Nikko (日光, Nikkō) is a small town in Tochigi Prefecture that is known for being a gateway to Nikko National Park (日光国立公園, Nikkō Kokuritsu Kōen). Because of this Nikko is usually used to refer to the region that includes Nikko, the town, and Okunikko, the area to the west, an expanse of forest, mountains, waterfalls, and hiking trails. Nikko town is also the home of one of Japan’s most famous shrines: Nikko Toshogu Shrine where Tokugawa Ieyasu rests.

The region is particularly popular in autumn when the leaves change color. This begins in late September around Ryuzu Waterfall and lasts until early November nearer Nikko town, but October is typically regarded as the best month to visit and so those planning on travelling to Nikko during this time are advised to book ahead.

Getting Around

Given that many of the attractions in the Nikko region are spread out over a wide area, car is by far the most convenient way to get around. However, public transport runs throughout the area to cater for the many tourists who visit by train, with buses departing at regular intervals. You can see the Tobu Bus time table here.

The Nikko All Area Pass offers unlimited travel on designated trains and buses within Nikko, as well as discounts at certain shops in the region. A two-day pass costs 4,520 yen for adults and 1,150 yen for children during summer (20 April to 30 November) and 4,150 yen for adults and 1,040 yen for children at other times of the year (see here for details). Tobu Railways also offers the Nikko World Heritage Area Pass for 2,000 yen for adults and 600 yen for children (see here for details). The key difference is that Nikko World Heritage Area Pass does not cover the Okunikko area—just Nikko town and the Tobu railway line which goes towards Kinugawa Onsen. Both of these passes can be purchased at Tobu Railways offices in Asakusa or Ikebukuro, as well as some travel agencies.

Nikko, Tochigi
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Getting there

Train. The fastest way to get to Nikko is to take the JR Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo or Ueno Station to Utsunomiya, and then transfer to the JR Nikko Line which will take you direct to Nikko Station. The JR Tohoku Shinkansen leaves every 60 minutes during the day and takes about 50 minutes to get to Utsunomiya. From there it is about 40 minutes on the JR Nikko Line to Nikko Station. From Shinjuku Station, take the Nikko-Kinugawa train to Tobu-Nikko Station (approx. 2 hours). Tobu Railway also operates trains to Nikko from Asakusa, but this involves a change.

Bus. Buses from Tokyo to Nikko are limited. The only option is Kosokubus, which operates a service between Tokyo Station and Tobu-Nikko Station and costs 2,500 yen for adults and 1,250 yen for children.

Key Attractions

British Embassy Villa Memorial Park

Former villa of the British Embassy which was used as a summer residence until 2008. It was donated…

Irohazaka & Akechidaira Observation Deck

Two winding roads that connect Nikko and Okunikko

Nikko Toshogu Shrine

Toshogu Shrine (東照宮, Tōshōgū) is Nikko’s most visited attraction. It is the resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, under…
April to October: 8am to 5pm, November to March: 8am to 4pm
Adults (including high school students) 1,300 yen, children 450 yen

Chuzenji Temple

Chuzenji Temple (中禅寺, Chūzenji) is a large Buddhist temple on the eastern shore of Lake Chuzenji known for…

Kegon Falls

Kegon Falls (華厳の滝, Kegon no Taki) is a 97-meter high waterfall to the east of Lake Chuzenji and…

Lake Chuzenji

Lake Chuzenji (中禅寺湖, Chūzenjiko) lies to the west of Nikko town in the Okunikko region. The small onsen…

Ryuzu Waterfall

Ryuzu Waterfall (竜頭ノ滝, Ryūzu no Taki) is located a short distance from the northern shore of Lake Chuzenji.…

Shinkyo Bridge

The Shinkyo Bridge (神橋, Shinkyō) is the first structure visitors see before they enter the area of Nikko’s…

Senjogahara Marshland

The Senjogahara Marshland (戦場ヶ原, Senjōgahara) is an area of four square kilometers north of Lake Chuzenji popular as…
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