Tochigi Prefecture is the 20th largest prefecture in Japan, and was known as Shimotsuke Province before the Meiji Revolution.
Bordered by Saitama to the south, Ibaraki to the east, Gunma to the west, and Fukushima to the north, Tochigi and its many areas of beauty is an easy one-day trip by train from Tokyo. Here is a short list of some of Tochigi’s main attractions.
Toshogu Shrine. This ancient shrine, along with many other shrines and temples in Nikko are designated World Heritage sites and a “must see” for anyone visiting Japan. They are extremely beautiful and fascinating.
Kinugawa onsen. Located in the west part of Nikko, this area is noted for its relaxing onsen (hot spring baths) and Japanese style resort hotels.
Lake Chuzenji-ko. (Oku-nikko) This beautiful lake and adjoining smaller lakes, waterfalls, forests, and marshlands includes some of the most beautiful hiking courses in Japan.
Nasu is know throughout Japan as a summer resort area because of its cool highlands. And the Nasu-shiobara area is known for its many onsen spots.
Mashiko pottery (Mashikoyaki) was originally known worldwide for its simple, rustic style. But it has now evolved into something more creative. Twice a year (in early May and early November) they put on a wonderful pottery and crafts festival, with gorgeous pieces of pottery, woodwork, glass, jewelry, leatherwork and textiles for sale at bargain prices.
Utsunomiya, Tochigi’s capital city, is know for (among other things) its delicious gyoza. Hundreds of gyoza restaurants dot the city’s landscape, so if you like eating these Japanese-style Chinese dumplings, this is the place to go!
A Honda-sponsored race course “Twin Ring Motegi” has put the town on the map, but there are also a number of nature and camping sites “Hello Woods” and a great transport museum, “Honda Collection Hall”
Sano’s “Premium Outlet Mall” is an hour’s bus ride from Shinjuku or Tokyo. Sano is also well-known for its many ramen restaurants, as well as its traditional dolls and iron-casted products.
Home to Japan’s oldest university (or academic institution) “Ashikaga Gakko”. The school, which specialized in Chinese philosophy and Chinese medicine, was founded in the 9th century and later restored in the mid 15th century. The town is also home to Ashikaga Flower Park, which features the largest and oldest wisteria in Japan.
- From Haneda Airport: Limousine Bus to JR Utsunomiya Station. Switch to the JR Nikko Line and take that to Nikko Station. (3.5 hrs)
- From Tokyo by Shinkansen: From JR Tokyo Station, take the Tohoku Shinkansen to JR Utsunomiya Station. Switch to the JR Nikko Line and take that to Nikko Station. (1hr 40 min)
- From Tobu Asakusa Station: Take the Tobu Nikko Line (Tokyu Keigon Train) to Tobu Nikko Station. (1hr 50min)
- From JR Shinjuku Station: Take the JR Utsunomiya Line/Tobu Nikko Line (Tokyu Nikko train) direct to Tobu Nikko Station. (2 hrs)
Getting around Nikko
- From Nikko Station (both JR Nikko Station and/or Tobu Nikko Station): The Sekai Issan Meguri Bus is a circular route that stops at Toshogu Shrine and many other places within the town.
- From Nikko Station (both JR Nikko Station and/or Tobu Nikko Station): The Yumoto Onsen Yuki Bus stops at Akechidaira, Chuzen-ji Onsen (Upper Nikko and Chizenji Lake), Akanuma (Senjogahara), Yumoto Onsen.
- From Nikko Station (both JR Nikko Station and/or Tobu Nikko Station): The Kirifuri Kogen/Osasa Bokujo Yuki bus stops at Kirfuri no Taki Falls, Kirifuri Kogen, and Osasa Bokujo.