Nikko Through the Lens

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.


Classic Nikko

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.


Natural Beauty

On a fine day, the Akechidaira Ropeway offers dramatic views of a sapphire blue Lake Chuzenji, towering Kegon-no-taki Falls, and cone-shaped Mt. Nantai. The observation deck is the ideal spot to snap shots of the lake and Mt. Nantai. Visitors can enjoy colorful foliage in the fall and snow-dusted scenery in the winter. Three sides of Lake Yunoko are surrounded by forested mountains. Romantic sunrises offer the chance to capture misty mountain vistas, while sunsets bathe the lake and mountains in soft colors. Walk the scenic trail that wraps around the lake’s perimeter and visit Usagi-jima, a small peninsula that offers the ideal spot for photos. From late-September to mid-October, the reds and yellows of fall foliage are reflected onto the lake’s surface. Ryuo Valley near the upper reaches of the Kinugawa River, features emerald waters and diverse, geological formations. An easy hiking path covers the valley between Kinugawa Onsen and Kawaji Onsen, or you can stroll to the canyon from nearby Ryuokyo Station. Walk to the middle of Musasabi Bridge or Nijimi Bridge for a sweeping view of this natural work of art. Take a boat cruise down the Kinugawa River for a different perspective. Cruises start near Kinugawa Onsen Station.


Finding Fantasy

Step back in time at Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura, and enjoy kimono strolls through an amusement park recreating a village from the Edo period. In addition to the village’s photogenic backdrops such as temples, gardens and traditional wooden row houses, you may see roaming ninja and samurai. Enjoy an immersive experience, from interacting with the impeccably-costumed Edo villagers to trying traditional games and tasty snacks. Tobu World Square is an architectural museum filled with highly detailed miniature recreations of some of the world’s most famous buildings. There are six areas divided by country. Feel like a giant as you snap a selfie with the Statue of Liberty at the America zone or head over to the Egypt zone to pose with a pyramid backdrop. From April to late-May, the Alpine Rose Park bursts with 170 varieties of colorful roses. The park has audio guides that give explanations on each exhibit as well as binoculars for a detailed view. From the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries, Lake Chuzenji was a popular summer getaway for Tokyo’s foreign population, and many countries built their summer villas by the lake. At the Italian Embassy Villa Memorial Park, enjoy the gorgeous wooden villas built for the Italian ambassador in 1928 by the Czech-American architect, Antonin Raymond. The main residence was built in harmony with nature, with distinctive checkerboard patterns of cedar bark and herringbone patterns of bamboo adding a stylish touch to interiors and exteriors. For a different architectural style, visit the nearby British Embassy Villa Memorial Park. This former summer retreat was built in 1896 for Ernest Satow—a British diplomat and pioneer Japanologist. It also served as the British Embassy for many years. The stylish blackened wood villa has been restored with wide verandas overlooking the lake, for perfect photo opportunities.

Areas of Nikko