Nikko is one of the most famous (and crowded) tourist attractions in Japan. In terms of finding Japanese culture and history, you can't get better than this. It's history is steeped in buddhist tradition stretching all the way back to the 8th century; hell, it even has the first shogun buried among the towering cedar trees at the top of the mountains. With such an impressive list of world heritage sites, I had to go! So, two and a half hours later, this is what I found.
Now this was a real steep climb, but it was worth it. You can visit the burial shrine of Tokugawa Ieyasu, who was the first shogun (overlords who wrestled control from the emperors for over three centuries) of a united Japan. Here you can pray to a man who has been deified and worshipped by countless people for years; the irony being that he was a ruthless warlord who at one point had his wife and son executed to further his goal for power.
The train ride back and forth was quite interesting too; the landscape would range from the typical japanese urban jungle to a bamboo forest. I was listening to The Chemical Brothers' song "Star Guitar" and found that the view from my train window did match up with the music video for it. Spooky...
You can catch the train from Asakusa Tobu Station. I highly recommend it.