Take in the history, culture, and nature escapes of central Japan, using Tobu Railway’s non-stop train connection from Tokyo to Nikko, and discover all its blooming charms.
Train travel is a romantic way to travel across any country, especially Japan. With the Tobu Railway one of the most convenient ways to access not only Tokyo’s best sights by train but travel further afield. It is a super economical way to explore areas close to Tokyo for both day trips by train or overnight stays.
Nikko is a scenic area in central Japan steeped in history and nature, making for an excellent short-trip by train from Tokyo – as it’s only 2 hours non-stop on Tobu’s Limited Express train. As it departs from Tokyo Skytree Station, you have time to take explore the TOKYO SKYTREE and see cherry blossoms in Sumida Park before taking Tobu Railway’s non-stop train connection to enjoy all of Nikko’s spring offerings.
But first, Tokyo
Start your journey from the most incredible of views at the TOKYO SKYTREE, at an epic 634 meters in height. It is the world’s tallest broadcasting tower and the most elevated tower in Japan. Across two platforms witness the most stunning views of Tokyo. On clear days, you can even spot Mount Fuji from its Tembo Deck at 350 meters. Or climb higher to the Tembo Galleria at 450 meters which also boasts the Sky Restaurant Musashi with its “Edo chic and French cuisine”.
TOKYO SKYTREE is a short walk to the Sumida River and to Sumida Park, famous for cherry blossoms that bloom every spring (the best time for this is late March to early April). Wander the ground before heading to Sensoji, the oldest, and one of Tokyo’s most famous Buddhist, temples and is particularly stunning in springtime. With its gigantic red paper lantern, the temple’s Kaminarimon Gate (Thunder Gate) is one of Tokyo’s most well-known sights.
Next stop, Nikko
Nikko is nestled in Tochigi Prefecture, approximately 160 kilometres north of Tokyo. Nikko has attracted visitors since ancient times and today is one of Japan’s most popular tourist destinations. But what makes this region so unique? You’ll find an area filled with natural beauty – from its waterfalls to lakes. Plus, it’s home to historic shrines – including the famed trio of Toshogu Shrine, Nikko-zan Rinno-Ji Temple, and Nikko Futarasan Jinja Shrine which are so captivating it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.
Hike along the Senjogahara trail
Nikko National Park is one of the oldest national parks in Japan and features volcanoes, plateaus, lakes, and natural hot springs over 1,402 square kilometres. Its wooded highlands, maple and cedar trees, and mountain paths make it ideal for hiking. And in spring it’s lush and incredibly green. A popular trail is the Senjogahara which leads from Yudaki Falls to Ryuzu over a raised wooden course covering six kilometres. It offers incredible marshland and mountains views and takes around three hours to complete.
Visit UNESCO heritage temples
Toshogu Shrine, built in the early 17th century during the Edo period, is dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu (1524-1616), the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate. It is filled with adornments, including 5,173 carvings of flowers, dancing girls, Chinese sages, and mythical beasts. The vast stone gate that marks the entrance to the temple is reached by Cedar Avenue. This epic 37-kilometre scenic road is lined with 300-year-old cedar trees. It’s even featured in the Guinness Book of World Records as “the World’s Longest Tree-Lined Avenue” for its cedar tally of 12,350 trees!
Get up close to Kegon Falls
Nikko boasts 48 stunning waterfalls that emerge from Lake Chuzenji with Kegon Falls, at 97 metres in length, the most dramatic. Alongside the main central falls are twelve minor falls, called the Junitaki. There are many ways to see this watery sight up close. From a free observation deck to paid-for platforms that offer an even more intimate experience. Or take the elevator to a lookout point at the bottom of the gorge to feel the force of the water. Kegon Falls offers stunning views every season, especially in spring. While in winter, the water freezes as it drops, creating beautiful ice shapes that look like crystal art.
Take a hot bath at Kinugawa Onsen
A spa town just north of Nikko, situated in a ravine brimming with picturesque charm, Kinugawa Onsen is known for its open-air hot baths. These are surrounded by dramatic scenery with foliage that changes with the seasons. Worth a visit is the Kinugawa Hot Spring Shrine. Plus a ride in the gondola lift to the top of Monkey Mountain, home to Japanese macaques, is another must-do.
Where to stay in Nikko
The Ritz-Carlton Nikko: offers a lakefront setting and all the luxury hotel amenities you’d expect from the hotel group. With three restaurants, a spa, and a bar specialising in Japanese whiskeys.
Nikko Astrea Hotel: a one-hour drive from Nikko station set amongst the forest of Nikko National Park. Surrounded by nature and features an open-air hot spring bath.
Nikko Kanaya Hotel: the oldest resort hotel in Japan, which opened in 1873, has been enjoyed by many famous faces. Minutes from Shinkyo Bridge and a 15-minute walk to the main temples.
Access Japan by train
Tobu Railway is introducing the SPACIA X train on 15 July 2023. This Limited Express train connects Tokyo and Nikko with a new level of luxury to discover Japan by rail.
The NIKKO PASS All Area includes round-trip train fare between Toyko and Nikko. With unlimited Tobu buses and trains rides within the Nikko area and special discounts for certain sightseeing facilities.
The NIKKO PASS World Heritage Area is the ideal train pass in Japan for culture lovers. Plus, Kawagoe is an excellent day trip by train from Tokyo, especially if using the Kawagoe Train Pass.
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