How many of you have been to Tochigi Prefecture?
It is not a super well-known prefecture in Japan, but I bet some of you have been there without even knowing! If you have been to Nikko, a town best known for its breathtaking landscapes during autumn, then you have been in Tochigi.
I’m writing a series of Tochigi blog posts in hope that more people can discover this nearby prefecture to Tokyo, and to travel more in-depth instead of the usual day-trip to just Nikko, because there are too many things to do and one day is never enough!
During my very short 2-day trip there, I covered only a very small part of Tochigi, but I was already mesmerized enough. These photos are real. Taken by my camera:
Shoyoen (逍遥園) – A Japanese garden famed for being an autumn leaf spot.
Shinkyo Bridge (神橋), a sacred bridge that leads to the shrines of Nikko.
Kegon Falls (華厳の滝), one of Japan’s 3 most beautiful waterfalls.
Tamozawa Imperial Villa (田母沢御用邸), a summer retreat for Japan’s imperial family.
Chuzenji Kanaya Hotel (中禅寺金谷ホテル) – A style hotel so classic I didn’t think I was in Japan.
And there are so much I want to say about these places.
But first, before you head over to Tochigi/Nikko, you will need to know this.
There are many train passes available throughout different regions in Japan, and today I’d like to introduce a discount pass specially for those who are traveling to Nikko – the Tobu Nikko All Area Pass.
You can purchase the passes from the TOBU Tourist Information Center Asakusa.
The journey starts from Asakusa Station, Tokyo.
Straight from Haneda.
Limited Express SPACIA
The “Limited Express SPACIA” is a nickname of the Tobu Railway Express Train operated between Tokyo and Nikko/Kinugawa Onsen. And this golden one, is particularly new and special!
This is “Nikko Moude SPACIA”, a specially decorated train designed after the colorful world heritage shrine and temples in Nikko.
For traveler’s comfort, this train also offers compartments – private rooms that accommodates 4.
Luxurious seats with marble table, travelers with the NIKKO ALL PASS can book a compartment for a discounted price at 2480 yen (weekday)!
It’s the price for the room, so if there are four of you to split, it’s only 600 yen per person! Very hua!
This is our Nikko team. ^^
I looooove this compartment car because of the huge windows.
There’s something very therapeutic about train rides in Japan.
I actually had a midnight flight that landed in Haneda at 6am in the morning, then I dashed to Asakusa to board this train by 8am. By right I should be getting some shut eyes, but I found myself wide-awake enjoying the soothing scenery of Japanese suburbs.
There’s also free wifi in the TOBU trains so you can get to stay connected with your internet life during the 2-hour train ride.
Tobu World Square Station
This is a newly added station at the Kinugawa (鬼怒川) area that primarily serves the adjacent Tobu World Square theme park. I have never heard of the Tobu World Square Theme Park before this, but after visiting it I am recommending it as a must-visit because it really blew me away! I’d blog about it in a separate blog post.
The station just opened this year July, and spots a cute facade that features some of the attractions in Tobu World Square.
Next to the station is a special vending machine designed after the SL Taiju, which I will be introducing shortly.
The view upon arriving the station. Tokyo was still not feeling very autumn, but here at Nikko, fall is everywhere! 😀
A real locomotive that served America many decades ago.
This station is new so there are many omotenashi features added for the comfort for travelers. For example this cute and colorful children toilet.
Even the toilet rolls have special prints omg #onlyinJapan T_T. I actually know tourists who steal toilet rolls in Japan. Please don’t do that. (Or else in your next life you will be reincarnated into a toilet roll to meet all kinds of assholes and taste all sort of shit.)
Another thoughtful feature is the prayer rooms for muslim travelers!
I had a peek, and it’s brand new tatami inside! <3
After visiting Tobu World Square, we headed back to the station and waited excitedly for… something very special.
I didn’t know it even exist in Japan!! I have only seen it in the Japanese movie “Survival Family” (by the way it’s a really good movie!).
And here comes…
jeng jeng jeng jeng…
A Kikansha – steam locomotive!!! Yes! Like Thomas & Friends!
And it is a REAL DEAL.
All the passengers were very excited to see its arrival. The locomotive runs through Kinugawa Onsen area, and on route I saw ojiichan obaachan working in the farms waved at us. Somehow it made me warm and fuzzy inside, a little like the ending in “Survival Family” movie.
Turntable at Shimoimaichi Station
We alighted at Shimoimaichi Station (下今市駅), and proceeded to the turntable platforms.
Many railway fanatics are already waiting at the platform to catch a rare right.
Watch the steam locomotive as it turns!
Very very up close too.
It then retreats into the workshop for maintenance work.
It was a fun experience. Do check out SL Taiju and ride on it when you’re here!
Tobu Nikko Station
We boarded another local train from Shimoimaichi Station to Tobu Nikko Station, the main station for most of the sightseeing spots in Nikko. And we are finally here! 😀
It feels like just the beginning.
The surrounding of the station. Look at the mountainous view!
This station is also made very convenient for tourists like us with a few extra features.
First, for those who travel to Nikko with a luggage like me, you would definitely want to enjoy hands-free sightseeing.
Look for the Yamato Transport counter, and they are happy to deliver your baggage to your hotel and even airports (charges apply).
And then you may look for these attraction ticket machines to buy your entrance ticket to skip the queue at the actual sightseeing spots.
There are different machines for Toshugu Shrine, Rinnoji Temple, as well as bus tickets, and the menu is available in multiple foreign languages so purchasing is an ease! By the way if you hold the Nikko Pass, you can ride the buses for free! You just need to show the pass when boarding and alighting.
This interactive information board at the entrance is also very helpful and interesting! It will show you the routes to certain spots and details of the attractions. Do try it out!
By the way, Ritz-Calton will be opening at Nikko in 2020. Looking at this, I could imagine how insanely beautiful the hotel views would be, comes every autumn.
I also spotted a kimono rental service starting from only 1,500 yen (????). I didn’t have time to find out the details, please let me know if you visit and try out. Haha.
I spent two days and one night in Nikko, and visited Toshogu, Rinnoji, Lake Chuzenji, Kegon Falls, and Tamozawa Imperial Villa. There are many more I have yet to visit just in Nikko alone.
I have actually been to Nikko once with the danna just to Toshogu (before we have kids!) on a day trip, now I know that one day is definitely not enough.
The second night, we returned to Tobu Nikko Station, and boarded our train back to Tokyo.
It’s Spacia again!
This train is called Spacia Kegon, named after the magnificent waterfall.
Tokyo Sky Tree Station
The day before we boarded at Asakusa, but this time we alighted at Sky Tree to make one last stop.
So tall there’s no way you would see the top from right below.
That’s all for now.
In the next posts I would be blogging about the sightseeing spots I’ve been to!