Travel might be under wraps for now, but there’s still plenty of planning and daydreaming to be done about delightful destinations across the globe. Right now, we’re daydreaming about a place called Sunlight. No kidding – Nikko literally translates to ‘sunlight’ from Japanese. And that’s not the best bit about this small city on the edge of a national park that neighbours Tokyo.
Nikko lies on the edge of the Nikko National Park and is a breath of fresh air for families wanting a quick break from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is home to several UNESCO World Heritage sites including Nikko Toshogu Shrine and natural hot springs.
Jump aboard the Tobu Railway from Asakusa, Tokyo, and you’ll land in Nikko within 2 hours. Now do you get it? Japan’s best kept secret, Nikko is high on our list for when international travel restrictions are lifted. We hardly need more convincing, but all the same, check out the top three activities for families in Nikko, Japan:
Tobu World Square
Satisfy your travel bug even further by taking a world tour in one day! You’ll feel like a family of giants as you wander past 102 internationally famous buildings at 1/25th of their usual scale. This interactive, outdoor architecture museum includes models of the Giza pyramids, Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty and countless Japanese monuments. Plus, there are more than 140,000 figurines of ant-sized tourists.
This history-themed adventure park gives you a taste of life in ancient Japan. Experience the Edo Period of 1603-1868 for real as you wander the town streets. Greet townspeople in traditional costume – including ninjas and samurais – and even dress up yourselves. Be sure to stop in for thrilling sword fights and martial arts demonstrations at the Grand Ninja Theatre. Older kids can test their courage in the haunted Jigoku Temple and their wit in the Karakuri Ninja Maze.
SL Taiju steam train
This is one for the Thomas the Tank Engine fans – young and old! All aboard this steam locomotive – a class C11 coal-powered train from the 1940s. Step back in time on the 35-minute journey through the pretty Nikko countryside and buy some mementos on board. Make sure you stay to watch the SL Taiji do its 180-degree turn on the railway turntables at the terminal stations (Shimo-Imaichi and Kinugawa-Onsen stations).
Check out the Nikko PASS. Especially for foreign visitors, the special discount pass applies if you are visiting Nikko from Tokyo. It includes the round trip, unlimited public transport in Nikko itself and access to attractions.
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