It only takes a few steps in Nikko to see why this Tochigi city has been a holy place of worship, a final resting place for shoguns and one of the most popular travel destinations in Japan. In 1999, 103 shrines and temples of Nikko were designed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Centuries-old trees and structures designated National Treasures make this city a natural and cultural wonder.
Though it’s more commonly a day-trip destination for Tokyoites, a two-day stay gives more leeway for exploration. Retreat to FUFU Nikko at the end of the day, where the historical and cultural legacy of the city continues to resonate.
Enter a World of Elegance
Take a taxi ride (about 10 minutes) from Nikko Station to drop off your bags before visiting the nearby sightseeing spots. FUFU Nikko is conveniently located within walking distance of all quintessential attractions, including Toshogu Shrine and the iconic Shinkyo Bridge.
Lake Chuzenji, located a 20-minute drive from here, was crowded with foreign ambassadors’ villas in the early 20th century. In contrast, the imperial family established their imperial residence here, likely to get closer to the beautiful nature and sacred air.
You can also surround yourself with nature at the Nikko Botanical Gardens. Alternatively, hike along the Kanmangafuchi Abyss riverside trail lined with about 70 stone Jizo statues.
Taking inspiration from local culture and history, FUFU Nikko infused its decor with the ever-present duality of East and West. The velvet furniture and antique accent pieces harken to the Taisho Era (1912–1926) of budding diplomacy and Western influences in Japanese art.
The hotel also embraces Nikko’s lush nature. Its architecture succeeds in making the space open to nature views without sacrificing privacy by separating the seating areas and dining spaces with intricately carved wood panels and high-backed sofas in the lounge. In the lobby, you’ll find an estimated 400-year-old white azalea tree on one end and plum-blossom-inspired lamps overhead.
Grab a welcome drink at check-in and relax by the fireplace, the first step in winding down after a day of exploration.
Sink Into Utmost Comfort
Guest rooms at FUFU Nikko follow the East-meets-West concept, each with its own variation and color scheme. For every set of colors, rooms are decorated with a matching Japanese fan, rewarding the keen eye that will spot it. These elegant spaces are dressed in velvet and wood, soft ottomans and, in some rooms, tatami corners. The FUFU Luxury Premium Suite has its own balcony.
Rooms come with a full set of toiletries and amenities, including FUFU’s original black tea blend, an original FUFU flower scent and made-to-order vintage-style bronze speakers for your smartphone. Everything you see, touch, taste, smell and hear has been designed to awaken the senses. For a touch of whimsical discovery, keep an eye out for small sculptures that refer to Toshogu Shrine’s “Three Wise Monkeys” and “Sleeping Cat” wood carvings. You can also find the black tea and the decorations at the hotel’s gift shop.
All FUFU Nikko rooms are equipped with large baths filled with water from the hotel’s private natural source of alkaline water. Decompress to the views of foliage and the gentle sound of water drops from the rain chain inspired by those of Buddhist temples. If time allows, wander down to the hotel’s shared baths near Tamozawa River, where you can soak in the large shared baths, post-shower complimentary drink included. Cold beer is a staple at hot springs all around Japan, but FUFU Nikko also offers water to complete your session.
Lounge, Luxuriate and Indulge
FUFU Nikko is the only FUFU hotel to offer afternoon tea, once more inspired by the Taisho Era’s East-meets-West trends. Seasonal sweets and savories range from wagashi to sandwiches that pair well with FUFU’s original tea, served in delicate porcelain. Soft classical music plays throughout the lobby, further lulling you into comfort.
In the evening, enjoy a free flow of alcoholic beverages, champagne being the most popular option, at the lounge. There is no more luxurious pre-dinner treat than a glass of bubbly by the fireplace as the day ends and the night begins.
Follow that with even more decadent dinner drinks. Take your pick from a vast selection of French, Italian, Argentinian, American and Japanese wines, or go hyperlocal with FUFU Nikko’s original Junmai Daiginjo, a nihonshu made in collaboration with Senkin, a leading Tochigi brewery.
Dinners in FUFU Nikko feature seasonal ingredients cooked to perfection and local specialties such as yuba (tofu skin). Fans of fusion cuisine should opt for FUFU’s signature kaiseki course, where they can sample delicate Japanese dishes with Western culinary twists served in gorgeous pottery set atop silver leaf placemats.
Alternatively, treat yourself to a hearty teppanyaki dinner. Notable dishes include foie gras, caviar and steak, all cooked in front of you. Sit back in your counter seat, flanked by heavy red curtains, and enjoy the showmanship and lifting lids from smoke-enveloped gourmet bites.
After a night of restful sleep, the playfulness continues. Start the day by opening up a present of Tochigi delights — breakfast is served in a gift box decorated with bells and ribbons. Small vegetables, fish and meat dishes are accompanied by freshly made rice in a clay pot and FUFU Nikko’s original curry.
A stay at FUFU Nikko starts with a welcome drink, continues with free-flow champagne and ends with breakfast that feels like a farewell present. Until the next time.
1573-8 Hon-cho, Nikko City, Tochigi Prefecture
Photos by Lisa Knight