Les Clefs dfOr Japanfs Away from Tokyo in a day Nikko

Nikko, the real Japan within easy reach of Tokyo, and especially for history and architecture buffs, with its beautiful and historical temples and shrines surrounded by a range of mountains, is a place sure to please.

An early start from Tokyo is the best advice as it takes approximately 2.5 hours to reach in total with a number of different train transfers required.Take the Limited Express train (1 hour 50 minutes and all seats reserved) or the Rapid train (2 hour 10 minutes and no reserved seats) to Tobu Nikko station on the Tobu Nikko Line from Tobu Asakusa station.It is important to note that most trains do not go directly to Tobu Nikko station and so it is necessary to transfer at Shimo-Imaichi station to trains that come from the opposite side of the platform. One-way tickets range from 1,320 yen for Rapid trains to approx. 2,740 yen for Limited Express trains. There are also trains available from Shinjuku station but they tend to run infrequently and so it is necessary to be sure to check the schedule, and it is approximately 2 hours by Limited train and 3,900 yen one-way from Shinjuku.

If you already have a Japan Rail Pass, please be sure to take the Bullet train (Tohoku / Yamagata Shinkansenjfrom JR Tokyo station which is only 40 minutes, and change at Utsunomiya station to the JR Nikko Line, which then takes around 45 minutes to JR Nikko station. It is 5,630 yen for one way tickets.

The Best Day Trip from Nikko :

Nikko Station ¨@Kegon Falls@¨ Chuzenji Lake ¨ Irohazaka¨Rinnoji Temple ¨ Toshogu Shrine@¨Nikko Station

At Tobu Nikko station, visit the tourist information center (Open from 8:30-12:00, 13:00-17:00) to obtain English language pamphlets and maps. From here, take a local bus for Yumoto and get off at Chuzenji-ko approx.40-60 minutes depending on the traffic conditions. ChuzenkiLake and KegonFalls are right next to each other and it is recommend not to take this route in autumn because it gets very crowded and sometimes takes 3-4 hours to travel the Irohazaka Slope.It is however no problem if you just visit Toshogu Shrine and RinnojiTemple which are well worth a visit whilst in the area.Bus fare is 1,100yen per ticket and payment is made to the driver as you get off the bus.

Iroha-zaka ---It is said that Iroha-zaka was given its name (from "saka", meaning slope) because it has 48 curves, the same number as the 48 characters that make up the basis of Japanese writing

KegonFalls --- There are 48 waterfalls in Nikko, but Kegon falls is the most famous and one of Japanfs three great waterfalls. Water flowing from Lake Chuzenji-ko falls straight over a sheer cliff of97-meters and there is excellentnatural beauty to be enjoyed around the falls.

ChuzenjiLake --- This lake is approx. 25 km in circumference and has a maximum depth of 163m, and is the major lake representing the Nikko area. The lake`s height above-sea-level is 1,269 meters which makes it the highest in Japan. Approx. 20,000 years ago lava dammed up a ravine by the eruption of Mt.Nantai and it has now become the basic landscape of today's LakeChuzenji.

RinnojiTemple --- The red arched sacred gShinkyoh Bridge, which for 3 centuries was closed to everyone but the shogun and his emissaries – to take an optional walk across the bridge will cost 500 yen.From here, stone steps lead up into the woods where the Toshogu Shrine complex is found.To gain entry to the complex of temples in the area, purchase a 1,000 yen combination ticket. The first temple you come to will be RinnojiTemple.After viewing Rinnojifs 8.4m-high gold-plated wooden images of Budda, continue on to the Toshogu Shrine.

Toshogu Shrine --- It could take up to 2.5 hours to fully enjoy the wonders of the shrine.It is set in a forest of ancient Japanese cedars, and was built as the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the last shogunate of Japan, which ruled from 1600 to 1868. As many as 127,000 craftsmen were involved in construction of the shrine, using the highest level of technology available at the time. The complex consists of12 lavishly decorated Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines and contains famous wood carvings such as the gThree Wise Monkeys,h which symbolizes the phrase gsee no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil,h there is a series of 8 carved boards on which the life of a monkey is illustrated, from birth to pregnancy, caricaturing human lifeand the gSleeping Cat,h symbolic of the Spirit of Ieyasu. The two-story "Youmei-mon Gate", decorated with brilliant colors and over 500 sculptures, is particularly famous.

*Other Sightseeing spots worth a visit*
Tamozawa Imperial Villa --- From Toshogu Shrine, it is a brief 20 minute walk to the Tamozawa Imperial Villa built in 1899 for Prince Yoshihito, who later become the Taisho emperor.It has been recently restored and the villa is now comprised of 106 rooms (37 of which the public may visit), and it is especially remarkable for its nail-less wood framing and layered paper plastered walls.The plain wood and elegant, reserved architecture of the villa is a nice change to the gaudy red and gold leaf of the Toshogu Shrine.

*Lunch in Nikko*
Try the healthy and delicious local specialty, yuba, or soy milk skin.A particularly good yuba restaurant is Masudaya, located on the right side of the main street just after the local fire station on your way back to Tobu Nikko Station.
The Nikko Kanaya Hotel, located near the SacredBridge, also serves set lunches at reasonable prices and is highly recommended too for its quality of food.
When in the Chuzenji-ko area a place worthy of a visit is the Nikko Chuzenjiko Hotel which has the Mizunara restaurant located in the middle of a beautiful garden. The Mizunara restaurantfs dining tables face out to LakeChuzenji.

Entry Date: June 15, 2009

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