Located in Japan’s Tochigi Prefecture, Nikko is best known for the Toshogu Shrine – an ornate memorial in honour of Tokugawa Ieyasu, a samurai and the founder of the Edo shogunate that ruled Japan for over 250 years. The shrine dates back to 1617, and houses the shogun leader’s mausoleum. It also features elaborate gates, a five-level pagoda and colourful structures accentuated with gold leaf. A famous sight here is a sculpture of the three wise monkeys who inspired the ‘Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil’ adage. The Toshogu Shrine is part of the Shrines and Temples of Nikko UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the 8th-century Futarasan-jinja Shrine and the Rinnoji Temple, both of which you’ll find a few steps away. These monuments are set in a lush forest that’s especially stunning in autumn, and you can reach them by crossing the striking red Shinkyo Bridge.
Nestled in the mountains, Nikko abounds in natural beauty with its cedar forests, waterfalls, lakes, hot springs and rushing rivers. Nikko National Park offers plenty of scenic hiking trails, and you can climb one of the sacred mountains here for panoramic views. Some of the natural landmarks you’ll see include Lake Chuzenji, the 100-metre-tall Kegon Falls and the Ryuzu Waterfall.