Escape To Nikko
If you really want a chance to experience a taste of ‘traditional’ Japan, like you might see in the movies, you should check out a place like the city of Nikko. It is only a two hour bullet train, shinkansen, ride away from Tokyo station. Frequently you hear about going to Kyoto, the old capitol that was one of the only cities not bombed during the world war, to experience ‘traditional’ Japanese culture. Yes bigger in size and capacity Kyoto is, it can however be a bit crowded with tourists at times, and not that Nikko doesn't have tourist, just less.
Nikko is a small city where many places close down fairly early. There is the main town center which runs down one main street just outside of the main bus terminal. One of the latest restaurants that you will find open is a small yakitori restaurant with three tables, and delicious smelling smoke will be bellowing out from the front door. Reasonably priced, and a Nikko landmark, the shop is called “Hippari Dako,” and it has all the visitors business cards and notes from around the world posted on the walls. (1011 Kamihatsuishimachi, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 3211401)
If you are traveling on a budget, there is a great place there to stay called The Nikko Park Lodge. It is actually classified as a hostel, but it is very nice, and not like any hostel that I have stayed in before. Here you can get a private room with, private shower and bathroom, air condition or heat, and cable for around 6500 yen a night per person. For shared accommodations and facilities the price is considerably less, though I opted for the private room myself. There is one part of the lodge located directly in the town center across from the bus station if you want centrality, while there is also a second location, where I recommend staying, just a 10 minute walk up the hill, a ride in their free but infrequent shuttle service, or a 3 minute taxi ride which will cost the minimum fare of 730 yen from the main bus station/city center.
Here the owners are very knowledgeable with helping get you around, and they speak multiple languages including Japanese, English, and Italian. They also cook dinner, and breakfast in-house, as well as offering internet, a bar with snacks, and 24 hour vending machines. The lodge in the hills is also just a ten minute walk away from all the major sights. Not to mention, this is a Trip Advisor ‘personal pick,’ so I always trust those places when I search out a new place to stay. You won’t be disappointed coming to Nikko; it is a place that will forever change your life.
*Pro Tip* Even if you don’t stay here, and you don’t want to walk around with all of your bags while you hike around all day, you can store your bags for 300 yen a piece in the downtown location!