Nikko - Japanspecialist
The shrine in Nikko is Japan's second most popular tourist attraction after Kyoto, and this masterpiece in pomp and splendour is an experience like no other. The town is approx. 90 min. by train northeast from Tokyo and is a good excursion destination for a one-day trip. If you take a bus there, you can choose to drive along Irohazaka, a mountain road full of hairpin turns in a gorgeous landscape. Note that Nikko is to the north and well up in the mountains, so it can be up to 10 degrees colder than Tokyo.
Toshogu - sumptuous shrine and mausoleum
Nikko's hallmark is Toshogu, the shrine and mausoleum of the mighty shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa. He was the undisputed leader of Japan and his clan ruled the country during the period 1603-1868, along with an army of samurai warriors. Toshogu was built in the mid-17th century by 15,000 of Japan's most skilled craftsmen, and the buildings differ markedly from other shrines in Japan. Richly ornamented and colourful, quite different from the minimalism Japan is otherwise known for. 2.5 million layers of gold leaf were used in the creation process. Spend some time looking at all the detailed woodcuts - including the world-famous figure of the three monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. The entire shrine is a powerful symbol of the wealth and power of the Tokugawa clan. It was in many ways a brutal rule, but today, the Tokugawa era is also remembered with pride as a time when Japanese art and morality flourished.
Other attractions in Nikko
In the beautiful Nikko National Park are the Kegon Falls and Lake Chuzenji, which surrounds Nikko's sacred mountain, the Nantai volcano. There are many nice hiking opportunities in the area as well as cosy inns with natural hot springs. Not far from Nikko is Kinugawa Onsen, a popular area for overnight stays. Here you will find Edo Wonderland, an amusement park based in ancient Japan where samurai and geisha walk the streets, and there is a ninja show to see. Perfect for kids!