The program I was on last year, IES Tokyo, has set field trips that they take every semester. The first group field trip we went on was 5 days Kanazawa, and the second was two days in Nikko. Now I have titled this post as “First” trip to Nikko because as you may know, I had an internship/RA position with IES Tokyo over the summer, and at that time our group also went to Nikko. Writing this over a year later as I am, I can’t ignore the fact that I have been there twice in the past year, even though while I was there the first time I had no idea I would be returning so soon.
With its near proximity to Tokyo coupled with famous attractions and numerous ryokan and onsen, Nikko is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. The first stop we made once we got to Nikko was Toshogu Shrine. 東照宮 (Toshogu) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is home to various carvings such as the Three Wise Monkeys and the Nemuri Nekko (sleeping cat), in addition to the remains of Tokugawa Ieyasu (founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1600). While its original purpose was spiritual in nature, the shrine now is visited by tourists and a strangely large number of elementary school children on field trips.
The shrines and temples we visited were very beautiful, but the most awe-inspiring part of the trip was the Ryuokyo Ravine. With the sun shining, leaves changing, and the slightest chill in the air, we had the most amazing time hiking up and down both sides of the ravine and taking millions of pictures of the multitude of waterfalls and bridges.
While I may not recommend Nikko if you only have a week to spend in Japan, if you happen to be in Japan a little longer it is definitely a worth while visit–especially if you find a ryokan (traditional inn) to stay at and spend your evenings immersed in a hot spring and wearing a yukata! ^_^
Below are some of the pictures I took. Please comment below if you have any questions about the pictures contents!