Thinking of a day trip from Tokyo? Visit Nikko!
I guess many of those staying in Tokyo have ever searched short day trips to escape the busy and urbanite Tokyo and probably stumbled across Nikko as a likely destination.
Nikko (Tochigi Prefecture) is located 2 to 3 hours away from Tokyo. Trains (under the Tobu Railway) begin to run from Asakusa Station at 6.20 a.m., reaching Tobu-Nikko at 8.18 a.m. The last train leaving Tobu Nikko is at 17.39 p.m., giving more than enough time to tour Nikko. To reduce your expenses, try to get the 2 day discount pass (which you have to buy 4 days before).
This 2 day pass (2,670 yen) allows one return trip from Asakusa to Tobu-Nikko, and unlimited travel within Tobu-Nikko (under the World Heritage Bus which brings you around Central Nikko). Also, you can make a stopover anywhere between Tobu Nikko and Tokyo Skytree. If you are only interested in walking around Central Nikko and skipping Lake Chuzenji, then this 2 day pass is highly recommended (saves you more than 500 yen).
From Tobu-Nikko station, most of the main attractions can be reached by walking, even though you can use the World Heritage Bus. A 15-minute walk will bring you to Shinkyo Bridge (Sacred Bridge). With the beautiful autumn foliage and a river stream as the background, the bridge is highly photogenic. It costs 300 yen to cross the bridge. It may seem ludicrous, however, the cost probably deterred tourists from crossing and thus maintaining the tranquility of the bridge.
The Shinkyo Bridge is the gateway to all the Shrines located at Central Nikko. If you are in a rush for time, head straight to the Toshogu Shrine. The Toshogu Shrine is the last resting place of one of the 3 unifiers, Tokugawa Ieyasu. Its intricate and elaborated design warrants a second look.
Even during a weekday, throngs of people visit Nikko.
If you are thinking of having lunch in Nikko, look out for Yuba (Tofu skin). There are many shops hanging banners with the word “Yuba” so do not fret that you would not be able to find one. Also, there are many variations of Yuba being introduced into a meal, i.e. Yuba Soba.
Though it may be slightly costly for a tofu, it is the tough and painstaking effort that justifies its price. Yuba is the residue or the skin from the boiling of soy milk and then taken to dry. It has a very unique taste, not resembling much of tofu, but rather, more of soy. As for the texture, the Yuba I had was in the form of a roll and added into the soba, so it was rather chewy and sweet.
Before leaving back for Tokyo, there was a snaking queue at this shop selling fried Manju with Yuba (200yen). Again, Yuba appears. At this point in time, you may be wondering if the shop owners are just trying to hit the jackpot by making use of Nikko’s speciality and insert it into different dishes.
There wasn’t a distinctive taste of Yuba in the fried Manju, perhaps my tastebuds couldn't detect it, but it was a good and delicious snack to eat on the 3 hour train ride back to Tokyo.