Located in the Tochigi Prefecture, approximately 120 km north of Tokyo. The city of Nikko 日光 is known for its stunning natural scenery, including mountains, lakes, and waterfalls, as well as its rich history and culture. Nikko has been an important cultural and religious center in Japan for centuries, and its history dates back over a thousand years.
The earliest history of Nikko can be traced back to the 8th century, during the Nara period, when the area was known as Nikkōri. It was originally a small mountain village, inhabited by the native Ezo people, who were gradually assimilated into Japanese culture. During this period, Nikko was part of the Yamato dynasty, which controlled much of Japan at the time.
In the 11th century, Nikko began to develop as a center of Buddhism. The famous Buddhist monk Jikaku Daishi established the Rinno-ji temple, which became one of the most important Buddhist temples in Japan. The temple attracted many pilgrims and visitors, who came to worship at the various shrines and temples in the area.
During the Kamakura period (1185-1333), Nikko became a center of political power as well. The Kamakura shogunate, which ruled Japan during this period, established a government office in Nikko to oversee the administration of the surrounding region. The shogunate also granted Nikko a tax exemption, which helped to spur the town's economic growth.
In the 14th century, Nikko began to develop as a center of Shintoism as well. The famous Shinto shrine, Toshogu, was built during this period, in honor of the legendary samurai leader, Tokugawa Ieyasu. Ieyasu was the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate, which ruled Japan from 1603 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. The Toshogu shrine became one of the most important Shinto shrines in Japan, attracting pilgrims and visitors from all over the country.
During the Edo period (1603-1868), Nikko became an even more important center of Japanese culture and history. The Tokugawa shoguns established their summer residence in Nikko, and many important samurai and political leaders built mansions and temples in the area. The town also became a popular destination for artists, writers, and intellectuals, who were drawn to the natural beauty and rich cultural heritage of the region.
In the 19th century, Nikko played a significant role in the Meiji Restoration, which brought about the end of the Tokugawa shogunate and the restoration of imperial rule in Japan. Many of the leaders of the restoration movement were from the Tochigi region, and Nikko was an important gathering place for these activists. The town also played a key role in the development of modern Japanese culture and society, as many of the artists, writers, and intellectuals who helped to shape modern Japan were inspired by the natural beauty and cultural heritage of Nikko.
Today, Nikko is a popular tourist destination, known for its stunning natural scenery, rich cultural heritage, and many historical sites and landmarks. The town is home to several important shrines and temples, including the Toshogu shrine, the Rinno-ji temple, and the Futarasan shrine. It is also known for its beautiful waterfalls, including the Kegon Falls and the Ryuzu Falls, as well as its many hiking trails and outdoor activities.
Nikko is a short train ride away from Tokyo. Head over to Kitasenju Station accessible from the Chiyoda Line, the Tobu SkyTree Line, the Tsukuba Express Line, the Hibiya Line, the Ryomo Line, the Joban Line and the Ueno-Tokyo Line. Take the Nikko-Kinugawa Line and head over to the train's last stop, the Tobu-Nikko Station. The train ride is a short 2 hours away, with scenic views of rice paddies, mountain ranges and old towns.