For families with children, and for those with an interest in fish and wildlife, Nakagawa Aqua Park is worth a visit. Dedicate at least four hours to exploring this facility. Bring a lunch or buy it there. If you come with kids in July/August, bring swimwear and towels. Sunhats and sunscreen are warranted most days. If you are visiting Aquapark on a weekend or holiday, check out their workshops and special tours.
Expect a lot of walking. We parked near the entrance, then later re-parked closer to the fishing hole. If you forget your stroller or walking cane, reception lends out strollers, wheelchairs, a walker (for the elderly) and even a push tricycle. Tochigi Prefecture has done well to provide such a barrier free facility. For example, even the fishing pond has a paved slope, and the main washroom provides a courtesy step for small children.
Tours and workshops are in Japanese only. If your Japanese level is not high, consider visiting with a volunteer interpreter, who can also guide you around other area destinations. Contact Japan Tourism Association (JTA) to learn how, and/or check here.
The brochure advises, "From the Tohoku Highway, exit at Nish-Nasuno Shiobara I.C and travel about 28 km (45 min) towards Yuzukami via the Rice Line (Otawara Farm Road), or about 25 km (45 min) towards Yuzukami via National Highway 400."
We set off in the car from Utsunomiya at 9 AM, drove straight there and arrived at 10. With a car, one can easily explore Nakagawa and area, drive to a nearby hot spring after visiting Aqua Park, or try to squeeze in a visit to the sake brewery or museum in nearby Karasuyama, or Otawara rice field pictures (September/October). We left Aqua Park around 3 PM, visited a train park where you can drive a real train, then roasted and sampled free rice crackers and green tea at rice cracker shop before heading home.
If you can't drive, and have plenty of time and little luggage, you can take a train to JR Nasu Shiobara Station east entrance; you will need to wait for the public bus bound for Kurobane-Machi/Yuzukami-Mura. That bus takes an hour to get there. Another option is to get off a train at Nishi-Nasuno Station, and from the east entrance take Toya Kotsu Bus to Ogawa/Bato in which case you are on the bus for about 40 minutes.
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