9 Interesting Facts About Nikko (Magic Statues Anyone!?)


I recently took a day trip out to Nikko, and (detailed as I always am) I was determined to retain some knowledge about this marvellous town, so I noted down all the Nikko facts I could find from the signs and leaflets around town.

Here are nine of the best facts about Nikko I found on my journey.

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The Reeves Roamed for 25 days through Japan, taking notes as we went. Our route was based on our typically thorough research, though we also found some surprises along the way. We only write about places we’ve actually been, so you can be confident that the details are first-hand.

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Ben Reeve
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1. The Longest Tree Lined Avenue in the World

a crowd of people walking down a big avenue line by red autumn trees in nikko japan

After the first Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu’s death in 1616, one of the local lords started to plant tress alongside the road as a guard of honour.

Things got a little out of hand.

200,000 trees ended up being planted, of which 12,500 still remain (down from 16,500 in 1971).

If all the facts about Nikko I saw, this has to be my favourite!

SOURCE: Japan Travel

2. It Has the Most Extravagantly Carved Gate in Japan

a japanese style building with gold roof, flanked by two huge trees and with a crowd of people on stairs in front of it. nikko, japan

The Yomeimon Gate which sits at the entrance to Toshogu Shrine, is the most elaborately decorated in Japan, with 508 carving.

It is seven-metres wide, and is also known as ‘the all day gate’ because it’s impossible to get tired of looking at it!

SOURCE: Public Relations Office of Japan

3. It Is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

unesco world heritage sign at nikko

Nikko was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999.

Its inclusion was based on two Shinto shrines (The Tôshôgû and The Futarasan-jinja) and one Buddhist temple (The Rinnô-ji) located in an outstanding natural setting

Interesting, Nikko qualifies for three of the nine UNESCO criteria, two being for cultural reasons (one which I love is ‘to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius’) but also one natural reason – due to the incredible setting of Nikko amongst the mountains.

SOURCE: UNESCO World Heritage List

4. ‘Never Say Kekko Until You’ve Seen Nikko’

a huge stone japanese gateway, with crowd underneath it. nikko, japan

There is a Japanese phrase, ‘never say kekko until you’ve seen Nikko’. Kekko in Japanese means magnificent or wonderful.

It’s hard to argue with.

Can you truly say you’ve seen something magnificent until you’ve seen the mysterious, mossy forests of Nikko with its temples hidden inside?

SOURCE: The Harvard Crimson

5. Founded in the 8th Century

a huge japanese temple, with red trees in front. toshugu shrine, nikko

Nikko was founded in 766 by a Buddhist Monk called Shodu, who built the temple that is now Rinnoji Temple.

This means that Nikko has over 1,200 years of history.

SOURCE: Visit Nikko

6. 121 Lanterns

121 lanterns in nikko japan

In the ground of the Tosgogu Shrine, there are 121 lanterns.

  • 102 made of stone
  • 17 of copper
  • 2 of iron

SOURCE: Signs at Nikko

7. 207 Steps

img 9911

There are 207 steps up to the inner shrine of Toshugu, which lead to the tomb of Tokugawa Ieyasu.

SOURCE: Nikko Station

8. 71 Statues (Or Are There!?)

stone statues with red hats and bib on. taken at kanmangafuchi abyss, nikko, japan

The spectacular Kanmangafuchi Abyss is about a 20-minute walk out of Nikko, and there you’ll find long rows of Jizo statues along the path.

There’s a legend about the Jizo statues of Kanmangafuchi, that is you’ll never count the same number more than once, as they have the power to disappear.

That’s why they’re nicknamed “Bake” Jizo (ghost Jizo).

SOURCE: A Fab Journey

9. The 4th National Park in Japan

gardens of futarasan shrine, nikko, japan

Over 5% of Japan is National Park, so they take them quite seriously.

And Nikko was one of the OGs, opened in the inaugural year of Japanese National Parks, 1934, it was one of a cluster that opened in December of that year.

SOURCE: Wikipedia

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AUTHOR – BEN REEVE

Reeves Roam, is a first-hand travel blog. The Reeves have lived in the UK, South Africa and Australia and have travelled extensively in Europe and Southeast Asia.

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Thanks – Ben, Becca and Gracie

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