The first temple in Nikko was founded more than 1,200 years ago along the shores of the Daiya River. However, in 1616, the dying Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu made it known that his final wish was for his successors to "Build a small shrine in Nikko and enshrine me as the God. I will be the guardian of peace keeping in Japan." As a result, Nikko became home of the mausoleums of two Tokugawa Shoguns, Tokugawa Ieyasu and his grandson, Tokugawa Iemitsu, which are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Unlike most Japanese temples and shrines, the buildings here are extremely gaudy and ornate, with multicolored carvings and plenty of gold leaf, and show heavy Chinese influence. Some sense of dignity is restored by a magnificent forest of over 13,000 cedar trees, covering the entire area.
However, for all of the grandeur the shoguns could muster, they're now over-shadowed in the eyes of many visitors by a trio of small wooden carvings on a stable wall: the famous three wise monkeys.
A famous Japanese saying proclaims Nikko wo minakereba "kekkō" to iu na. Most tourist literature translates this as "Don't say 'magnificent' until you've seen Nikko", but there's another dimension to this Japanese pun: it can also mean "See Nikko and say 'enough'", since "kekkō" is used in Japanese as a very polite way of declining an offer and many find Nikko's shrines to be much too gaudy.
If landing in Tokyo, it's recommended that you spend one night within Tokyo before heading north to Nikko. In case you plan on going to Nikko straight away, head to the train:
From Narita Airport, take the Narita Sky Access commuter rail service to Asakusa station and change to one of the Tobu services listed below (¥3990 on the fastest services). From Haneda Airport, take the Keikyu Airport Line train service in the direction of Shinagawa and continue north via the Asakusa subway line to Asakusa station, and change to one of the Tobu services listed below (¥3360 on the fastest services). Allow between 3 and 4 hours to travel to Nikko from either airport.
The fastest and most convenient way to access Nikko is on the private Tōbu Nikkō Line (東武日光線) from Tokyo's Tobu-Asakusa station. From the Tokyo Asakusa station, take exit 4, and the Tobu train station is visible once you reach street level -- it's at the same intersection.
Tōbu Railway runs all-reserved limited express services, known as tokkyū (特急) trains, to the area. These trains, which use Tobu's "SPACIA" railroad equipment, have comfortable, reclining seats, with vending machines and KIOSK available on most trains. One service, called Kegon (けごん) runs directly from Asakusa to Nikko in the morning, and back to Asakusa in the afternoon. There is one daily departure from Asakusa at 7:30AM, and depending on the season, there may be an additional departure at 9:30AM. The other service, Kinu (きぬ), departs from Asakusa more frequently, but branches off to Kinugawa so you will need to transfer at Shimo-Imaichi station (下今市) to a local train for the final 10-minute run to Nikko. This train is timed to meet the Kinu arrival. Both the Kegon run, and the Kinu run with transfer, take about 1 hour and 50 minutes.
Regular direct trains, which depart from Asakusa about each hour, cost ¥1360 each way. Rapid, or Kaisoku (快速) trains, take two hours; the slower Section Rapid, or Kukan-Kaisoku (区間快速) takes 2 1/2 hours. You must board one of the last two cars, since the train divides en route.
In addition, Tōbu Railway offers a few convenient passes for Nikko and the Kinugawa hot spring area, which can be used only by visitors to Japan. Note that these passes do not include admission to the shrines.
- 2 Day Nikko Pass allows unlimited train access in the Nikko and Kinugawa areas, unlimited bus travel between the JR/Tobu Nikko train stations and Nikko's main temples and shrines, and includes some discounts for nearby attractions. ¥2670 for two consecutive days. This pass replaces the former World Heritage Pass, which is no longer sold.
- All Nikko Pass allows unlimited train access in the Nikko and Kinugawa areas, unlimited bus travel between the JR/Tobu Nikko train stations and Chuzenji, Kotoku-Onsen, Yumoto-Onsen and Kirifugi, and includes some discounts for nearby attractions. ¥4520 for four consecutive days. Recommended for visitors coming to see Nikko's lakes and falls.
- Kinugawa Theme Park Pass covers round-trip fare, bus pass and admission to Tobu World Square, Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura or both. Pass prices range from ¥4080 to ¥7380 depending on the pass purchased.
