A stroll through Central Park in Utsunomiya reveals the beauty of each season. For example, in March and April camellias and tulips bloom; in June, find roses, hydrangea and wisteria; April to mid-June brings peonies; just now, in November, deciduous trees light up the park with red, yellow and orange.
The park is home to Tochigi Prefecture Museum; for Y250 (junior high school students or younger kids are free), find everything about the area’s history from dinosaur bones to war relics, as well as displays and dioramas of local insects, birds and wildlife. Baby strollers and wheelchairs are available. The second floor has a little café with big windows overlooking the park’s greenery. I lunched there once years ago. I still remember my order - a reasonably priced, tasty udon salad.
On weekends, when we come by car, we sometimes have to circle around a while until we can nab a space. One of the park’s rules is no bicycles. There are bicycle parking areas at the park entrances. We sometimes bring a plastic pedal-less bike for my preschooler so he can coot down the wheelchair ramps. He has yet to be told off. There are two slides and a tire swing too for kids. Dogs are not allowed in the park, not only due to the mess they leave behind, possibly yellowed flora, but also because the park is home to wildlife. I once spotted a raccoon there. Some people come for bird-watching. We love feeding the ducks, pigeons and carp. I recently checked the internet about that - apparently it is better to feed them uncooked rice or corn, rather than bread or junk food.
In the center of the park there is a large pond from which a fountain sprays water; smaller square ponds also have fountains. Streams with stone or wooden bridges gurgle and gush through the trees. Scenic stone or paved paths offer the visitor options to explore. Some areas are open and mossy or grassy.
My son and I cycled over to Chuo Kouen (as it is known in Japanese) the other day, via Nakayoshi Dori, a former train track that has been made into a greenway (pedestrians only) south of the park. It was a cool November day. Leaves and rocks in the park glistened with rain from the previous day. We had our picnic on the bench in the shelter on the pond side. For those not up to making there own bento, there is a convenience store near the main entrance. Also vending machines in the park offer ice-cream and hot or cold drinks. Like most Japanese parks, trash cans are lacking.
Just behind the picnic shelter, find a administrative/gardening center. Various art, flower and handicraft exhibits show there throughout the year.
My friend had her wedding ceremony in this park. I often come across people painting, reading, or taking photos of the scenery and flowers. Others come to exercise, or like me, for a picnic. Please check out Central Park if you need to refresh your soul while spending time in the city.
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