- Autumn Day Trip to Nikko ① Ashikaga Flower Park (10:00 - 11:00)
- Autumn Day Trip to Nikko ② Nikko Toshogu Shrine (12:00 - 13:00)
- Autumn Day Trip to Nikko ③ Yama-no-Restaurant (13:1- - 14:30)
- Autumn Day Trip to Nikko ④ Nikko Irohazaka Route (14:30 - 15:30)
- Autumn Day Trip to Nikko ⑤ Kegon Falls (15:30 - 16:00)
- Autumn Day Trip to Nikko ⑥ Lake Chuzenji (16:00 - 16:30)
- Autumn Day Trip to Nikko ⑦ Senjogahara Marshland (16:30 - 17:30)
- Autumn Day Trip to Nikko ⑧ Yutaki Falls (17:30 - 18:00)
- Autumn Day Trip to Nikko ⑨ Rinnoji Temple Shoyoen Garden
Nikko, in Tochigi prefecture, is a city packed with Japan's history and nature, and can be accessed on a day trip from Tokyo. The shrines and temples of Nikko, the most famous of which is Nikko Toshogu Shrine, are registered as world heritage sites for their significance as samples of glamorous Edo-period architecture. The expansive nature is also part of the region's draws; every year, many people from around the world arrive in Nikko to see the unparalleled beauty of the region's autumn colors.
Nikko has a load of must-see autumn sceneries, and it may come as a surprise to you that many of them are accessible on a 1-day road trip from Tokyo. This article will introduce one example of a road trip itinerary that takes you from Tokyo to many of Nikko's stunning autumn vistas!
Autumn Day Trip to Nikko ① Ashikaga Flower Park (10:00 - 11:00)
Mexican Bush Sage
Sights to See at Ashikaga Flower Park
Fall at Ashikaga Flower Park has both fall foliage and fall flowers. The park locates in Tochigi’s southern city of Ashikaga, and has beautiful flowers blossoming year-round.
Between early October and late November, the park is filled with over 300,000 Mexican Bush Sage flowers. Ashikaga Flower Park will please you with even more than just autumn leaves!
Ashikaga Flower Park is a 90-minute drive from Tokyo, via the Tohoku Expressway
Autumn Day Trip to Nikko ② Nikko Toshogu Shrine (12:00 - 13:00)
Nikko Toshogu Shrine
Sights to see at Nikko Toshogu Shrine
Nikko Toshogu Shrine is one of Tochigi Prefecture's most well-known landmarks. It enshrines Tokugawa Ieyasu, the pioneering warlord of the Edo Period, and the extravagantly decorated structure is registered as a world cultural heritage, alongside a group of shrines and temples in Nikko. (The other two are Nikkozan Rin-noji Temple and Nikko Futarasan Shrine)
The shrine premises encompass 55 pieces of architecture, 8 of which are national treasures, and 34 of which are important cultural assets. The glamorous shrine buildings and gates are sights to behold.
Nikko Toshogu Shrine is also well-known for its autumn colors, which reach their peak vibrance around November. The warm-vibrance of the leaves will add a splash of color to the scenery in front of you, enriching your experience even more!
Yabusame horseback archery
During the Nikko Toshogu Grand Autumn Festival, the yabusame horseback archery event and other traditional events are held. Join the many spectators that gather every year, and enjoy autumn with the history of Nikko Toshogu Shrine!
Nikko Toshogu Shrine is a 75-minute drive from Ashikaga Flower Park, via the Tohoku Expressway & Nikko-Utsunomiya Road.
Autumn Day Trip to Nikko ③ Yama-no-Restaurant (13:1- - 14:30)
Sights to see at Yama-no-Restaurant
Yama-no-Restaurant locates in the middle of the forest of Nikko. To the north of the restaurant is Kirifuri Falls, and to the west is the lovely view of the Nikko Mountain Range. Take a seat at the terrace seating for a dining experience with a side of fresh air and liberating sceneries.
The view of the autumn foliage from Yama-no-restaurant is absolutely breathtaking, but is a relatively unknown viewpoint. You can enjoy the autumn view and eat delicious dishes at Yama-no-restaurant.
Yama-no-Restaurant is a 10-minute drive from Nikko Toshogu Shrine, via the No. 169 Prefectural Road.
