Nikko is a famous hill-station north of Tokyo. I visited Nikko in mid-April driving from Tokyo with an English speaking Japanese tour guide. Even though I was a little late for the cherry blossom season, I was happy to visit the famous shrines and tourist spots in Nikko. I stayed at the Nikko Station Hotel Classic, a comfortable 4-star hotel with indoor and outdoor thermal baths, located right across the JR Nikko Station.
The Toshogu Shrine in Nikko is Japan's most lavishly decorated Shinto Shrine and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also the final resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate that ruled Japan for over 250 years until 1868. The shrine consists of a dozen beautifully decorated and lacquered buildings covered in carvings and set in a beautiful forest. A five story pagoda stands out near the main entrance of the shrine. The carvings are an expression of the religious belief and faith of the shrine.
The shrine also has a small parking lot. It is about a 5 minute walk from the Shinkyo Bridge and about 35 minutes from the JR Nikko Station. If you don't have a car, you can take the bus from the railway station to the Shinkyo Bridge bus stop and walk to the shrine from there.
Unfortunately, when I was visiting, the main shrine was under construction. However, I was able to visit the other buildings in the shrine. The stairs and pathways of the shrine follow the natural topography of the site and and the whole ambience is permeated with an uplifting spiritual vibration.