Nikko, Japan

January 25, 2013 · 6 comments

It has been a while since I went exploring somewhere new by myself, and often on my trips between the Tohoku region (where I used to work, and where my wives parents live) and Tokyo (where I live now) I saw advertisement for Nikko. I knew it had a reputation for being beautiful and I should probably go someday. As it happens I found out about a 5 day unlimited train journey ticket that me and my wife used to get to Sendai for the equivalent of 2100 yen, each way (about $20/£15, usually its around 3500-7000yen depending on how you get there and how often you stop). Anyway this left us with 1 free day so I decided to use it to go to Nikko and discover what was so good about the place.

I’ll start with the conclusion: Nikko is now one of my favourite places in Japan. I was blown away byit’s beauty and landscape. It’s built all alongside a river which seems to lead up to a mountain range that seems to surround the city in a horseshoe fashion, so every direction has a mountainous background.

Nikko mountain range

Nikko Backdrop

Anyway, besides mountains, rivers, onsens and accompanying waterfalls (all of which fall under some of the top rated views in this already scenic country), the area (oh it’s all a UNESCO world heritage site too) offers temples, mausoleums and bridges, all nicely dated and well preserved to add to the atmosphere of the place. Interestingly it was one of the first resorts foreigners (the Brits!) headed too when they came to Japan, mostly because of it’s scenic beauty.

Unfortunately the most important and biggest temple (Rinnoji) is closed at the moment. So I couldn’t see the outside (it’s covered by a giant box with a picture of the temple or the inside). And just because you’re reading this article in the future from when I wrote it, that doesn’t mean it’s opened yet. The scheduled opening time is March 2021!. So another 8 years wait before I can capture the exterior properly. Tourists can still visit inside apparently, but it was closed and the whole area was dead when I went, no one else was around.

Rinnoji temple with structure outside

Rinnoji Temple. In a box

To get to Nikko you need to go to Utsunomiya and change to the Nikko line which is covered by any JR pass. Alternatively there is a Tobu line (another rail company) that goes there direct from Asakusa in Tokyo but the JR pass (which I had a variant of) doesn’t cover that line. The Nikko line and station is different from every other JR line I’ve seen in Japan so far. It is designed to look old and the carriages and signs are brown to give a old wooden style effect.

Nikko train sign Japan

Nikko Train stop

Once you are there you can walk down the main road to get to the famous Shinkyo bridge or you can walk along the riverside for spectacular views. It’s not supposed to be an attraction, but I spent a long time just taking photos there.

Nikko River

Nikko River

After you pass the Shinkyo bridge you can enjoy the main attractions listed at the start of the article (apologies for my out of order Quinten Tarrantino style post). Unfortunately as it was winter for me the sun set early so I only got a few shots of the temples. But fret not, because I know for a fact I will visit Nikko again. Many times probably. This is one place that’s definitely worth a day away from Tokyo to go and see.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Lorna January 26, 2013 at 9:07 PM

Sounds a nice place to visit, would like to have seen more of your photos you took.

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AdventureRob January 30, 2013 at 2:56 AM

I might have to put them in another post later. Most of my photos are of the same areas so there isn’t that much variety to be honest.

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Vi January 31, 2013 at 7:24 AM

Restoration takes 8 years? But you probably still will be there in 8 years :D
Vi´s latest blogpost – Ayers/Uluru rock. Climb it or not

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AdventureRob February 1, 2013 at 3:10 PM

It’s been going on for longer than that too. Not quite sure why it takes so long. Although I remember a naval ship in Portsmouth (UK) which had something like a 20 year restoration plan too. I guess they need to be careful with these sort of things.

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Adrian Qais February 7, 2013 at 11:02 AM

I love Nikko! My favourite memory was swimming in the river up there… So does this mean you are still kicking it around Japan?

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AdventureRob February 8, 2013 at 11:07 AM

I spent a long time photographing the river there, so much in fact I missed the majority of the attractions there.

I’m going to be in Japan for a long time, it’s my home now and my wife is Japanese.

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