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Why the Nikko
shrines & temples
Ornate mausoleums of famous 17th-century shoguns gracefully blend into a hilly forested landscape. The two-dozen buildings are famous for their elaborate architectural and decorative elements.
The foremost belongs to Ieyasu Tokugawa. He united Japan and founded the 265-year Tokugawa Shogunate. His shrine is flamboyantly decorated, some say overly so (see photo).
The main gate is covered with hundreds of intricate carvings.
Other major attractions
They include the buildings Rinno-ji, Futarasan, and Taiyuan-Byo - and the photogenic bridge of Shinkyo. And the three Wise Monkeys of "Hear no evil, speak no evil, and see no evil" fame come to life in a wood carving.
Daytrip from Tokyo
The wonder is 125 kilometers (75 miles) north of Tokyo. You can board a two-hour express train from that capital city in the early morning, explore the area, and return in late afternoon.
Major nearby attractions
The high waterfall of Kegon and the beautiful lake of Chuzenji are the two most popular sightseeing destinations.
The wooded mountains and hills in Nikko National Park present one of the most spectacular fall-foliage shows on earth.
When not to come
Summers, weekends, and holidays draw swarms of tourists - try to visit other times. The fall foliage period is also packed with visitors, but you have no choice if you want to experience nature's autumn splendor.
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