A natural sanctuary that enshrines the glories of the Edo period (1603–1868), Nikkō (日光) is one of Japan's major attractions and a World Heritage Site. Pristine forests of towering cedars enclose a wealth of Shintō shrines and Buddhist temples that blend harmoniously with the topography of the setting, and reflect in their artistic splendour the awesome power of the Tokugawa shogunate.

All this, combined with the fact that Nikkō is only a couple of hours from Tokyo, means that in high season (summer and autumn) and at weekends, the magic of Nikkō can be somewhat lost amid the crowds. Spending the night here allows for an early start; a couple of nights and you can venture into the gorgeous mountain scenery, rivers, lakes and waterfalls of the surrounding area, much of it national park.

Explore Nikkō

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Nikkō.