It takes approximately 2 hours of drive to get to Nikko from Tokyo.
In Japan they say ‘Never say 'kekko' until you've seen Nikko’, with kekko meaning ‘beautiful’, ‘magnificent’ or ‘I am satisfied’, which is a reflection of the beauty and sites of Nikko. It is a small historical town and hot spring and spa resort around hour and a half of drive away from Tokyo.
As the local legend says, Shodo Shonin, famous Japanese Buddhist monk, established the temple of Rinno-ji in 766, followed by the temple of Chuzen-ji by the lake. The village of Nikko has developed around these temples though, according to some historical accounts, a small Shinto shrine has existed here since the 4th century.
We will start exploring Nikko with visiting Tosho-gu shrine, the most famous Shinto temple here. It was completed in 1617 and became a major draw of visitors to the area during the Edo period. The shrine is known as the burial place of the famous Japanese shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, probably Japan’s paramount warrior. Even today thousands of Japanese regularly make ritual trips to Nikko to see the Tokugawa’s tomb and enjoy local scenery.
Other local must-see attractions are the Futarasan shrine and Rinno-ji temple. These landmarks along with the Tosho-gu shrine form the UNESCO World Heritage Site Shrines and Temples of Nikko. Stepping into the Rinno-ji temple, you would see the sacred sculpture ‘The Three wise monkeys’ expressing the Buddhist philosophy of ‘See no evil, hear no evil, say no evil’.
We will then walk over the Sacred Bridge crossing the Daiya River and belonging to the Futarasan shrine. This beautiful vermilion lacquered structure is known as one of the three most beautiful bridges in Japan and is a perfect gateway for Nikko. No doubt, the bridge was also registered as a World Heritage.
Finally, we’ll stroll down to enjoy a magnificent view of the Kegon Falls, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Japan.
You’ll get back to Tokyo after the excursion is over.