Rinno-ji Temple was founded in the 8th century by Shodo Shonin, who is credited as the first monk to explore the Nikko National Park. Its main building, known as the Sanbutsudo hall, houses three gold-leave covered statues of the deities Amida, Senju-Kannon (thousand arms Kannon) and Bato-Kannon (Kannon with a horse head) which are said to represent divine manifestations of Nikko's mountains.
Rinno-ji also contains a treasure house, featuring Buddhist and Tokugawa-family related exhibits, and the Shoyo-en Garden, a traditional Japanese garden built in the Edo period but reformed in the 19th century. Access to these two areas require an extra fee of 300 Yen.
Taiyu-in is the mausoleum of Tokugawa Iemitsu, the grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu, who was buried here after completing the Tosho-gu shrine since he wished to serve Ieyasu even after his death. It was constructed in the same style of the Tosho-gu, including the lavish decorations, but smaller in scale and using less vibrant color schemes as a sign of modesty towards his grandfather.
The Shinkyo Bridge, or Sacred Bridge, is a beautiful vermillion lacquered bridge located at the entrance to Nikko's temple and shrine area, which crosses the Daiya River and belongs to the Futarasan shrine. The bridge in its current form dates from 1636, although it has been reconstructed in several occasions along its history. It measures 28 meters long and can be crossed by paying a fee of 500 Yen, something that was exclusive to messengers of the Imperial court until 1973. Sinkyo was registered as a World Heritage in December 1999.
Lake Chuzenji is a scenic lake created about 20.000 years ago when a volcanic eruption blocked the river, which covers an area of 11.62 Km2 describing a circumference of 25 Km. Chuzenji is especially popular among local tourists in late October, when the autumn red colours reach their peak on the shores and surrounding mountains.
The lake's views can be enjoyed by walking along one of the multiple hiking trails located around the lake, which range from 4Km to 20Km long, or by riding one of the sightseeing boats which depart from the small town of Chuzenji Onsen. Row boats are also available for rent, but only during warm seasons.
Kegon Waterfall is a 97 meter high waterfall which drains from Lake Chuzenji and it's considered to be one of the three most beautiful waterfalls in Japan. It can be enjoyed from a public observation platform or from a paid platform, which is accessed via a 100 meter deep elevator and offers more impressive views.
Ryuzu Waterfall, literally meaning Dragon's Head Waterfall, is a waterfall located on the Yugawa River shortly before it ends at Lake Chuzenji. Its name derivers from the shape of its twin falls which are said to resemble a dragon's head, especially during the autumn leaf season due to the red and yellow colours.
Because Ryuzu Falls are located on higher grounds than Chuzenji, autumn colours are first seen in this area, starting from early to mid October. A walking trail of around 300m can be followed downhill along the river and ending on the falls, to enjoy the impressive views.
Yumoto Onsen is a local hot spring town located next to Lake Yumoto, further up the mountains than Chuzenji lake, which is mainly formed by traditional Japanese Hotels and hot spring resorts. It is a popular spot for tourists who plan to stay in Nikko for the night and enjoy taking a bath in its unique hotspring waters, and even features a small public hot spring bath. The town has a history of over 1200 years and its calm and tranquility contrasts with the activity of Nikko.
JR Tokyo Station
54 min. 1890¥
JR Nikko Line
42 min. 740¥
Tobu Asakusa Station
Tobu Nikko Line
1320 min. 120¥
Tobu Nikko Station
All attractions in Nikko are usually explored by bus from Nikko or Tobu Nikko stations. The Shrines are all located in the same area (within a short walk from each other) and can be reached on a 10 minute bus ride (Shinkyo and Nishisando bus stops). Lake Chuzenji is located further up the mountain and bus rides require around 50 minutes to get there.
Several combination tickets are available at the bus terminal next to Tobu Nikko station, including round trips and free passes, with prices varying from 500 (day pass to the Shrines) to 3000 Yen (free 2 day pass to Yumoto Onsen) depending on the areas that are covered.