The first temple in Nikko was founded more than 1,200 years ago along the shores of the Daiya River. However, in 1616, the dying Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu made it known that his final wish was for his successors to “Build a small shrine in Nikkō and enshrine me as the God. I will be the guardian of peace keeping in Japan.”
As a result, the place became home to the mausoleums of the Tokugawa Shoguns, which are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Unlike most Japanese temples and shrines, the buildings here are extremely gaudy and ornate, with multicolored carvings and plenty of gold leaf, and show heavy Chinese influence. Some sense of dignity is restored by a magnificent forest of over 13,000 cedar trees, covering the entire area.
However, all the grandeur the Shoguns created is now overshadowed in the eyes of many visitors by a remarkable trio of small wooden carvings on a stable wall: the famous three wise monkeys.
Nikko lies in beautiful forested countryside: nearby Lake Chuzenji is a popular destination for Japanese campers. Around the temples is a impressive forest of cedars.
There are also many famous hot springs (onsen) in the area. The mountains west of the city are part of Nikkō National Park, and contain some of the country’s most spectacular waterfalls and scenic trails.
- From Tokyo Asakusa Station to Tobu-Nikko Station by Tobu-Nikko trains (1h50)
- Take a full day excursion to Nikko with English-speaking guide
Nikko on our Google map