Top things to do in Nikkō

Top Choice Shinto Shrine in Nikkō

Tōshō-gū

A Unesco World Heritage Site in an idyllic natural setting, Tōshō-gū is a lavishly ornate Shinto complex within which Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616), the first shōgun and founder of the Tokugawa Bakufu (Japan's last fe…
Top Choice Shinto Shrine in Nikkō

Taiyūin-byō

Ieyasu's grandson Iemitsu (1604–51) is buried here, and although the shrine houses many of the same elements as Tōshō-gū (drum tower, Chinese-style gates etc), the more intimate scale, lighter tourist footfall and g…
Top Choice Kaiseki in Nikkō

Gyōshintei

Splash out on deluxe spreads of vegetarian shōjin-ryōri (Buddhist vegetarian cuisine), featuring local bean curd and vegetables served in delectable ways, or the kaiseki courses that include fish. The elegant tatami…
Gate in Nikkō

Yōmei-mon

Adorned in gold leaf and some 500 carved images depicting folk tales, mythical beasts and Chinese sages, the 'Sunset Gate' is the most revered traditional gate in Japan and a sight to behold. Worrying that its perfe…
Shinto Shrine in Nikkō

Futarasan-jinja

Set among cypress trees, this atmospheric shrine was founded by Shōdō Shōnin; the current building dates from 1619, making it Nikkō's oldest. It's the protector shrine of Nikkō itself, dedicated to Nantai-san (2484m…
Historic Site in Nikkō

Nikkō Tamozawa Imperial Villa Memorial Park

About 1km west of Shin-kyō bridge, this splendidly restored imperial palace (c1899) of more than 100 rooms showcases superb artisanship, with parts of the complex dating from the Edo, Meiji and Taishō eras. Apart fr…
Buddhist Temple in Nikkō

Rinnō-ji

This Tendai-sect temple was founded 1200 years ago by Shōdō Shōnin. The main hall (Sanbutsu-dō) houses a trio of 8m gilded wooden Buddha statues: Amida Nyorai (a primal deity in the Mahayana Buddhist canon) flanked …
Shinto Shrine in Nikkō

Takinō-jinja

About 1km north of the main World Heritage site complex, close to the Shiraito Falls, is this serene, delightfully less crowded shrine that has a history stretching back to 820. The stone gate, called Undameshi-no-t…
Park in Nikkō

Kanman-ga-Fuchi Abyss

Escape the crowds along this riverside path lined with a collection of Jizō statues (the small stone effigies of the Buddhist protector of travellers and children). It's said that if you try to count the statues the…
Shinto Shrine in Nikkō

Gōhonsha

The main shrine courtyard at Tōshō-gū includes the Honden (本殿; Main Hall) and Haiden (拝殿; Hall of Worship). Inside these halls are paintings of the 36 immortal poets of Kyoto, and a ceiling-painting pattern from the…