Nikko (literally "sunlight" or "sunshine") is a city in the mountains of Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. Approximately 140 km north of Tokyo and 35 km west of Utsunomiya, the capital of Tochigi Prefecture, it is a popular destination for Japanese and international tourists. Attractions include the mausoleum of shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (Nikko Tosho-gu) and that of his grandson Iemitsu (Iemitsu-byo Taiyu-in), and the Futarasan Shrine, which dates to the year 767. There are also many famous hot springs (onsen) in the area. Elevations range from 200 to 2,000 m. The mountains west of the main city are part of Nikk˘ National Park and contain some of the country's most spectacular waterfalls and scenic trails.
The Japanese saying "Never say 'kekko' until you've seen Nikko"; kekko meaning beautiful, magnificent or "I am satisfied" is a reflection of the beauty and sites in Nikko.
Shodo Shonin established the temple of Rinno-ji in 766, followed by the temple of Chűzen-ji in 784. The village of Nikk˘ developed around these temples. The shrine of Nikk˘ T˘sh˘-gű was completed in 1617 and became a major draw of visitors to the area during the Edo period. It is known as the burial place of the famous Japanese shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. A number of new roads were built during this time to provide easier access to Nikk˘ from surrounding regions. Nikk˘ T˘sh˘-gű, Futarasan Shrine, and Rinn˘-ji now form the UNESCO World Heritage Site Shrines and Temples of Nikk˘.
During the Meiji-era Nikko developed as a mountain resort, and became particularly popular among foreign visitors to Japan. The Japanese National Railways began service to Nikk˘ in 1890 with the Nikko Line, followed by Tobu Railway in 1929 with its Nikk˘ Line.
Nikko was incorporated as a town in 1889, part of Kamitsuga District. It was upgraded to city status in 1954 after merging with the neighboring village of Okorogawa. On March 20, 2006 Nikko absorbed the old city of Imaichi, the town of Ashio, from Kamitsuga District, the town of Fujihara and the village of Kuriyama, both from Shioya District, to create what is officially the new city of Nikko. The new city hall is located at the former Imaichi City Hall; the former Nikk˘ City Hall is now known as Nikk˘ City Hall-Nikk˘ Satellite Office.
Historical sites and attractions
Cedar Avenue of Nikko
Nikko Botanical Garden
Shrines and Temples of Nikko (Nikko Tosho-gu, Futarasan Shrine, and Rinno-ji)
Tosho-gu The Three wise monkeys ("See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil")
Rinno-ji Taiyu-in Mausoleum
Futarasan Shrine Sacred bridge
Nikko is well-known for its monkeys that walk around the town in the winter looking for food.
Visit the Jizo statues on the Kanman Walk. A little out of the main city, locals often tell visitors to count the statues while walking, and to recount while walking back. The number is often different, fueling a legend amongst locals.