From world heritage sites, local gourmet to theme parks, enjoy Autumn in a day trip to Nikko and Kinugawa (Tochigi Prefecture)
Abundant natural sights, suitable for Muslim travelers
The everchanging beauty of nature as the seasons change is undoubtably one of Japan’s most major attractions. Come fall, the mountains turned red and gold with dried foliage will make anyone want to immerse in the sheer richness of Japan’s natural sceneries. If you have any plans to travel to Japan soon, Kinugawa and Nikko of Tochigi Prefecture are two areas that you should not miss out on.
Nikko is as blessed a natural landscape as it gets, home to the scenic Lake Chuzenji, numerous waterfalls, wetlands, and others. You are spoiled for choice when it comes to where and how to enjoy the autumn leaves here, with recommended picks including the tree-lined winding roads of Irohazaka (Kurokamidaira Observatory), and the red, green and white water contracts of Ryuzu Fall and Kirifuri Falls. The aforementioned Lake Chuzenji too, is a must-see grand lake that appears to be surrounded with endless fall foliage.
Besides enjoying the nature scenery, you can also stop by “Shrines and Temples of Nikko”. “Nikko Toshogu Shrine” is the focal point of this complex of Nikko’s best preserved historical buildings and is a must visit spot for any visiting traveler. Also, do not forget to try homely Japanese dishes, such as soba and tempura, deliciously prepared with local ingredients while you are in the area.
As it is, Nikko’s Muslim-friendly measures are well developed. A local railway company, Tobu Railway offers a “NIKKO GUIDE MAP for MUSLIMS” catered specially for Muslim tourists. With it in hand, you will surely be able to travel around the area more comfortably. On top of that, the prayer room which located at Nikko’s gateway, the Tobu Nikko Station, can be used all year round from 9:00 to 16:30. If you wish to use it, please inquire at the Tobu Nikko Station Tourist Center on the 1st floor of the station.
NIKKO GUIDE MAP for MUSLIMS
A World Heritage Site of Nikko that brightens up in Fall
So, let’s start our trip at Nikko with “Nikko Toshogu Shrine”. “Nikko Toshogu Shrine”, which is also a designated World Heritage Site, has more than 400 years of history within its walls. The nearby dazzling colors of the “Youmeimon” and its more than 500 sculptures also levels up into an even more stunning sight when surrounded by warm autumnal shades.
When you’re hungry after a day of exploring, stop by at a long-established restaurant “Kamaya Cafe du Reverbere”, which sits in front of Tobu Nikko Station. It has been about 10 years since they started providing a Muslim-friendly menu. Here, you can enjoy local dishes and desserts such as “Japanese Black Beef Hamburg Steak”, “Halal Chicken Rice Bowl”, and “Nikko Strawberry Tart”. As part of their Muslim-friendly measures, the restaurant practices the use of separate ovens, microwave ovens, cooking utensils, and tableware. Please make a reservation in advance as the menu might need to be specially prepared depending on the season.
Address: 2301, Yamauchi, Nikko City, Tochigi
From: Tobu Asakusa station (Limited Express SPACIA: KEGON) Approximately 110min-Tobu Nikko station
From: JR Shinjuku station (Limited Express SPACIA: Nikko Approximately 120min
Tobu Nikko station
From: Tobu Nikko station (Tobu Bus: Nikko bound for “Chuzenji Onsen” or “Yumoto Onsen”) Approximately 2min-Omotesando
Kamaya Cafe du Reverbere
Address: 12-6, Matsubara, Nikko City, Tochigi
Access: 2-min walk from Tobu Nikko Station
Enjoy the beautiful scenery and local gourmet of Okunikko
If you are visiting Nikko, take the time to veer off to Okunikko for even more spectacular seasonal sights. One of the three most famous waterfalls in Japan, Kegon-no-Taki Waterfall and the soothing sounds of its cascading waters can be enjoyed from a dedicated observation deck. There is also Chuzenjiko, a scenic lake rich in nature that has been loved internationally since the Meiji Era (1868-1912) as an summer retreat. The former villas for foreign ambassadors still remain, and you can explore their distinct architecture and furnishings.
Masuya Ajidokoro by the lakeside of Lake Chuzenji offers Japanese menu options for Muslims in the vicinity to enjoy, such as Yuba (a Nikko specialty soy dish), as well as trout and wakasagi (smelt) from Lake Chuzenji itself. This restaurant also rents out a prayer space, so make sure to mark in your itinerary for a pit stop.
Address: Chuuguushi, Nikko City, Tochigi
Access: Tobu Nikko Station (Tobu Bus bounds for Yumoto Onsen) Approximately 40min – Chuuzenji (5-min walk)- Kegon-no-Taki Waterfall
Chuzenjiko (Lake Chuzenji)
Address: Chuuguushi, Nikko City, Tochigi
Access: Tobu Nikko Station (Tobu Bus bounds for Yumoto Onsen) Approximately 60min – Funenoeki Chuuzenji
Address: 2482, Chuuguushi, Nikko City, Tochigi
Access: 15-min walk from Chuuzenji Onsen Station
Muslim friendly facilities that make Nikko even more wholesome
Next, come visit this tourist attraction at Nikko for a quick trip around the world. “Tobu World Square” is an architectural museum, which showcases miniature 1/25 scale replicas of world-famous buildings and heritage sites, all within one compound. Furthermore, approximately 20,000 Bonsai (Japanese miniature trees in a pot) planted all around the buildings adds even more to the experience of stepping into a mini-Earth upon your arrival.
Also located in the park is “Nikko-Yu-Nami-Tokoro Heian Restaurant”, which also has a menu catered for Muslim visitors. The in-house prayer room is well equipped with wudu facilities and equipment for one to comfortably perform their prayers there between meals.
If all that has gotten you eager to start planning your next Nikko area trip, why not also consider staying at “Kinugawa Park Hotel”? This rustic cottage-hotel hybrid is surrounded by bountiful nature and offers its Muslim patron’s authentic Japanese cuisine specially prepared with separate cooking utensils. Please take note that reservation is required one month in advance and only open to a group of more than a certain number of guests.
Tobu World Square
Address: 209-1, Ohara, Kinugawa-onsen, Nikko City, Tochigi
Access: From Tobu Asakusa station (Limited Express SPACIA: Kinu) Approximately 120min – Tobu World Square
Tobu World Square >
Tobu World Square “Heian Restaurant”
Address: (Inside of Tobu World Square) 209-1, Ohara, Kinugawa-onsen, Nikko City, Tochigi
Heian Restaurant >
Kinugawa Park Hotel
Address: 1409, Ohara, Kinugawa onsen, Nikk City, Tochigi
Access: From Tobu Asakusa station (Limited Express SPACIA: Kinu) Approximately 120min – Kinugawa Onsen station 5-min walk to Hotel.
Kinugawa Park Hotel >
While Nikko’s wondrous landscapes can be enjoyed throughout the year, the best period to visit is from Mid-October to late November when autumn is at its peak. On top of enjoying crisp autumn breezes and the crunch of bright foliage, plan your itinerary the recommended way to also include seasonal gourmet and sightseeing famous World heritage sites.