Famous for Japan’s most elaborate and lavish shrine, Toshogu, the pretty town of Nikko is located at the entrance to the Nikko National Park. The area is full of beautiful mountain scenery with peaceful lakes, tumbling falls, hot springs and wild monkeys. The hiking is superb but the park’s main attraction is the stunning Toshogu Shrine, marked by a five-storey pagoda and the ornate Yomeimon Gate.
The UNESCO-listed Toshogu enshrines Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Shogunate that ruled Japan during the Edo period from 1603 to 1867. Surrounded by beautiful forest scenery, the extensive complex is decorated with gold leaf and intricate wooden carvings. Visitors can also pay their respects at Ieyasu’s tomb, which in contrast to the shrine is both simple and unadorned.