These passes allow one round-trip between Asakusa station and Shimo-Imaichi station (where the Tobu line splits), and unlimited train rides from there to both Tobu-Nikko and Kinugawa-Onsen stations. On the return trip towards Asakusa you are permitted to exit at Tochigi station (for transfer to the JR Line), or at Tokyo SkyTree station.
You can get these passes at Tobu Sightseeing Service Center, right next to the north exit of Tobu Railway's Asakusa Station. Staff who can speak English are available. Passes can also be purchased online at Tobu's web site.
Using SPACIA trains with these passes require an additional reservation ticket (¥1340 each way on weekdays, ¥1440 on weekends). Pass holders are eligible to purchase SPACIA tickets for a 20% discount.
Travel by JR costs more and takes longer, and isn't really worth considering unless you have a Japan Rail Pass, in which case you can take the Tohoku Shinkansen (Yamabiko, Tsubasa or Nasuno) from Tokyo Station or Ueno to Utsunomiya Station, then connect to the JR Nikko line.
The normal fare from Tokyo Station, if not using a rail pass, is ¥5060 each way (With a reserved seat on the Shinkansen, ¥5580) with a journey time of around 2 hours depending on connections. Using regular JR commuter services, the trip will take 2 1/2-3 hours for ¥2590.
By JR and Tobu
In March of 2006, JR East and Tobu began joint limited-express service from Shinjuku station to the Nikko area.
This service offers one daily round-trip between Shinjuku and Tobu-Nikko station. The Nikko limited express departs Shinjuku in the early morning and makes stops at Ikebukuro and Omiya before continuing via JR and Tobu tracks to the Tobu terminal at Tobu-Nikko. The one-way journey lasts about two hours.
Other limited express trains depart Shinjuku for Kinugawa, so you will have to transfer to a shuttle train at Shimo-Imaichi for the final run to Tobu-Nikko. This also takes about two hours. This service is all in addition to Tobu's regularly-scheduled Kegon and Kinu service into and out of Asakusa.
Seat reservations are mandatory, and the fare for this journey is ¥4000 each way. Japan Rail Pass holders must pay an additional surcharge covering the portion of the trip over the Tobu tracks. On the other hand, holders of the JR East Rail Pass and JR Kanto Area Pass may use the service to Nikko at no additional charge; the trip is fully covered. Unlike the regular Japan Rail Pass, the other two JR Passes also cover local Tobu trains between Shimo-Imachi and Tobu-Nikko, and Shimo-Imaichi and Kinugawa-Onsen. You will have to pay separate fares for any services that are not covered.
There are luggage lockers at Tobu-Nikko Station and JR Nikko Station.
The JR and Tobu stations both have a Tourist Information Center open during daytime hours. Both stations are about two kilometers to the west of the shrine area.
To reach the shrines, you can take a Tobu Bus (bus stop 2C just outside the Tobu Nikko train station, bus fare included in Tobu's World Heritage Pass, about a 6-minute bus ride to the UNESCO World Heritage area), or you can get up close and personal with the neighborhood and use your own two feet, following the pedestrian signs along the main road (Route 119). Getting off at bus stops 81-85 on the Tobu 2C bus line will get you to the shrine and temple area. Halfway between the stations and shrines, there is another Tourist Information Center (591 Gokomachi area; Tel. 0288-53-3795) where you ca get maps, ask questions (some English spoken), use the Internet (¥100/30 minutes), and quench your thirst with water from a small, ladle-drawn waterfall. Also if it is raining, they very happily lend out umbrellas and you are able to drop these off on the way back. Allow about a half-hour or so to walk from the train station to the shrine entrance.
Up until 2013, a cheap combination ticket was sold that included access to Tōshōgū, Rinnō-ji and Futarasan. Following a disagreement in pricing, the combination ticket is no longer sold and you will have to purchase admission to each site separately.
- Tōshōgū (東照宮). Apr-Oct 8AM-4:30PM, Nov-Mar 8AM-3:30PM. 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. Although the surrounding shrine is very ornate, the tomb itself is surprisingly simple and unassuming. ¥1300.
- 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 approximation of an elephant, carved by an artist who had clearly never seen one.
- 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 (Japanese only, some broken English if you're lucky) and strike a special block which produces a sharp, piercing echo if struck directly below the dragon's mouth. This is said to be identical to the cry of a dragon — not quite the roar of English legend but an attention-getter all the same.
