During our stay in Tokyo (our I ♥ Tokyo post here) we spent a day at Nikko and hey! I was able to wear my brand new bear ears coat that I bought in Takeshita dori in Harajuku (here is our Harajuku & Shimokitazawa post), so I was a very happy gal! :)
Nikko is a popular getaway town from Tokyo with a famous temple complex. The complex includes the Nikkō Tōshō-gū, Futarasan Shrine, and Rinnō-ji temples, including both buddhists temples and sintho shrines and a beautiful historical botanical garden in the same mountain.
To go there from Tokyo we took the Shinkansen train from the JR Tokyo station, after 50 minutes got down at Utsunomiya and then took the JR Nikko line to Nikko. The last one is a cutie old train more similar to an old subway wagon than to the more modern ones you have previously taken. Remember that Japanese usually eat inside the trains, so if you want to be an early bird don’t be shy and have your breakfast there to skip time!.
Once you are out of the train in the wooden station you have to either take a bus or have a 15 minute walk to the red sacred bridge. The walk was nice because it allowed us to see the stores with traditional souvenirs and typical food from Nikko.
The sacred red bridge above the Daiya River is usually closed (if you go there during a festivity you may be able to cross it) so you can take pictures from the regular, and very ugly in comparison :P, motorway bridge. The legend says that the colors are from the two snakes that were released to help a priest to cross it. From the bridge we were directed to a wonderland of woods that surround the temples and shrines.
In a certain point of the walk there is on the right a visible entrance to the Rinnoji temple, there you will also find the tickets office. You can either buy a combined ticket or pay each temple separately one by one, as a visitor for the first time I will highly recommend the all included. In the entrance of each temple you will be requested to show its entrance so have the tickets reachable all the time!
Tip: Lots of people miss the first stop in the pilgrimage; the Shoyoen historical botanical garden. If you go there on fall, as we did, do not miss it! Is one of the most beautiful views of the tree foliage we had during our trip, the lovely red and green colors are a must. It is also a favorite among the elderly and it is enchanting to see their sensitivity with nature! One of the favorite moments of our visit was when a beautiful elderly couple bought us Koi fish feed for us to throw in the pond :) they had such lovely happy faces as they watched us feeding the fishes!
There are not many good food stops inside the complex, instead we took a recommendation from our friend Carlos to wait (via snacks :P ) until the end of our visit and then have a late lunch in a restaurant called Hippari Dako located in the same street that leads you to the Nikko station. In fact we had already seen the door during our walking to the complex in the morning, so we knew exactly where to go. The truth is that we saw the restaurant because we read “Deliciosa comida” (written in Spanish) in the door! After reading the restaurant’s name we realized that it was the same we were looking for :)
Hippari Dako is a small family run restaurant where you will find comfort food: ramen soup, yakisoba and yakitori menus. The food is quite good and the place is singular. They have little notes covering the walls (and ceiling) from previous customers which are very entertaining and photographic! :)
Nikko is one of the most intense and interesting temple visitings you will have in the Kanto region, we can’t praise it enough, so just get lost through the pictures!
Close up of my bear ears coat in the JR Nikko line train
We visited Nikko a weekday and it was full of both student and elderly groups, but not a lot of foreign tourists
The monkeys carving is the most famous of Nikko, it represents the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” proverb
All the student groups took a picture in the same place :) beneath you can see some of the pictures taken there, almost look as chroma key wall pics, don’t they?
There was an special place to leave love wishes, I can’t read them but the drawings were the cutest!
You are requested to leave your shoes before entering to the temples. Tip: wear easy to take out footwear, Dani was wearing sneakers and the shoelaces were a little pain!
Protective warrior of the Toshogu Shrine
Comfort food in Hippari Dako in Nikko, can you spot the “Comida deliciosa” sign?
Lots of Spanish notes in the wall, I guess that the Spanish sign in the door is appealing for us :P