Nikko is a small city in Japan’s Tochigi Prefecture, in the mountains north of Tokyo. It’s the site of Toshogu, the famed Shinto shrine established in 1617 as a lavish memorial for Tokugawa Ieyasu, founding ruler of the Tokugawa shogunate, or Edo Period. Nikko (日光, Nikkō) is at the entrance to Nikko National Park. Nikko National Park continues to offer scenic, mountainous landscapes, lakes, waterfalls, hot springs, wild monkeys and hiking trails. Nikko and the Okunikko area around Lake Chuzenji, in particular, are well known for their beautiful autumn colors (koyo).
Lake Chuzenji (中禅寺湖, Chūzenjiko) is a scenic lake in the mountains above the town of Nikko. It is located at the foot of Mount Nantai, Nikko's sacred volcano, whose eruption blocked the valley below, thereby creating Lake Chuzenji about 20,000 years ago. Lake Chūzenji is also called Sea of Happiness.
Located on the southern edge of Lake Yunoko, Yudaki Falls (湯滝) has an elevation of 70 meters and a length of 110 meters. An observatory platform near the basin allows close-up views of the breathtaking waterfall.
Three kilometers in circumference, Lake Yunoko (湯ノ湖) was formed when an eruption of Mt. Mitsudake dammed the Yugawa River. A one-hour walking course around the lake allows visitors to enjoy a primeval forest of broadleaf and coniferous trees, wild birds and seasonal flora. The peak season for colorful autumn foliage is from the end of September to the middle of October. Lake Yunoko is part of Okunikko Shitsugen, a registered Ramsar site.
At an altitude of 1400 meters above sea level, the Senjogahara Marshland (戦場ヶ原, Senjōgahara) covers the plateau between Lake Chuzenji and Yumoto Onsen. It offers some of the best hiking in the Nikko National Park and is particularly beautiful during the autumn leaf season in October when the marshland's grasses turn into a reddish yellow and the larch trees into a shiny gold.
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