- Yomei-mon Gate (陽明門). 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 ¥500. 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.
- Taiyuin-byō (大猷院廟). Apr-Oct 8AM-4:30PM, Nov-Mar 8AM-3:30PM. 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.
- Rinnō-ji Temple (輪王寺). Apr-Oct 8AM-4:30PM, Nov-Mar 8AM-3:30PM. Known for its three large Buddha figures (at the Sanbutsudo Hall portion of Rinnoji Temple), the real reason to visit is the beautiful and peaceful Shōyō-en Garden (逍遥園). Note that the Sanbutsudo is undergoing renovations but is still open to the public. ¥300 (Garden and Treasure House), ¥400 (Sanbutsudo).
- Futarasan Shrine (二荒山神社) (Directly west of Toshogu.). Apr-Oct 9AM-4:30PM, Nov-Mar 9AM-3:30PM. This structure, built in 1617, is the oldest in Nikko. The shrine is dedicated to the spirits of Nikko's three holy mountains Mt. Nantai, Mt. Nyoho and Mt. Taro. ¥200.
There are a few other sites near the temple area:
- Shinkyō (神橋), ☎ +81 288-54-0535, fax: +81 288-54-0537. 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 pedestrian traffic — although there's a 4-lane highway rumbling right past. You can get a nice view from the sidewalk, but to set foot on the bridge and look down into the gorge below, you'll have to buy a ¥350 ticket from the booth nearby.
- Takino-o Shrine (滝尾神社 Takino-o-jinja), ☎ +81 288-54-0535. This often overlooked mountain shrine is situated slightly up the mountain behind Toshogu and provides a welcome relief from the more crowded areas of Sannai. It takes its name from the picturesque waterfall that greets you at the base of the entrance. You can get there by walking for about 15-20 minutes along an ancient and atmospheric stone path that begins behind the Toshogu Shamusho (office). This path also features several other notable sites such as the Kyosha-do Hall (Japanese Chess pieces are left here as offerings for hopes of a safe birth), the worship hall Kaisan-do and the gravesite of Shodo-Shonin (the latter two are maintained by Rinnoji Temple).
- Kanmangafuchi Abyss. A long series of jizo protector statues on the side of a hill, some adorned with hats and bibs, some crumbling with age, with a river, small waterfalls and rapids below. Legend says that the statues change places from time to time, and a visitor will never see them in the same order twice. It can be tricky to find - at Shinkyō, instead of heading up the steps to the temple area, follow the road around to the west (to the left, if you crossed over the bridge) and walk roughly half an hour following the river - look for signs along the way. You will be walking through a residential area. If you pass the Turtle Inn, you are heading in the correct direction.
- Tamozawa Imperial Villa Memorial Park (日光田母沢御用邸記念公園) (Next to the Botanical Garden.), ☎ +81 288-53-6767. W-M 9AM-4:30PM. Built for the Emperor Taisho in 1899, the former imperial villa also served as a hide-out for Hirohito during World War II.
- Nikko Botanical Garden (May-Nov Tu-Su 9AM-4:30PM), ☎ +81 288-54-0206. Has plenty of the local flora and gardens that were said to be favorites of the Emperor Taisho. It's now an adjunct to Tokyo University.
About 7 km west from the temple area, next to the Lake Chūzenji:
- Chūzenji Village (中禅寺). A hot spring village perched by Lake Chūzenji (中禅寺湖 Chūzenji-ko)
- Akechidaira Ropeway (明智平ロープウェイ, Akechidaira Rōpuwei). On the way to Lake Chūzenji, this ends in an observatory on reaching top from where fabulous views of Lake Chūzenji, Kegon falls and Mount Nantai are visible. Entrance fee: 520 yen to the observatory
- Kegon Falls (華厳滝, kegon taki). One of the highest in Japan. Note that the elevator to the bottom of the falls may close at 5PM even during the busy season of August. It is a 5 minute walk from the Chūzenji bus stop (along the main road, in the opposite direction of Lake Chūzenji). Signage is very good. The waterfall is large in early spring, when the snow is melting.
- Nikko National Park. Offers plenty of hiking opportunities.
