日光市 ,  Nikko literally means sunlight.

Nikko is a town at the entrance to Nikko National Park, most famous for Toshogu, Japan’s most lavishly decorated shrine and the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate. 

Nikko had been a center of Shinto and Buddhist mountain worship for many centuries before Toshogu was built in the 1600s, and Nikko National Park continues to offer scenic, mountainous landscapes, lakes, waterfalls, hot springs, wild monkeys and hiking trails.

Nikko and the Okunikko area around Lake Chuzenji, in particular, are well known for their beautiful autumn colors (koyo). In the average year the colors start descending from the higher elevations of Yumoto Onsen in early October, are best around Lake Chuzenji and the Irohazaka road in mid to late October and reach the town of Nikko in the first half of November.


Nikko is located along Japan’s Romantic Road.


Together with Nikkō Tōshō-gū and Rinnō-ji, it forms the Shrines and Temples of Nikkō,a world heritage Site. The shrine possesses two swords that are National treasures of Japan. Additionally, dozens of buildings and cultural artifacts are listed as Important Cultural Assets.
The Sacred Bridge crossing the Daiya River. This beautiful vermilion lacquered structure is known as one of the three most beautiful bridges in Japan and is a perfect gateway for Nikko.
神橋 – Stands at the entrance to Nikko’s shrines and temples, and technically belongs to Futarasan Shrine. The bridge is ranked as one of Japan’s three finest bridges.
According to legend, a priest named Shodo and his followers climbed Mt. Nantai in the year 766 to pray for national prosperity. However, they could not cross the fast flowing Daiya River. Shodo prayed and a 10 foot tall god named Jinja-Daiou appeared with two snakes twisted around his right arm. Jinja-Daiou released the blue and red snakes and they transformed themselves into a rainbow-like bridge covered with sedge, which Shodo and his followers could use to cross the river. That is why this bridge is sometimes called Yamasugeno-jabashi, which means the “Snake Bridge of Sedge”.

Tōshōgū – The burial place of dynasty founder Tokugawa Ieyasu and the most extravagant of the lot. Ieyasu was buried here immediately after his death, but the present complex was only built in 1634 on the order of his grandson Iemitsu. The shrine took 2 years to complete with the efforts of 15,000 workers.

東照宮 is the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa shogunate, which ruled Japan for over 250 years until 1868. The shrine is dedicated to the spirits of Ieyasu and two other of Japan’s most influential historical personalities, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Minamoto Yoritomo.

The lavishly decorated shrine complex consists of more than a dozen Shinto and Buddhist buildings set in a beautiful forest. Initially a relatively simple mausoleum, Toshogu was enlarged into the spectacular complex seen today by Ieyasu’s grandson Iemitsu during the first half of the 17th century.

Yomei-mon Gate  is an incredibly ornate gate with over 400 carvings squeezed in.To the right of the main hall is the way to Ieyasu’s tomb, entry to which costs an extra ¥520. Look out for another famous carving, this time of a sleeping cat (nemuri-neko). There are 200 stone steps, and steep ones at that; and then you finally reach the surprisingly simple gravesite itself.

陽明門 has Countless wood carvings and large amounts of gold leaf were used to decorate the buildings in a way not seen elsewhere in Japan, where simplicity has been traditionally stressed in shrine architecture. 

After two flights of steps you will reach the Sacred Stable, housing a white horse. The most famous symbol here is the carving of the three wise monkeys, who “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil”. They’re part of a curious series of carvings about the life cycle of a monkey, from giddy childhood to fearful old age.


Nearby, you can also find an interesting carving of an interesting approximation of an elephant, carved by an artist who had clearly never seen one.



This carving here, on the left, is not an elephant. Its called a Baku, and in Japanese mythology, its a creature which eats your dreams.

Yakushi-dō Hall 薬師堂, the Hall of the Medicine Buddha, is known for a dragon painting on the ceiling. A monk is usually on hand to speak and strike a special block whose sharp, piercing sound is said to be identical to the cry of a dragon.       

