Land area: 114,908 ha
Designated on December 4, 1934
Mist hangs over the marsh and lake on a plateau and highlights the beautiful ridgeline of the mountains around them. Water flows out of this place to cascade magnificently 97 m down to the waterfall basin. In historic architecture that is registered on the World Heritage List, visitors can see a number of beautiful items from old times. Nikko is one of the most notable sites in Japan, having both many cultural assets and the seasonal beauty of nature, including the fresh green of the mountains, breeze in summer, colored leaves in the forests and snowscapes in winter. People adore the beautiful landscapes of each season.
Nikko National Park has both natural and man-made attractions. It enjoys varied natural beauty such as high mountains of 2,000 – 2,500 m above sea level, abundant forests, marshes and lakes, and also exquisite architecture typified by the Nikkotoshogu Shrine. As it is close to the metropolitan area and accessible via public transportation, the park attracts many visitors.
The core of the park is the Nikko area which has two types of attractions. One is its historic architecture of cultural value, such as the Nikkotoshogu Shrine, Futarasanjinja Shrine and Rinnoji Temple listed as one of the UNESCO World Cultural sites. The other is the beautiful nature of Oku-Nikko, which is in the upcountry. Nikkotoshogu Shrine is the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, a shogun who played a great role in Japanese history. It was built in the 17th century and has both cultural and historical value. There are many structures and items of interest including exquisite objects of craftwork kept in different buildings in the mausoleum.
Oku-Nikko contains a variety of scenic spots such as Senjogahara and other marshes, mountains including Mt. Shiranesan (2,578 m), which is the highest mountain in the Kanto Region and northward. There are also Lake Chuzenjiko and other lakes, many waterfalls, including Kegonnotaki Waterfall which drops off from a 97 m stone face, surrounding forests of Japanese oaks (Quercus crispula) and other trees and hot springs. While signs of aridification can be observed in Senjogahara Marsh, its open landscape dotted with trees, such as Japanese larches (Larix kaempferi), still has great charm.
Further north, there are many hot springs upstream of the Kinugawa River and its tributaries. In a mountain over these hot spring resorts lies Kinunuma Marsh. This area also enjoys many scenic valleys and waterfalls.
In the northern part of the park stretches the Nasu Mountain Range centering around Mt. Chausudake (1,915 m) which has a very broad base. The range's highest peak is Mt. Sanbonyaridake (1,917 m) where some alpine plants grow. On the slopes of mountains in the northern part of the range, plateaus with broad-leaved forests and ranches stretch out.
In the Shiobara area, there are some hot spring resorts with long histories. Happogahara, a terrace famous for communities of Japanese azalea (Rhododendron molle subsp. japonicum), extends to the east.
As Nikko National Park has rich vegetation, it is a habitat for many animals, including large mammals such as black bears, Japanese shika deer and Japanese macaques. However, the population of Japanese shika deer has been increasing in recent years in Oku-Nikko and causing feeding damage to trees and alpine plants. To prevent damage, guard fences have been built in some areas to keep them off.
In some parts of Oku-Nikko, entry of private vehicles is restricted to conserve nature and visitors are required to use park-provided electric vehicles.