- National Route 120 heads from the center of town into the park, passing Mt. Nantai and Lake Chuzenji (中禅寺湖 Chuzenji-ko) on its way to the Senjogahara Plateau, where the gods of Mt. Nantai and Mt. Akagi are said to have battled for possession of Lake Chuzenji - with several animal and insect transformations and archery experts involved in Mt. Nantai's eventual victory. There's a 6.3km walking course of the plateau; allow a little over two and a half hours. Lake Chuzenji itself is surrounded by hiking trails ranging from 4.6km (an hour and a half) to 19.7km (six hours), and also has rowing and motor boat facilities in the warm season. The area is sometimes called Oku-Nikko (奥日光 Oku-Nikko), meaning "Inner Nikko".
- Route 120 then crosses over the Yukawa River and passing the Yudaki Falls, Lake Yunoko and the Yumoto spa and ski slopes to the northwest of the city, eventually reaching Mt. Shirane and Lakes Kirikomi and Karikomi, which have their own walking courses.
- Once inside the park, special "low-pollution hybrid" buses run from a depot at Akanuma, near the Yukawa River and the Ryuzu Falls, to the nature preserve at Senjugahama, on the western shores of Lake Chuzenji. Parking is free at Akanuma, but the road to Senjugahama is closed to all other vehicles.
- A short walk south from the center of town will get you on a strenuous but rewarding hiking trail to the summit of Mt. Nakimushi (鳴虫山 Nakimushiyama). Allow a few hours for a return trip.
- Adventurous hikers might want to take the city bus to Matō, down National Route 122 in the far southwestern corner of Nikko city territory, in order to hike to Akagane Shinsui Koen (Copper Hydro Park), billed as Japan's Grand Canyon, as pollution has killed all the trees and left the valley bare. The infamous Ashio copper mine was located nearby. (See Kiryu for details.)
- Woodsman's Village, 4401-1 Naka-Okorogawa, Nikko-shi, Tochigi, Japan (By Car: From Tokyo take Tohoku Highway to the Nikko Utsunomiya Toll Road about 2 and 1/2 hours. Get off at the Imaichi IC. It takes about 20 minutes from Imaichi to Woodsmans Village; By Train: From Asakusa, Tokyo Take the Limited express on the Tobu Railways (Nikko Line) to Shimoimaichi Station, this takes about 1 and 1/2 hours. Then you have two options: walk to the Imaichi JR station (takes about 10 minutes) and take the Okorogawa Bus or you can also take a taxi, which should cost about ￥4,500.), ☎ +81 288-63-3324. Woodsman's Village is a place in the beautiful hills of Nikko, where one can rent a log cabin for a certain length of time to stay in. Also, there is an option for renting a barbecue grill.
- Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura (江戸ワンダーランド日光江戸村), 470-2 Karakura, ☎ +81-288-77-1777. Changes seasonally please refer to website available in English. A cultural theme park that resurrects and showcases the life and culture of the Edo period, the park hosts Edo period architecture from rural lodgings to urban samurai residences and government buildings. Also features 7 theatres featuring various traditionally themed shows including Ninja action and Oiran shows in addition to outdoor live shows, seasonal festivals, restaurants shopping etc. Edo Wonderland also has a range of visitor experiences for adults and children including Ninja workshops, Japanese traditional archery, shuriken throwing and costume hire. Access: from Tokyo, the best option depends largely on the departure time: Train from Tobu Asakusa Station to Tobu Nikko Station. From JR Nikko Station (2 min walk) the Edo Wonderland free shuttle bus may be caught to Edo Wonderland. Train from Tobu Asakusa Station to Kinugawa-Onsen Station. From Kinugawa Onsen Station take the local bus directly to Edo Wonderland. Adults ¥4,500 children ¥2,300.
Aside from the usual good luck charms at the shrines and souvenir shops selling phone straps of Hello Kitty in local dress there are several interesting secondhand shops along Hippari Dako selling used kimono, antiques and knick knacks. Many stores also sell yuba, the 'skin' that forms on top when making tofu, in packages that can be taken home to enjoy.
Yuba, the 'skin' that forms on top when making tofu, seems to be everywhere in Nikko. Even if you're not a fan of tofu, it tastes pretty good, especially with soba (buckwheat noodles in a soup broth). Yuba is also one of the most typical edible omiyage from Nikko.
- Hippari Dako (On main street just before the shrines.). Enshrined in Lonely Planet, every other foreign tourist to Nikko seems to stop here for yakitori (Japanese chicken kebabs) and noodles, so you might as well join the crowd. Every available space is plastered with business cards and scribbled recommendations from visitors. Their menu contains several vegetarian options as well. This restaurant is generally not recommended among locals and seems to thrive off the fact that they speak English. ¥500 and up.
