The Highlights of New Year's in Nikko

Recommended Length: 3 Days

Experience traditional Japanese culture during the New Year's holidays in Nikko. Participate in hatsumode—the first shrine or temple visit of the year—and sit in illuminated kamakura snow huts. Pick and eat juicy strawberries, play in the snow and relax in restorative hot springs.

Day 1

Nikko Station / Tobu-Nikko Station

By bus

5 minutes by World Heritage tour bus to the Shinkyo bus stop

World Heritage Sites

On Foot

10- to 30-minute walk

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

End of Day 1

Day 2

Nikko Station / Tobu-Nikko Station

Other

10 minutes from Tobu-Nikko Station to Shimoimaichi Station, then transfer and ride 20 minutes to Kinugawa-Onsen Station. Then a 10-minute taxi ride.

Fruit Picking

Strawberry Picking

A perfect balance of sweet and tart, Tochi-Otome are the prefecture’s specialty strawberries. Visitors can enjoy all-you-can-eat Tochi-Otome strawberries during a 30-minute picking session.

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Traditional Culture

Other

Take a 10-minute taxi to Kinugawa-Onsen Station. Ride 55 minutes on a bus bound for Yunishigawa Onsen to the last stop, then walk 10 minutes.

Activity

Snowshoe Tour

Explore Nikko’s winter landscape with a guided snowshoe tour. Kid-friendly tours are also available.

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Winter Activities

On Foot

Short walk

Accommodation

Yunishigawa Onsen

Following their defeat in the Genpei War (1180-1185), fleeing Heike (or Taira) warriors stopped here when they discovered an abundant hot spring on the riverbank. The mineral-rich waters helped to heal the warriors’ injuries, and they decided to settle by the spring, establishing Yunishigawa Onsen. Today, along with the resort’s soothing springs and magnificent nature, visitors can enjoy irori ryori (hearth cuisine) in which dishes are cooked over a traditional Japanese sunken hearth.

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HOT SPRING

Event

Yunishigawa Onsen Kamakura Snow House Festival

About 800 miniature kamakura (snow houses) are illuminated from inside with candles. There are also full-size kamakura—snow huts somewhat like igloos—which you can enter to enjoy a barbecue meal (reservations required).

*Yunishigawa Onsen Kamakura Snow House Festival has been cancelled in 2022.

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Winter

End of Day 2

Day 3

Yunishigawa Onsen

By bus

50 minutes from the Honkebankyu Ryokan-mae bus stop to Kinugawa Onsen. Change to a bus bound for Nikko Edomura and ride 20 minutes.

Theme Park

Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura

Experience the culture of the Edo period (1603-1867) at Edo Wonderland. Soak in the atmosphere of centuries ago as you stroll through the realistically recreated towns and samurai residences. Enjoy family-friendly events such as a thrilling ninja show, and dress up as a samurai or princess as you interact with period role-playing staff. Edo Wonderland combines history with expansive, theme park-style amusement for an extraordinary day out with plenty of fun photo opportunities.

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Entertainment & Leisure

By bus

20 minutes on a bus bound for the Kinugawa-Onsen Station, then a 5- to 10-minute walk from the last stop

Daytrip Onsen

Kinugawa Onsen

Kinugawa Onsen is actually made up of two hot springs—Taki Onsen on the west bank of the Kinugawa River, and Fujiwara Onsen on the east. It’s known for its relaxing properties and it attracts many travelers each year. Currently Kinugawa Onsen has over 80 hotels and ryokans, ranging from traditional Japanese style to modern Western style.

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HOT SPRING

On Foot

Short walk

Kinugawa-Onsen Station