Didem Doğan

Nikko Japan

The tallest pine trees I've ever seen in my life. The black roofs of the temples that appear as you walk into the forest are lined up one after another on the slopes of the mountains. The visual effect created by the temples integrated with the nature pattern around them, huge trees, and the sound of flowing waters magically engulfs me.

Nikko is a wonderfully beautiful place located in the Tochigi region northeast of Tokyo, which you can reach with a two-hour train ride. Although most visitors come for the day, I think it's a better idea to stay here overnight.

It all started when a Buddhist monk built a temple in the forest on the mountainside here in Nikko in the eighth century. The area you are visiting today is a single complex of one hundred and three shrines and tombs, originally consisting of two Shinto temples, Tosho-gu and Futarasan-jijia, and one Buddhist temple, Rinno-ji. This area, which forms an integrity with Nikko's nature, mountains and forests, and the religious buildings attributed to holiness, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.

You can reach Tokyo in two hours with the ticket you buy from the Tobu Line box office at Asakusa train station. If you buy a Nikko Pass while boarding the train, you can ride the World Heritage bus free of charge, which will be valid for 2 days. You will need this bus, which runs a ring between the train station and the temples. This pass is not valid in the temples; there is an entrance fee to the temples (Tosho-gu 1400, Futarasan 700 jpy), and I recommend you have cash with you as credit cards are not accepted. The only place you can change money is the machine at the train station. For accommodation, you can stay at a hotel in the center or, like me, use the Nikko Station Hotel, located opposite the train station (so you won't have to worry about carrying your luggage).

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