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Nikko Itinerary And Travel Guide

Nikko Itinerary And Travel Guide

Location: 3 min read

Food and Travel blogger, Melissa Hie, takes on a short day trip to Nikko, a small city in Japan’s Tochigi Prefecture, in the mountains north of Tokyo. Best known for its vast and rich nature as well as Historical Shrines and Temples, away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. 

Credit: Melissa Hie

Nikko is well-known for its natural beauty (waterfalls, hikes, and onsen) as well as its UNESCO heritage sites. Located only 125km north from Tokyo, you can enjoy this area as a day trip or as a short 2-day trip, though some visitors opt to spend as much as 4 days and explore the outer Nikko region.

Credit: Melissa Hie

The best time to visit Nikko, like any other mountainous region in Japan, is during the Sakura season in Spring or Autumn Foliage season in Fall. It would be extra beautiful during these seasons! I personally went in mid-May and found it to be a very comfortable visit. It wasn’t too cold or hot, and I was even still able to catch glimpses of the Sakura flower as they bloom a bit later due to the colder climate in the mountains.

Credit: Melissa Hie

This red bridge is hard to miss, as it is located between Nikko Central town and the entrance to Nikko National Park. The name “Shinkyo” means sacred, and this bridge dates back to 1636. It is one of Japan’s three finest bridges – so it’s definitely worth a look.

Toshogu Shrine
Credit: Melissa Hie

Nikko National Park is undoubtedly the reason why many visitors ended up in Nikko. This is where all the shrines and temples are located, and yup! These are the ones that earned Nikko its claim to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Toshogu Shrine serves as the final resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, one of the unifiers of Japan. 

Kegon Falls
Credit: Melissa Hie
Ryuzu Falls
Credit: Melissa Hie

Kegon Falls was beautiful and majestic, but personally, I enjoyed Ryuzu Falls more. It’s a smaller waterfall compared to Kegon, but not only were there fewer people, but it’s also free to view.

Credit: Melissa Hie

I recommend stopping at Ryuzu Falls for lunch as there’s also a cozy little restaurant right by the waterfall. In fact, it’s probably the best way to enjoy the waterfall. You can get a seat facing the water while enjoying some delicious Japanese food. I recommend the Yuba soba here!

Credit: Melissa Hie

Lake Yunoko can be circled in about 1 hour of leisure walking on foot. I highly recommend this since it’s a really easy walk, and very quiet too! You might see some fishermen in the lake.

Credit: Melissa Hie

You definitely can’t miss Yuba while you’re in Nikko, it’s practically everywhere. If you love tofu or soybean, specifically soybean curd, you’ll love Yuba. Tofu is one of my favorite foods so I immediately fell in love with Yuba, a rolled-up soybean curd! If you’ve had hot pot before, Yuba is very similar to tofu skin, except it’s served rolled up and really, part of the fun in eating it (at least for me!) is to unroll them slowly. I think Yuba a bit softer than the Chinese tofu skin though.

Credit: Melissa Hie

We stayed at the Hotel Kinugawa Sunshine, an older hotel (probably built in the 80s) located about a 15-minute drive from Nikko Central.  Although it is old, the hotel is well maintained and the rooms are spacious. It’s also located in a more remote and very quiet area, so definitely this will be a relaxing place for a getaway! When you get into your hotel, you might be wondering… where the heck is the bed? Well, they magically appear at night as part of the “turn down” service.

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Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! The festival is actually this Friday, and it's an important day that is celebrated across east asian culture – namely Chinese (Moon festival), Japanese (Tsukimi – literal translation of “Moon Viewing”) and Korean (Chuseok / Hangawi). Though the name differs, it seems to share the same values of family gathering in celebration of full harvest moon – hence the mooncake! In Chinese tradition, the mooncake is a delicacy shared by families at Mid-Autumn celebration. The round shape symbolizes completeness and reunion. These days, mooncake is also offered as gifts for business clients. This has resulted in fancy mooncakes by luxury hotels and bakeries. In Singapore, a good mooncake can cost $78 for a box of 8! There are different types of mooncake these days, from different fillings (lotus paste, egg yolk, durian) to different types of skin (traditional baked skin or soft snowskin)! I've been having different types of mooncake thanks to my friend @chipxmunk There are many variations of legends associated with this festival but my favorite is the one about a selfless rabbit. The story goes: Once upon a time, three deities from the Moon transformed themselves into poor old men and went begging for food on earth. They encountered a monkey, a fox and a rabbit. The monkey and fox gave them food, but the rabbit was poor and did not have anything to spare. The rabbit decided to throw itself into a fire so that the old men can have food. The deities were so touched by the rabbit’s selfless act that they let the rabbit live in the Moon Palace with them. Might sound like a crazy story, but apparently “Rabbit that lives in the moon” is observed in many east asian and even aztec culture. This is believed to have originated from markings on the moon that resembles a rabbit, which can be seen during the full moon. #shotoniphone #girleatworld #midautumnfestival #mooncake

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Nikko Itinerary And Travel Guide