Visit Nikko before the autumn leaves finally drop off (see the autumn colour report www.japan-guide.com/e/e3800.html). It is spectacular but also has the added bonus of lots of other things to do including the Toshogu Shrine, Lake Chuzenji, Ryuzu and Kegon Waterfall plus a number of hot springs resorts – Kinugawa and Yumoto Onsens. Edo Wonderland is another ‘for the tourists’ park with actors wearing traditional Japanese costumes in an Edo era setting.
Trains go direct from Asakusa station and your best bet is to pick up a Nikko discount pass at 4400 yen – these are highly recommended with all travel and most entrance fees included www.tobu.co.jp/foreign/pass/all_pass But BEWARE!! When you arrive at Nikko station, the buses are not as frequent as you would like and the queues can be eye watering. It takes quite a long time to get between places (for example, an hour between Nikko station and Chuzenji). I did a lovely walk between Ryuzu waterfall and Chuzenji town – the track is well marked and runs parallel to the road. The best part of my trip!
You can also take the train from Ikebukuro which I did, simply because it was my nearest station – it wasn’t clever. The train cost 8000 yen and there is no flexibility on the train time for the return. Due to the buses in Nikko being horrendously infrequent and a 500 people queue in Chuzenji, I couldn’t get my return train home and had to take the little choo-choo to Kusashi (?) and change for another train to Ikebukuro. Don’t do it!
The best way to see Nikko is to take a couple of days. It just isn’t possible to do everything in one day as I thought. I can’t wait to go again!