This article was created in partnership with Tobu Railway
There’s a famous saying about the city of Nikko: “Never say kekko until you’ve seen Nikko”. ‘Kekko’ means both ‘beautiful’ as well as ‘to be satisfied’. This poetic line truly epitomises the grandeur of the Japanese city.
Nikko’s surrounding landscape, called Oku-Nikko, is a beautiful mountainous paradise that offers a peaceful respite from Japan’s bigger cities. With walking and hiking tracks aplenty, it’s long been a destination for local and international travellers to visit for its breathtaking natural and historic sites. Oku-Nikko is worth exploring at any time of the year, but the lush greenery that abounds in the warmer months makes it especially magical in the summer-time.
Nikko is a short two hours from Tokyo and easily accessible by Tobu Railway. The area is best explored with the Nikko Pass All Area, which covers return train fees to Tokyo, as well as unlimited bus and train travel in the area and special offers from participating shops and facilities.
What to see and do
The vast and sacred Lake Chuzenji was formed 20,000 years ago after the eruption of Mt Nantai. Historic and spiritual shrines and temples surround the lake, including the lavish Nikko Toshogu Shrine, as well as the Nikko Futarasan Shrine.
Water flows out of Lake Chuzenji through Kegon Waterfall, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Japan.
The beauty of Lake Chuzenji and its surrounds has been recognised internationally for years. Being the highest elevated lake in Japan also gives it a welcoming cooler climate in summer. The area has hosted many holiday homes for European embassies, including Italy and Britain. Though the villas are no longer used for official purposes, travellers can visit the former Italian villa, which boasts beautiful architecture and breathtaking views.
The Akechidaira Ropeway ascends through the mountains and offers visitors unparalleled views of Oku-Nikko, Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Waterfall. From Tobu Nikko Station, the Ropeway is easily accessed via a Tobu bus and Nikko Pass All Area.
What to eat
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a restaurant in Nikko that’s not serving something called ‘yuba’. Yuba is, essentially, the skin that forms on top of boiled soy milk. Yuba is a specialty of Nikko as well as Kyoto. However they have their differences; Nikko yuba is made from two delicate layers of the skin, whereas Kyoto yuba is made from a single layer. This gives the dish a different texture, and makes it worth trying in both cities.
Yuba can be served in a myriad of ways, like in a soup with tofu, or alongside seafood, as tempura, and even as a dessert!
Where to stay
While Nikko can be seen in a day trip from Tokyo, it’s worth staying a night or two to be able to take it all in.
The Kanaya Hotel was opened in 1873 and is Japan’s oldest resort hotel. Found close to Tobu Nikko Station, it offers a comfortable and welcoming stay in the city. The hotel group also has a location on the shore of Lake Chuzenji for those who prefer to be in amongst the landscape. The open-air natural hot springs at Chuzenji Kanaya hotel make it an even more tempting choice.
The Nikko Astraea Hotel is also found in the forest of Oku-Nikko. It also boasts a natural hot spring that is best enjoyed in the evening under the stars.
Return to Tokyo in the evening with the Nikko Pass All Area on Tobu Railway, and head straight to the iconic Tokyo Skytree, where the train drops you off. Here, you can enjoy unparalleled views over the whole city. For those who are daring, try the Skytree Terrace Tour and enjoy the view and feel the breeze from behind the building’s steel framework – not behind the glass windows. Afterwards, sit high above the city and enjoy dinner at Sky Restaurant 634.
The Nikko Pass All Area from Tobu Railway makes discovering the wonders of the Nikko region convenient and simple. Find out more from Tobu Japan Trip.