Nikko National Park Travel Guide 日光国立公園
Mount Nantai and Lake Chuzenji
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The Senjogahara marshland in the Nikko National Park
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
National Park in Nikko
Nikko is most famous for its Tosho-gu temple, but it is also home to a beautiful national park with multiple hiking trails. An ideal destination for a one or two-day excursion from Tokyo.
Around the small city of Nikko spread out over the prefectures of Tochigi, Gunma and Fukushima is one of Japan's first national parks. It was created in 1934 and has 114,908 hectares in a very mountainous region, riddled with volcanoes. A very rich and varied landscape made up of valleys, ponds, marshes, and waterfalls resulting from volcanic activity. Many historical sites around Nikko are classified as World Heritage by UNESCO, making this area a place of harmony. It is also very easy to access from Tokyo.
Mount Nikko-Shirane rises to 2,578 meters. From Marunuma Kogen station, a cable car takes you to an altitude of 2000 meters, where you have a beautiful panorama, with the bonus of a free foot bath.
Here is the starting point of the hiking trail to get to the top. Allow five or even six hours round trip for the ascent.
Lake Chuzenji, created by volcanic activity and the lava spill from Mount Nantai, is a huge lake at the end of which is the great Kegon waterfall. With its 97 meters of fall, the flow is very intense, there especially in spring, thanks to the snowmelt.
We also recommend visiting Senjogahara. This marshland is mainly flat and it a great place to hike. Follow the path to enjoy the area's diversity, which boasts 350 kinds of plants and wild birds.
Mount Nantai is a 2,486-meter mountain known to be sacred. At its peak is the Futarasan temple, the other part of which is located lower in the valley.
- Read also: Futarasan temple
Some sites in Nikko are listed as Unesco, including the famous and beautiful shrine Tosho-gu Shinto built in these mountains more than 1200 years. However, it was extended by the Tokugawa family in the seventeenth century.
Kinugawa is a very beautiful valley crossed by the Kinu River. The site of Kinugawa-onsen, discovered in the Edo period, offers all the pleasures of hot springs that fully revitalize the body. Nikko Yumoto Onsen resort, in addition to its onsen, allows you to ski all winter long.
Kuriyama is the highest swampy area in Japan, being located at 2,020 meters above sea level. Kinunuma is made up of around forty ponds, perfect for appreciating the local fauna and especially a very beautiful koyo in autumn.
Mount Nasu, which rises to 1,917 meters, is an active volcano more commonly referred to as "Mount Chausu that smokes all the time". The Nasu cable car goes up to 1,684 meters, to take hiking trails suitable for beginners. Each season brings its own delights, the blooming of azaleas in spring, the variety of alpine plants for a little freshness in summer, or the dominant red of koyo in autumn. There are many outdoor activities available on the Nasu Plateau in Nasu Kogen.
Nasu Heisei no Mori is a former imperial villa since 1926, with a vast amount of land, including a beautiful forest of Japanese beech trees. The Emperor of Japan gave half of this land to the Ministry of the Environment, which is now part of the national park and opened to the public in May 2011.