Nikkō (日光市 Nikkō-shi?, literally “sunlight” or “sunshine”) is a city in the mountains of Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. Approximately 140 km north of Tokyo and 35 km west of Utsunomiya, the capital of Tochigi Prefecture, it is a popular destination for Japanese and international tourists. Attractions include the mausoleum of shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (Nikkō Tōshō-gū) and that of his grandson Iemitsu (Iemitsu-byō Taiyū-in), and the Futarasan Shrine, which dates to the year 767. There are also many famous hot springs (onsen) in the area. Elevations range from 200 to 2,000 m. The mountains west of the main city are part of Nikkō National Park and contain some of the country’s most spectacular waterfalls and scenic trails.
The Japanese saying “Never say ‘kekko’ until you’ve seen Nikko”; kekko meaning beautiful, magnificent or “I am satisfied” is a reflection of the beauty and sites in Nikkō.
As of March 1, 2012, the city has an estimated population of 90,071, with 36,134 households.
Shōdō Shōnin (勝道上人?) established the temple of Rinnō-ji in 766, followed by the temple of Chūzen-ji in 784. The village of Nikkō developed around these temples. The shrine of Nikkō Tōshō-gū was completed in 1617 and became a major draw of visitors to the area during the Edo period. It is known as the burial place of the famous Japanese shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. A number of new roads were built during this time to provide easier access to Nikkō from surrounding regions. Nikkō Tōshō-gū, Futarasan Shrine, and Rinnō-ji now form the UNESCO World Heritage Site Shrines and Temples of Nikkō.
During the Meiji period Nikkō developed as a mountain resort, and became particularly popular among foreign visitors to Japan. The Japanese National Railways began service to Nikkō in 1890 with the Nikkō Line, followed by Tobu Railway in 1929 with its Nikkō Line.
Nikkō was incorporated as a town in 1889, part of Kamitsuga District. It was upgraded to city status in 1954 after merging with the neighboring village of Okorogawa. On March 20, 2006 Nikkō absorbed the old city of Imaichi, the town of Ashio, from Kamitsuga District, the town of Fujihara and the village of Kuriyama, both from Shioya District, to create what is officially the new city of Nikkō. The new city hall is located at the former Imaichi City Hall; the former Nikkō City Hall is now known as Nikkō City Hall-Nikkō Satellite Office.