Autumn Day Trip to Nikko ④ Nikko Irohazaka Route (14:30 - 15:30)
Irohazaka Route in the autumn
Sights to See at Irohazaka Route
Irohazaka Route connects Nikko’s inner city with Oku-Nikko, the outskirts of the city. The winding road is chosen as one of the 100 Roads of Japan. The road has 48 curves in total, and is named after the Iroha-uta, a song used to remember the old Japanese alphabet (which had 48 characters).
In the fall months, Irohazaka Route is an incredible fall foliage spot. Many visitors come from afar to see the colored leaves on Irohazaka Route. The road can get congested during the fall, but that gives you more time to enjoy the scenery.
Starting from Yama-no-Restaurant, turn back towards Nikko Toshogu Shrine and take a 30-minute drive via the No. 120 National Road.
Autumn Day Trip to Nikko ⑤ Kegon Falls (15:30 - 16:00)
Sights to see at Kegon Falls
Kegon Falls is listed as one of Japan’s Three Major Waterfalls. The falls measure 97 meters high, and the waters are loud and rapid. Via elevator, you can get to the fall basin to see the falls up close.
From the Akechidaira Observation Deck at the top of Irohazaka Route is a breathtaking view of Kegon Falls. During the autumn, you can see the falls surrounded by colored leaves. From the observation deck, you can also walk to Lake Chuzenji for an extra adventure.
Immediately after descending the No. 1 Irohazaka hill.
Autumn Day Trip to Nikko ⑥ Lake Chuzenji (16:00 - 16:30)
Sights to see
Lake Chuzenji locates 1,269 meters above sea level, and is the lake with the highest elevation in Japan. It was created around 20,000 years ago after Mount Nantai erupted and created a crater.
The lake is chosen as one of Japan’s 100 Landscapes. The views are amazing, with Mount Nantai to the north and Senjogahara Marshland to the northwest. The fall foliage is beautiful as well, and colors the mountains with reds and oranges.
You can enjoy the seasonal views from a boat. The colored leaves reflect on the lake surface to add more color to the scenery.
Lake Chuzenji is a 5-minute drive from Kegon Falls, via the No. 250 Prefectural Road.
Autumn Day Trip to Nikko ⑦ Senjogahara Marshland (16:30 - 17:30)
The Senjogahara Marshland in autumn
Sights to see at the Senjogahara Marshland
Senjogahara Marshland, in Oku-Nikko, stretches between Lake Chuzenji and Yumoto Onsen. There is a hiking path created in the area, so you can walk through the marshland regardless of weather conditions.
Over 300 species of plants can be found in Senjogahara. Many species of wild birds, too, call this marshland home. During the fall months, the grass in the marsh change colors and create a beautiful view.
Senjogahara Marshland is a 10-minute drive, via the No. 120 National Road with Lake Chuzenji to your left.
Autumn Day Trip to Nikko ⑧ Yutaki Falls (17:30 - 18:00)
Sights to see at Yutaki Falls
Along with Ryuzu Falls and Kegon Falls, Yutaki Falls is chosen as one of Oku Nikko’s Three Major Waterfalls. It is 70 meters high and 25 meters wide, and the falls are robust yet elegant.
Towards the top of the falls is a path where you can walk closer to the falls. During the autumn months, Yutaki Falls is surrounded by colored leaves.
Yutaki Falls is a 5-minute drive from the Senjogahara Marshlands, via the No. 120 National Road.
Autumn Day Trip to Nikko ⑨ Rinnoji Temple Shoyoen Garden
Shoyoen Garden at Rinnoji Temple
Sights to see at Rinnoji Temple
Rinnoji Temple was made about 1230 years ago, and Shoyoen Garden sits on the remains of it. Between late October and mid-November, the garden hosts a special fall foliage light-up event.
The fall foliage and the historical buildings create a relaxing, traditional Japanese atmosphere. The fall foliage light-up is the perfect way to end your Nikko adventure.
To get to Rinnoji Temple, backtrack the path you took to Yutaki Falls, and take a 45-minute drive along the No. 120 National Road.
・Light-up period: Oct. 25 – Nov. 15
・Hours: 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. (last entry at 7:30p.m.)
The Japanese Autumn doesn't get more Beautiful than in Nikko
As you can see, the gorgeous sceneries created by autumn's colors and the rich nature of Nikko can be experienced in just a 1-day road trip from Tokyo! Nikko has plenty of other great autumn destinations, so an overnight stay to get the full experience might be great too. Put Nikko on your list of places to visit this autumn, and make the most out of the season!