you spend in Tokyo.

Leave Your Daily Hell   Filed under: Japan

About The Author

is the author of 841 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!


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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah Blinco April 25, 2014 at 6:20 pm

Beautiful – thanks for sharing. Love Japan!

Robert Schrader April 26, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Thanks for reading! 🙂

creativenomad April 27, 2014 at 2:12 pm

stunning. great pics. thanks for sharing

Robert Schrader April 28, 2014 at 6:43 am

Thanks for reading! <3

dianneanni December 28, 2014 at 10:39 pm

Awesome pictures!

Robert Schrader December 29, 2014 at 8:02 am

Thank you! 😀

Tatlo Dizon June 30, 2015 at 5:08 pm

Thanks for this! Going to Japan in three weeks and cramming at the moment to finalize our itinerary. This surely helped me in deciding to squeeze Nikko in since Mount Fuji is not stunning in July. Enjoy your New Zealand trip! Kia Ora!

Robert Schrader July 1, 2015 at 9:43 am

Thanks Tatlo!

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