Nikko is a photographer’s dream. Discover beautiful, camera-worthy moments, from majestic temples and shrines to dramatic landscapes. Every season brings charming sights and experiences. Explore the changing colors of the lakes, rivers and mountains, and the magic of candle-lit snow houses and landscapes blanketed with soft winter white. Immerse yourself in far-away lands or step back in time to the days of samurai and ninjas. Just be sure to have your camera ready to capture unforgettable moments.
The World Heritage shrines and temples of Nikko draw visitors and photographers with their striking beauty. Be sure to include Nikko Toshogu Shrine, Nikkozan Rinno-ji Temple, and Nikko Futarasan-jinja Shrine on your itinerary. Nikko Toshogu Shrine is a breathtaking shrine complex completed in 1636 as the final resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate (1603–1867). The buildings are covered with ornate carvings, and look gorgeous from every angle. Don’t miss a shot of the famous three monkeys in “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” poses. The gilded Yomeimon Gate is another photo-worthy spot. Pass through the gate and head towards the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu. On the way, look up to capture another famous carving, “the sleeping cat.” The vermillion main hall of Nikko Futarasan-jinja Shrine (completed 1619) contrasts with the deep green of the surrounding forests for a classic image of Japanese beauty and culture. In spring, the shrine buildings are framed by cherry blossoms. Be sure to get a photo of the sacred Shinkyo Bridge, which is part of the sacred site. In fall, visitors flock to get a photo of the striking red bridge over Daiya River, framed by colorful foliage. The bridge is also striking in summer when framed by fresh greenery, and in winter, a gentle layer of snow creates a beautiful contrast with the red bridge. Visit early in the morning for beautiful photos without the crowds. For breathtaking shots of a winter wonderland, visit Nikko when soft, powdery snow dusts the scenery. Evenings are illuminated by candle and lantern light from late-January to early-March during the Yunishigawa Onsen Kamakura Snow House Festival. Experience the fairytale scene of around 800 candle-lit, miniature snow houses (kamakura) alongside the Sawaguchi Riverbed near Yunishigawa Onsen. Some larger snow huts are big enough to enter. Some events may be canceled, so check before planning a visit.