Day trips from Tokyo are an excellent idea, especially if, like me, you’re in the city for a week or more. Indeed, If you’ve taken advantage of a Japan Rail Pass, it’s a no brainer to take at least one jaunt outside the smoke. Thus we planned to take a trip out to Nikko, a small town 150km or so north of Tokyo, which is home, among other things, to the very large and remarkably beautiful Nikko Tosho-gu shrine.
The town itself is peaceful, arranged mostly either side of a single main road lined with sleepy looking cafes, small dusty antiques shops and clothes stores stocked entirely to suit the over-80s. Busses gently chug up and down the street, which is about the most interesting thing that happens at any point on any given day. This isn’t a place where exciting things happen, but then after Tokyo, you don’t sense that’s necessarily a problem.
The Tosho-gu shrine itself is very beautiful, even by Japanese standards. There is an entrance fee, but don’t let that put you off – we felt it was absolutely worth every penny. The day we went was rain soaked, and we spent much of it cowering under umbrellas or in coffee shops, but this wasn’t a problem. Indeed, so often the rain in Japan seems to add atmosphere to forested shrines such as these.
We chose to walk the two miles between the train station and the temple. It was a cool and pleasant day, and being out of the clatter of Tokyo, we wanted to breath the air and fill our lungs with clean air. I’m glad we made this decision – as sleepy as it is, Nikko is a pleasant and interesting enough place to take a stroll.
I won’t add more. Just look at some of my photos, I guess, and then take a visit yourself…
Nikko is about 2 hours worth of train rides from Tokyo, first on Shinkansen from Tokyo station to the city of Utsunomiya, and then a further (and slower) 45 minute chug through the sleepy Japanese countryside.