Roots of Japan

Tochigi

Tochigi is a popular vacation spot in Japan that draws large numbers of visitors, no matter the season.There is no airport, however, the area is easily accessible by taking the Shinkansen to Utsunomiya station.Also, with express trains and highway express buses available, many enjoy taking day trips from Tokyo.

Tochigi has an approximate area of 6,408㎢ and an estimated population of 1.95 million people.It has a Pacific Ocean climate, known for dry winters on the plains and summers that have frequent thunderstorms.All areas of Tochigi experience humid summers and dry winters with little rain.Annual rainfall on the plains can be as little as 1,200mm, but in mountainous areas such as Oku-Nikko, they may receive more than 2,000mm.The mountains in the northwest lie in a heavy snowfall zone, leaving it sparsely populated. Most Tochigi residents live on the plains.Tochigi is home to many well-known tourist destinations, such as Nikko, Kinugawa and the Nasu Plateau.Known for its many natural attractions and vacation spots the whole family will enjoy, these scenic areas draw visitors from far and wide.Let’s now take a look at some of Tochigi’s best attractions.As many of them are found in and around Nikko city and Nasu town, we’ll take a closer look at these areas a little later on.
1/ Utsunomiya Zoo
2/ Utsunomiya Futaarayama Shrine
3/ Oya History Museum
4/ Nakagawa Aquatic Park
5/ Ashikaga Flower Park
6/ Ruins of Ashikaga School
7/ Sano Yakuyoke Daishi Temple
8/ Karasawayama Castle Ruins
9/ Manyo Nature Park Katakuri-no-Sato
10/ Omocha-no-Machi Bandai Museum

There are so many incredible places to visit, even when excluding Nikko and Nasu.Oya History Museum has a collection of exhibits on display that are related to the former mining site of Oya Stone.This huge underground space is also used for shooting movies or as a concert venue.Enjoy a unique experience in a mysterious location!
The 130-year-old Great Wisteria at Ashikaga Flower Park is definitely a must-see.Large numbers of tourists visit this park, eager to enjoy its breathtaking beauty.The nighttime illuminations are truly magical!While the park can be enjoyed all year round, we recommend visiting from late April to early May, when the wisteria is at its best.

Let’s now move on and take a look at some of the other popular tourist attractions in Nikko.Nikko, which is especially busy in autumn, is packed with historical and natural attractions.It’s impossible to see it all in one day, so stay one or two nights so you can take your time and explore.Here are our top ten picks for the Nikko and Kinugawa region.
1/ Nikko Toshogu Shrine
2/ Kegon Falls
3/ Irohazaka Winding Road
4/ Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura
5/ Kirifuri Highlands
6/ Tobu World Square
7/ Ryuokyo Gorge
8/ Lake Chuzenji
9/ Kinu Tateiwa Otsuribashi Suspension Bridge
10/ Kinugawa Onsen Ropeway


Even when just covering these two areas, there are too many places to include all of them here!Nikko Toshogu Shrine is one attraction in Nikko that is not to be missed.Check out the famous “Hear no evil, Speak no evil, See no evil” San-zaru (three wise monkeys), and the national treasure, Nemuri-Neko (sleeping cat).Also, don’t miss the final resting place of the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate, Tokugawa Ieyasu.When you visit Kinugawa Onsen, you’ll also want to visit the Kinu Tateiwa Otsuribashi Suspension Bridge.From the bridge you can enjoy beautiful views of the Kinugawa River.It's even more stunning in Autumn!

Let’s now take a look at Nasu, another popular tourist area in Tochigi.Nasu is packed with great vacation spots for families and it’s a dog-friendly destination, too.Visit Nasu on your next family holiday and have fun with your kids!
1/ Nasu Highland Park
2/ Nasu World Monkey Park
3/ Nasu Orgel Museum
4/ Nasu Teddy Bear Museum
5/ Momijidani Suspension Bridge
6/ Senbonmatsu Farm
7/ Sessho-seki Rock
8/ Tsutsuji Suspension Bridge
9/ Ryuka Falls
10/ Nasu Garden Outlet

If you’re traveling with kids, you don't want to miss a visit to Nasu Highland Park.
With plenty of attractions for small kids, and scary rides for those who dare, you can easily enjoy a full day of fun.In summer, there’s a pool to cool off in, so don’t forget your swim suit.At Senbonmatsu Farm, where admission is free, enjoy interacting with the animals or even horseback riding.For a limited time each year, there are also hot-air balloon rides at a reasonable price.How about timing your visit to Senbonmatsu Farm so that you can ride in a hot-air balloon?

Next, let's take a look at some of Tochigi's best cherry blossom spots.
1/ Hachimanyama Park
2/ Shiroyama Park
3/ Senjusan Park
4/ Nikko Kaido Route
5/ Mt. Taihei

Besides the cherry blossoms, the azaleas at Senjusan Park are also very beautiful.The park also includes some small attractions that kids will enjoy, such as a Ferris wheel.Ride the Ferris wheel to enjoy fabulous views of the cherry blossoms.Cherry trees line a 16km stretch of road along the Nikko Kaido Route.Go for a drive and check out one of the longest rows of cherry trees in Japan.Visitors enjoy driving through a cherry blossom tunnel!

Next, let’s check out some of the best spots to enjoy autumn colors.Some of the places we have already mentioned are also beautiful in autumn.Irohazaka Winding Road in Nikko is especially stunning.But the roads can be packed during autumn, so please keep this in mind when you go out.Here is a list of some great places we haven’t yet highlighted where you can enjoy colorful autumn foliage.

1/ Orihime Park Momijidani
2/ Mt. Horai
3/ Oashi Valley
4/ Daisen Sando
5/ Ochiishi

Momijidani, or Maple Valley, in Orihime Park has around 1,000 maples trees which put on a bright and beautiful display of color.On your visit to Orihime Park, also stop by the neighboring Orihime Shrine.The autumn colors of Mt. Horai, a very sacred site, are also worth checking out.

Finally, let’s have a look at Tochigi’s local cuisine.Tochigi produces a variety of agricultural products, but it is especially known for being a major producer of Kanpyo (dried gourd).Some of the unique dishes found in Tochigi are said to bring good luck.Enjoy the local cuisine while you are out exploring!
1/ Ayu (sweetfish) Udon Noodles
2/ Itokoni (simmered root vegetables with adzuki beans)
3/ Mimi udon
4/ Ayu-no-kanroni (sweetfish simmered in soy sauce and sugar)
5/ Kanpyo no Tamago-toji (soup with gourd strips and egg)

Itokoni is a dish made with beans, potatoes, pumpkin and azuki beans, seasoned with miso and soy sauce.As it uses similar looking ingredients, it came to be called “Itokoni”, itoko meaning cousin. “Kanpyo no Tamago-toji” is a local specialty that uses kanpyo, or dried gourd.It is a special dish often served to guests.While you’re in Tochigi, don’t miss out on trying local cuisine using local ingredients.With so much to see and do, Tochigi is an area visitors keep returning to.Choose the perfect season for your visit, and come and explore!

It is my opinion and summary. Please acknowledge that there are various opinions.