- Gurumans Wagyu, Tokorono 1541 (3-4 minutes taxi from Nikko Station.), ☎ +81 288-53-3232. 11:30AM-2PM, 5:30PM-7:30PM. Wagyu (Japanese beef) steak restaurant. Reservation needed. The dress code is not too strict, but no sandals, no running wear.
- Shiawaseya Hakuun (Turn right as you come out of Toba Nikko Station. It is almost the last shop on your right before the traffic signal.). A great place to have a cup of tea and something sweet whilst waiting for your train or bus. Endless green tea comes with everything. Try the anmitsu (¥400) a dessert made up of fruit, bean jam and molasses.
There is a small alcohol shop across from the station that is run by an old couple and has an interesting selection of world beers.
Nikko can be covered in a busy day trip from Tokyo, but it's also a good place to spend the night, especially in a traditional Japanese ryokan guesthouse. The shrines are quite atmospheric early in the morning and at dusk, when the tour buses are not around.
There are several campsites in Nikko, although only Narusawa (+81 288-54-3374) and Ogurayama (+81 288-54-2478) are open year-round; several others run from April to mid-November or July to August.
- SPACE riverhouse, Minami Okorogawa, ☎ +81 80-1215-4018, e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: noon. A remote hostel, surrounded by nature on the riverside with a ambient chillout lounge overlooking the river. Great Western breakfast. ¥4,000.
- Daiyagawa Youth Hostel (大谷川ユースホステル), ☎ +81 288-54-1974. A cosy and very friendly place which can be a bit narrow at times. The owner is very hearty and is happy to lend guide books and answer questions. Either walk about 10 minutes uphill on the main street or take the bus to the tourist information centre, from there take the first right and follow the road up the river for a few minutes. It's a bit tucked away and directly at the Daiyagawa River. ¥2,730.
- Nikko Minshuku Narusawa Lodge, 1462-22 Tokorono, ☎ +81 80-6636-0288, fax: +81 28-333-1038, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 10AM. A Japanese traditional guest house. ¥3,675.
- Nikko Guesthouse Sumica, 5-12 Aioi-cho, e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. A traditional Japanese guest house, located a few minutes from the Tobu and JR stations. Friendly owners. ¥2,600-3,800.
- Nikko Tokanso, Sannai 2335, ☎ +81 288-54-0611. A traditional Japanese guest house walking distance to the UNESCO World Heritage shrines and temples. The staff are helpful and friendly. The rooms are very clean, and the futons are comfortable. They have private half baths (sink + toilet). The main bathtub/onsen is public (shared among hotel guests), but you can reserve the private "family bath" for 50 minutes during your stay for no extra charge — this is a great way to get a private onsen experience, plus the antechamber to the private onsen has a sink and hair dryer. The dinner (¥3000 per person, served in a common dining room, reserve dinner time at check in on a first-come, first-serve basis — reservations for dinner can also be made at time of room booking) a great value (many dishes) and cultural experience. Breakfast is available for ¥1000, first service at 7:30AM. There is free coffee and tea in the lobby, as well as a public use computer with Internet. Information packets (in the guest room) are translated into English, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, and Spanish. ¥3600 per person.
- Ryokan Funamisou (舟見荘), 2 Ohara, Kinugawa Onsen (About fifteen minutes on foot from Kosagoe Station (which is about 30 minutes from Tobu Nikko Station by train).), ☎ +81 288-77-3030, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A Japanese ryokan. Includes public and private (family room) natural hot spring bath. Quiet and surrounded by nature along side the kinugawa river. Provide Japanese cuisine with seasonal, fresh ingredients. Friendly manager who speaks Italian. Popular among local Japanese and starting to attract overseas customers. Recommended for a local Japanese experience. English online reservation available. Japanese-style rooms from ¥7,000 no meals, ¥8,500 including breakfast, ¥10,500 including dinner and breakfast per person for one person; price drops per person by 2,000 yen for two or more people.