Taiyuinbyo – After completing Toshogu, Iemitsu himself was buried here. Smaller in scale (but not by much), this is generally held to be artistically superior to its predecessor.



Playing in the snow~

Mt. Nantai – The sacred mountain of Nikko.
Lake Chuzenji is a scenic lake in the mountains above the town of Nikko.
It is located at the foot of Mount Nantai, Nikko’s sacred volcano, whose eruption blocked the valley below, thereby creating Lake Chuzenji about 20,000 years ago.

The almost 100 meter tall Kegon Waterfall 華厳滝 is the most famous of Nikko’s many beautiful waterfalls. In fact, it is even ranked as one of Japan’s three most beautiful falls.

Kegon Waterfall is the only exit for the waters of Lake Chuzenji. It can be seen from a free observation platform that is easily accessible on foot, as well as from a paid platform at the base of the falls. The paid platform is accessed via a 100 meter deep elevator and offers the more impressive views.

The sight of Kegon Waterfall in combination with Lake Chuzenji can be enjoyed from Akechidaira Observatory, which is accessible by ropeway from Akechidaira Plateau. 

Kegon Waterfall is also a popular autumn color spot. The trees around the waterfall are usually most colorful from mid to late October.
In the winter, the waterfall is impressive as well, when it freezes almost completely solid.
This here is 日光猿, They’re cute, and they run wild~ ʕ•ω•ʔ



Dried Vegetables. Yummy!
Toshugu Pictures:
二荒山神社 – A Shinto shrine in the city of Nikkō, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan
Futarasan jinja
Futarasan enshrines three deities: Ōkuninushi, Tagorihime, and Ajisukitakahikone.
It is located between Nikko Tosho-gu and the Taiyuinbyo. Many visitors go to all three, as well as to Rinno-ji.
Futasaran Pictures:

Taiyuinbyo Pictures:
Taiyuinbyo is the mausoleum of the third Tokugawa shogun, Iemitsu, the grandson of Ieyasu.
The Taiyuinbyo resembles the Toshogu in its layout and lavish decorations, but it is intentionally kept more modest than the Toshogu.
Like the Toshogu, the Taiyuinbyo combines many Shinto and Buddhist elements.
Shinkyo Bridge
This much-photographed red bridge separates the shrines from the town of Nikko. In feudal times, only the shogun was permitted to cross the bridge, and even today it’s barred from traffic.
Shinkyo bridge has been rebuilt many times but has followed the same design pattern since 1636, when it could be used only by messengers of the Imperial court. It has been opened to the general public since 1973.
The shrines and temples of Nikko, together with their natural surroundings, have for centuries been a sacred site known for its architectural and decorative masterpieces.

About Joshua Hideki

Hi! I'm Hideki. You can call me Josh! ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ Welcome!!~ This is a Travel Blog covering Japan, and many other bits & pieces of my personal life. Photography, Blogging, Fashion & Traveling in Style. A travel guide for everyone with these passions. Absorb the mesmerizing atmosphere, take in amazing sights & let the enchanting ambiance take you away as you embrace different cultures & see the world through my eyes - my Eternal Memories. Visit my Blog at: JoshuaHideki.com ! Come discover Japan from the inside with me and also we'll provide you with the best destinations to visit; and that includes the rest of the World too! Please enjoy! Discover Japan & Travel the World with me!! Life is precious, you only have one so live it to the fullest!

3 thoughts on “☀Nikko

  1. […] After a late late night of partying! Look at all that thrash! Autumn‘s Red, Winter‘s Blue & so are You! Take a look into my fridge… ❂ Beautiful sunny day! […]

  2. […] There are Catholic Churches, Christian Churches, Chinese Temples, Japanese Buddhist Temples & Japanese Shinto Shrines; and if you look hard enough, I’m sure you be able to find many […]

  3. […] There’s also statues of three monkeys covering different parts of their face, signifying; see no evil, hear no evil & speak no evil. This reminds me of a very similar counterpart back in Japan, which is in Nikko – at the Toshogu, which is the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu. […]

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