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“Best of the Best Historical Site”

Nikko National Park
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Best of Edo Japan: Nikko National Park and Edo Wonderland Day Trip from Tokyo
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Nikko National Park Day Trip from Tokyo
Ranked #3 of 178 things to do in Nikko
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Reviewed 28 June 2014

UNESCO awarded this shrine complex Historic status in 1999. This is by far the most intricate and beautiful of all the shrine complexes in Japan. Even though this is a sacred areas, vendor stations fill the area with talismans, charms, and other icons--in a very tasteful way.

Thank Tonita777
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 26 June 2014

We spent 2 nights in the Nikko area as a short trip away from Tokyo, and it was a great contrast to the crazy chaos of the city. If you're looking to get away from Tokyo but can't travel too far, this is a good option. Really easy to get to and plenty to see. Couple of things: be aware that the Tobu train from Tokyo splits in two so you need to be in the right carriage; trains between the two main tourist areas in Nikko become infrequent after about 4pm; some hotels won't have any english speakers so be prepared to adopt "international hand gestures" to communicate if you're Japanese is limited; and you don't need to stay in Nikko town to explore the area - if you pay attention to the train timetable to you can easily stay in some of the lovely hotels near Kinugawa and reach Nikko national park by train.

There are a couple of value passes for Nikko which you can buy, covering the round trip from Tokyo (departing Asakusa and Tokyo Sky Tree stations) and bus/train rides between areas once you arrived, and they're worth checking out. We bought a 4 day Nikko pass from the Tobu Travel Agency office downstairs at the Asakusa Tobu Rail Station (note: this is in a different location to the Asakusa Metro station. Ask at the Asakusa tourist building, which is directly opposite the Sensoji Temple, for directions if you get lost). Staff in the Tobu travel office are really helpful so feel free to ask which pass gives the best value for your trip - I nearly bought a 2 day pass but I'm glad I double checked with them, otherwise my ticket wouldn't have been valid for my return journey. Passes are valid for the rapid/section rapid trains, which are a little tired and stop at every little place on the way. You can pay extra to upgrade to the Express train which is faster and allows for more flexible travelling between Nikko town and Kinugawa Onsen, but I'm not sure you really need it. We bought ours right before we travelled, so I don't think you need to book. Platforms are upstairs in the station, and make sure you choose the correct carriage as the train splits at Shimo-Imaichi - front carriages go to Kinugawa, rear 2 to Nikko town (the platform has signs to show you).

Nikko is essentially made up of two areas worth visiting - the main Nikko national park which is accessed from Nikko town by a really convenient bus outside the Nikko train station. This has the famous shrines, bridge, Kegon falls and Lake Chizunji and seriously dramatic scenery. This bus is included if you buy one of the Nikko passes, otherwise it's quite pricey. Then there's the Kinugawa Onsen area, which has rapids, a rope walk, monkey viewing platform and famous hot springs. The two areas aren't directly linked by train, they're more like two prongs of a fork and you have to change at Shimo-Imaichi station if you want to travel between them. This is doable, takes about 40 minutes to go from Kinugawa Onsen to Nikko town via Shimo imaichi, but the connections get infrequent after about 4pm unless you ride the Limited Express (about 300 yen extra per ride if you didn't upgrade your pass). Faced with a 2hr wait for a train from Shimo-Imaichi to our hotel in Kosagoe (one stop before Kinugawa Onsen), we decided to pay the 300 yen extra to ride the express only to find it didn't stop in our tiny village, so ended up getting a taxi (1900 yen!) from Kinugawa. Teach us for not checking the timetable!

We managed the Kegon falls, Lake Chizunji and a hike up part of Mount Nantai in one day. I would have liked to have visited the Kinugawa Onsen area too, especially as we were more conveniently based for this, but we ran out of time.

Basically pay attention to the timetable and map you get with your Nikko pass from the Tobu travel agency and plan your travel times and you will be fine. The bus ride up to the Nikko national park is great in itself as you get a sense of just how high up you're going (once you're there, you easily forget!).

Platforms for the train are upstairs in the station, and *make sure you get on the correct carriage*. Nikko is essentially served by a train line which forks in two directions: one to Nikko town, the other to Kinugawa Onsen. Trains split at the junction between these destinations, but there are signs on the platform floor and in the carriages themselves which tell you the final destination.

27  Thank Katie M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 June 2014

This was the best day we spent outside Tokyo! Nikko was easy to get to on the train and main attractions are a short bus ride from the station. If you enjoy walking, this will be a great place to visit. A few temples are under renovation but there is still a lot to see. It was actually very interesting to see how the renovation is being done when you go inside the temple. Amazing temples and serene gardens! Definitely a must see! A bus ride to the lake was beautiful on the mountain winding road. But if you don't have enough time, you can skip the falls.

Thank TRyana
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 May 2014 via mobile

One of Japan's most beautiful nature sceneries. Don't rush it and take your time to take in all the beautiful places that surround Nikko and the lake. Best in an open car or better even if you rent a motorbike. Winter can be beautiful but I prefer Autumn.

1  Thank Tommaso_Japan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 May 2014

Another must see!
Lots and lots of walking. Waterfalls, mountains, monkeys, volcanos, winding roads...Do not miss this one!

Thank MelissaS2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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