- Annex Turtle Hotori-An, 8-28 Takumi-cho, ☎ +81 288-53-3663, fax: +81 288-53-3883, e-mail: email@example.com. About fifteen minutes on foot from Shinkyō Bridge, in a quiet area near the Kanmangafuchi Abyss; includes a hot spring bath and internet access. Japanese-style rooms ¥6,500 for one person, ¥12,400 for two, ¥17,700 for three.
- Catnip Bed & Breakfast (キャット二ップ), ☎ +81 288-54-3120. This comfortable family-run B&B is a fair hike from the station but the 40 minute walk is beautiful and the owners promise you a free beer on arrival. Alternatively you can take the #6 bus or arrange to be picked up from the station. The rooms are spacious and charming, with shared bathrooms. The owners speak fantastic English. ¥5000 per adult or ¥4000 for children for the first night, there is a ¥1000 discount for each subsequent night and a hot breakfast is included.
- Forest Inn Nikko Teddy Bear House (日光テディベアハウス), 1543-507 Tokorono, ☎ +81 288-54-0234, fax: 0288-54-0237. A place to rest your head for the night, and a private collection of teddy bears to peruse! Japanese and Western-style rooms ¥5,250 for one person, ¥10,500 for two, ¥15,750 for three.
- Nikko Park Lodge (日光パークロッジ), 2828-5 Tokorono, ☎ +81 288-53-1201. This laid-back, friendly and unapologetic lodge is located about twenty minutes' walk from the town center, although the owner is happy to provide rides to and from the train stations (and to the temple area in the morning). There are twin, double and four-person rooms at ¥3990 per person. English is spoken. The lounge has comfortable sofas and a warm stove for the winter. Although most of the rooms have showers, there are lovely Japanese-style hot baths on the first floor. Zen yoga classes are offered every morning at 7AM for ¥300. A simple breakfast is ¥395 and the vegan 'zen' dinner (¥1800, reservation required) is recommended, but be prepared to spend a couple of hours waiting for your meal after the advertised starting time. Parking is available.
- Nikko Inn (日光イン) (right in front of Tobu Shimogoshiro Station (about 20 minutes by train from Tobu Nikko Station)), ☎ +81 288-27-0008. Traditional Japanese style accommodation located in a farm village, with a professed interest in helping "Japanese people rediscover Japan and foreigners experience Japanese culture". Pricing is complicated, but basically you pay ¥5000 per person per night, plus a one-time "facility charge" of ¥3000-4500 depending on which cottage you stay in.
- Turtle Inn Nikko, 216 Takumi-cho, ☎ +81 288-53-3168, fax: +81 288-53-3883, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. About ten minutes to the temple area; includes a hot spa bath and internet access. Japanese and Western-style rooms ¥4,880 for one person, ¥9,000 for two, ¥12,600 for three.
- Logette Sainbois, 1560 Tokorono, ☎ +81 288-53-0082. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 10AM. A strangely French name for a pleasant little guesthouse a short walk from Toba Nikko station. Run by an old Japanese couple who moved here for the quiet life. The guesthouse has small and cosy western style rooms, a communal Japanese bath, and serves excellent breakfasts and dinners. Lifts to and from the station are easily arranged. Adequate English is spoken, credit cards accepted, free LAN internet in the lobby. ¥6,500 per night, dinner ¥2,000, breakfast ¥800.
- Senhime Monogatari (千姫物語), 6-48 Yasukawa-cho (5 minute taxi ride from JR Nikko Station), ☎ +81 288-54-1010, fax: +81 288-54-0557. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Modern ryokan with both traditional Japanese and Western Japanese rooms. Indoor and outdoor hot springs available 24 hours/day. Impeccable traditional Japanese dinners utilizing a multitude of fresh, local, seasonal ingredients. Choice of Western or Japanese style breakfast. Very personal service, English spoken well. Every room has a beautiful view of the Otani River. Located about 1000 feet from Tōshōgū Shrine. ¥15,000.
- Tōkansō (東観荘), 2335 Sannai, ☎ +81 288-54-0611, fax: +81 288-53-3914. A well-located ryokan used to English-speaking guests, the flip side is the large size and consequently impersonal service. ¥9450.
- Kirifuri Highlands — waterfalls, hiking and skiing
- Kinugawa — hot springs and the offbeat Tobu World Square/Edo Wonderland theme parks
- Yumoto — hot spring resort perched by another lake, 30 minutes deeper into the hills
- Those with an interest in pottery or steam locomotives may enjoy Mashiko on the way back to Tokyo.