The mountain at the gates of Tokyo

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#3 in Kanto

To the north of Tokyo, the small town of Nikko (90,000 inhabitants) is popular with tourists for its beautiful landscapes, temples and shrines, some of which are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Its lovely mountainous area makes it a popular trip out of the capital. Also, for those who are seeking it, it is easy to see snow here.

The journey from Tokyo is not very long and if you organise it properly, it is possible to visit several of its main points of interest in a single day. It is also possible to spend a night there to enjoy its many onsen (natural hot springs).

As you leave the station, the easiest way to start is by heading to the Shinkyo bridge and walking for a quarter of an hour. From there, go into the National Park to visit the five major temples and shrines: Toshogu, Rinno-ji (Taiyuin and Sanbutsudo) Kan-mangafuchi and Futarasan.

Going over the plateau, you come to the Okunikko area around Lake Chuzenji, another one of the region’s must-see tourist destinations.

Things to do in Nikko

Nikko by Kanpai community

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Weather in Nikko
10 °C
15 °C
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How to get to Nikko

By JR train: Shinkansen from Tokyo or Ueno (respectively 49 or 45 minutes), change for a bus from Utsunomiya (45 minutes).

By Tobu train: direct from Asakusa (2:10 hours - ¥1,350 / ~US$ 13.50 without seat reservation), stop in front of the Matsuya.

Both stations are located a few dozen meters from each other.

For non-owners of JR Pass, some interesting pass (offering free transportation on Tobu trains from Tokyo and local buses) are available for sale:

  • "2 Day Nikko Pass": ¥2,670 (~US$ 26.70) for 2 days
  • "All Nikko Pass": ¥4,520 (~US$ 45.20) for 4 days
How long / when to visit

Visit feasible on a good day from Tokyo

Pleasant in all periods. Less snow in warmer seasons


Warning: the ¥1,000 combined ticket valid for several temples ("World Heritage Pass") is no longer for sale since July 2013 on grounds of incompatibility between the different temples.

Construction work

Rinno-ji temple in a sarcophagus from 2007 to March 2021

Toshogu shrine renovation in stages between 2007 and March 2019

Both stay open during construction work

In Japanese

日光 (literally "sunlight")


Official website (in Japanese)