Slurp Fresh Soba Surrounded by Vibrant Leaves

Recommended Length: 2 Days

Autumn sees Nikko's World Heritage temples and shrines shrouded in colorful leaves, and it's also the best season to sample soba. Savor noodles made with freshly yielded buckwheat and enjoy spectacularly illuminated autumn leaves at night.

Day 1

Kami-Imaichi Station

On Foot

Short walk

Leaves

Nikko Suginamiki Kaido (Nikko Cedar Avenue)

Stretching over 35 kilometers, Nikko Suginamiki Kaido is the longest tree-lined road in the world. The towering cedar trees on both sides of the path were originally planted in the Edo period to provide a suitably regal approach to Nikko Toshogu Shrine. Around 200,000 were planted over a 20-year period, and today some 12,500 remain.

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Nature

On Foot

10-minute walk

Soba

By bus

15 minutes from Kami-Imaichi Station on a bus bound for Nikko Toshogu to the Shinkyo bus stop

Sightseeing

Shinkyo Bridge

At 28 meters long and nearly eight meters wide, the beautiful, vermilion-lacquered Shinkyo Bridge sits at the entrance to the Nikko mountains. According to legend, Buddhist monk Shodo, the first head priest of Nikko, asked the mountain deities for help crossing the Daiya River, at which point two snakes appeared and transformed into a bridge. The bridge belongs to Nikko Futarasan-jinja Shrine and was designated a World Heritage site in 1999.

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History & Culture

On Foot

10-minute walk

World Heritage Sites

Nikkosan Rinnoji Temple

Originally known as Shihonryuji Temple, Nikkosan Rinnoji Temple was founded 1,200 years ago by Buddhist monk Shodo, who served as the first head priest of Nikko. Sanbutsudo Hall, the temple’s main building, is one of the largest wooden structures in Nikko, and houses eight-meter-tall gold statues of the Thousand-armed Buddha of Mt. Nantai, the Amida Buddha of Mt. Nyoho and the Horse-headed Buddha of Mt. Taro. Nikkosan Rinnoji Temple also includes a treasure house with National Treasure sutras and Buddha statues, as well as the Japanese garden Shoyoen, featuring a placid pond.

Sanbutsudo Hall is undergoing renovation until March 2021. During this period, the interior can be viewed from a special elevated area.

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History & Culture

Accommodation

Nikko Onsen

Near the World Heritage temples and shrines of Nikko is a legendary hot spring, allegedly discovered by Kobo Daishi (founder of Shingon Buddhism). Though the location of Kobo Daishi’s Muso-no-yu (hot spring of imagination) was not known for a long time, it’s thought to have been rediscovered in 1985, and is now simply called Nikko Onsen. Its clear, pure water is said to be good for the skin, and is a perfect treatment for the aches brought on by walking around all of the city’s World Heritage sites.

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HOT SPRING

Event

Light-up Nikko

For one weekend in November, Nikko’s World Heritage shrines and temples are beautifully illuminated to create a magical atmosphere. During the event, free guided tours with English-speaking guides are available.

*Light-up Nikko has been cancelled in 2020.

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Autumn

End of Day 1

Day 2

Nikko Station / Tobu-Nikko Station

On Foot

45-minute walk

Nature

Kanmangafuchi Abyss

Located near the Daiya River, Kanmangafuchi Abyss is a small gorge created by an eruption from Mt. Nantai around 7,000 years ago. From the riverside path, you can see several small statues of jizo, a bodhisattva said to protect children, women and travelers. There are around 70 jizo, but legend holds that the number changes each time you try to count them. Near the upper stream you’ll spot some Sanskrit characters carved into the cliff, said to have been written by Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism.

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Nature

By bus

10 minutes from the Sogokaikan-mae bus stop to Nikko Station. Transfer to a bus bound for Kirifurikogen and ride 15 minutes to the Kirifurinotaki bus stop. Walk about 10 minutes.

Waterfall

Kirifuri Falls

One of the three great waterfalls of Nikko (along with Kegon and Ryuzu), 75-meter-high, two-tiered Kirifuri Falls flow into the Kirifuri River. Splashing off rocks on the way down, the water descends as a fine mist (kiri), after which the falls were named. The nearby observation deck is the best place from which to view the falls, especially when surrounded by warm autumn colors.

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Nature

By bus

15 minutes by bus to Nikko Station

Nikko Station / Tobu-Nikko Station