We recently traveled to Nikko, Tochigi for a little weekend away as a family and it did not disappoint! We were there December 22nd and 23rd for just one night, but we fit a good amount of activities in during that time! This is by no means a complete list of recommendations for things to do and places to eat in Nikko, but these are the places we went during our time there and I would recommend all of them (even with kids!)
By the way, we rented a car and drove to Nikko from Tokyo. It took about two hours and was super convenient! Nikko is also accessible by train from Tokyo.
We stayed at Nikko Senhime Monogatari hotel which I would HIGHLY recommend. It’s not the cheapest place to stay, but if you are looking to celebrate an occasion with something a little nicer (my birthday and Christmas in our case!) then this would be a great option. It’s within walking distance to several main tourist sites, namely Tosho-gu and Shinkyo Bridge, and the service is impeccable. We stayed one night and had a traditional Japanese washoku dinner in our room followed by breakfast the following morning.
The hotel also features a beautiful onsen with indoor and outdoor baths. I particularly enjoyed the outdoor bath because it looked out onto a traditional Japanese garden. So beautiful and peaceful! There is also a bar and a karaoke room if you are inclined!
The one thing I will say about the room is that because it is traditional Japanese style, it was difficult to separate sleeping quarters between us and the baby who goes to bed earlier. Ultimately, we ended up just going to bed at the same time together on the futon and it worked well. I guess this is the case in most hotel sleeping situations anyways!
Overall, it was a beautiful hotel and I would definitely stay there again. Upon checking in you are greeted with matcha and Japanese sweets, so that should tell you something!
Nikko Senhime Monogatari
321-1432 Tochigi, Nikko, Yasukawa-cho 6-48, Japan
Since we were only in Nikko for two days (and more like two half days since we were driving there and back) we only visited a few of the sites but they were all wonderful! We started off with Shinkyo Bridge on Saturday since it was on the way to our hotel. The bridge is stunning and with the right light you can get a great photo. You can pay a few hundred yen to walk on the actual bridge as well, but we opted to just view it from afar.
Next, we went to Tosho-gu, a huge Shinto shrine. Tosho-gu is famous for it’s highly decorated facade and the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” monkeys. (Not actual monkeys though, just wood carvings!) There is a parking lot near the entrance which is very convenient if you are driving, but you can also walk up to the shrine. Asahi loved walking around the grounds, picking up rocks and doing other baby things! We used the baby carrier for any more treacherous spots like the stairs. There were tons of kids around so don’t feel worried about bringing yours along.
Near Tosho-gu is Rinno-ji temple, a world heritage site. However, it’s currently under renovation of some sort so we didn’t pay to go inside. It looked beautiful as well though!
On Sunday we ventured to Lake Chuzenji but unfortunately the weather was quite cloudy and rainy so we weren’t able to see much through the fog. My husband and I were saying in the car about how it must be a beautiful place to visit in the summer so we might have to go back and try out some of the paddle boats!
We also found a little waterfall before beginning our drive back to Tokyo. It’s so nice to be able to experience a little bit of nature before heading back to the big city.
Our two main meals were eaten at the hotel but we did visit a couple of places outside of that for lunch on Saturday when we arrived. I was looking through google maps while we drove through town and this little restaurant popped up! Apparently it’s quite popular because several of my friends mentioned that they also visited there! This restaurant specializes in yuba, or soybean curd, a local dish to the area. Yuba was also featured in our washoku meals at the hotel.
さんフィールド // Google Maps
For dessert, we went to this adorable little gelato cafe and got the cutest cups of gelato! I got matcha and blueberry yogurt flavor and hubby got matcha and chocolate. Asahi didn’t get any but luckily he didn’t complain too much 😉
NASUのラスク屋さん 日光店 // Google Maps
Lastly, on the way home we stopped by Sano Service Area for some ramen! If you are traveling on the Tohoku Expressway near Utsunomiya, this little spot is a must stop for lunch. They even have a baby room with changing and nursing areas which I thought was nice. Also high chairs with straps for your little bubs! They also have a souvenir shop if you need to buy omiyage.
Sano Service Area // Google Maps
Thanks for reading! If we go to Nikko again in the future I will be sure to add more to this post 🙂