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Visiting Nikko in Spring is a truly unique experience for luxury travellers, one that can only be found in this mystical city in Japan. As the Sakura cherry blossoms begin to bloom, the city takes on a beautiful new hue and is painted with colours like no other. Against the backdrop of centuries-old shrines and temples designated as World Heritage Sites, guests are immersed in a one-of-a-kind experience steeped in culture, tradition and sheer beauty.
Celebrate the arrival of spring with festivals & cherry blossom in Nikko
Every year, the Yayoi Festival celebrates the arrival of spring in the most spectacular way. With roots stretching over 1,200 years, this tradition can be called ancient. During this event, locals and visitors pull delightfully adorned floats known as hanayatai around town. These intricately designed pieces of art boast flowers of every colour imaginable and make for an unforgettable sight to behold. So get involved in the festivities and help pull one of these beautiful floats around – it’s sure to be a memory you won’t soon forget.
The Takinoo-jinja Shrine Festival is a cherished tradition that celebrates the arrival of spring in Japan. Every year, the stunning Sakura cherry blossoms provide the perfect backdrop for a unique and beautiful procession. Children dressed in traditional Japanese clothing lead the way before majestic floats overflowing with art and flowers appear, filling the area with beauty and colour. It is an incredible sight to behold and an excellent opportunity to experience authentic Japanese culture.
As spring approaches, the Japanese tradition of hanami (blossom viewing) is celebrated with great joy. Kinugawa Onsen provides a perfect setting for this festive event, as its cherry trees are illuminated in the evening hours, making it possible to continue enjoying the beauty of the blossoms after dark. It’s not all about looking at flowers though; the experience is further enhanced by the delicious food and drinks shared with family and friends.
As the magical cherry blossom trees come alive with colour in springtime, why not explore Nikko’s ancient core on a walking tour? Marvel at majestic shrines and temples surrounded by trees that are over 200 years old. While you’re there, sample some unique dishes that can only be enjoyed during the sakura season; experience authentic Japanese culinary culture!
Every year, the Reitaisei (Grand Festival) takes place in Nikko Toshogu to commemorate its traditional customs and history. For example, on May 17th, you can witness the graceful art of yabusame (horseback archery), followed by a grand procession the next day – with a mikoshi (portable shrine) carried through town and accompanied by 1,000 people dressed in full samurai attire.
Experience Kinugawa Onsen in all its beauty and enjoy views of majestic cherry blossom trees framed by the traditional architecture of torii gates and Shinto structures. Gokoku-jinja and Onsen-jinja Shrine are two of the best places to admire these stunning sakura, so don’t miss out!
Culinary & cultural treats at Nikko during spring
Culinary sensations await visitors too; from traditional spring treats like sakura mochi (sweet rice cake filled with red bean paste) to unique dishes like eggplant tempura, the local cuisine will leave guests wanting more! And when it comes to sightseeing, there’s no better way to enjoy the beauty of Nikko than by taking a stroll along one of its many trails or enjoying a boat ride across Lake Chuzenji.
Not to be overlooked are the magnificent shrines and temples scattered throughout Nikko – which have earned their place as UNESCO World Heritage Sites due to their timeless architectural beauty. From the majestic Toshogu Complex to Futarasan Shrine or Ryuzu Waterfall, plenty of breathtaking natural wonders are waiting to be explored while visiting Nikko during springtime.
Visiting Nikko in Spring is an unforgettable experience reserved for luxury travellers looking for something extraordinary beyond what they’re used to at home. With breathtaking scenery around every corner and opportunities to indulge in cultural activities, delicacies and natural wonders, it promises an unrivalled vacation full of memories that will last long after you’ve gone home. ◼
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© This article was first published online in Jan 2023 – World Travel Magazine.