I arrived in the mountain town of Nikko late in the day after first taking a shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo Station to the city of Utsunomiya and then transferring to a local train that brought me to JR Nikko Station. The hostel I was staying in was close to Shinkyo Bridge and just across the river from Nikko’s UNESCO area, which is a little under a mile away from JR Nikko but I didn’t mind hiking to get there.
By the time I had checked in and put my stuff away it was early evening. I decided to end the day with a walk, starting at Shinkyo Bridge. This bridge was built in 1636 and used to be part of the main approach to Nikko’s temples. These days a modern bridge right next to Shinkyo carries all the foot and vehicular traffic crossing the Daiya River but for a small fee you can pay to walk across Shinkyo Bridge and back. After crossing the modern bridge I went left, following the main road going west. This part of Nikko seems to have gotten a little more developed since my first visit in 2017, probably because there’s no more room for new construction in the central part of Nikko by the two train stations.
About half a mile later I turned north and went up to Nikko’s UNESCO World Heritage sites to see how the various temples and shrines look in the evening. I first came to the area by Futarasan Shrine and the Iemitsu Taiyuin. Though Nikko’s temples normally close down sometime around 4pm or 5pm, depending on the time of year, you can still walk around the general area and about a dozen or so people were up there with me. As it steadily grew darker more people left and at a couple points I found myself all alone.
As the last bit of light was fading away I was outside the Toshogu Shrine (the photos above have been slightly brightened to make them easier to see). Normally Nikko’s temples are flooded with tourists so it was nice to be able to walk around with hardly anyone else in the area. By the time I was done it was pretty dark outside and I started back down towards Shinkyo Bridge. I honestly wasn’t expecting too much out of that evening’s walk but it turned out to be a surprisingly pleasant and I’d repeat the same walk on the following evening.