Tochigi Central Park located in Utsunomiya is gem hidden among busy roads and tall buildings. Located just a 20 minute walk west of Tobu Utsunomiya Station, this elegant park offers a place of peace and relaxation.
The line of tall trees along the sidewalk bordering the park are broken briefly by the iron gates that form the entrance on the main road. If you pass the park too quickly, you might miss the glimpse into the beautiful garden that this gate offers. However, if you take the chance to walk inside, the noise of a city of 500,000 people fades away. The tall trees form a canopy overhead and block out any views of the surrounding city and provide a surprisingly excellent sound barrier.
The front of the park is laid out like a basilica with colonnades of towering trees spaced out by park benches lining the path. These wide walkways encircle a water feature and lead to a large lake complete with ducks and a fountain spouting from the center. Take advantage of the shade of the pergolas as you sit to enjoy this serene view.
Venture past this English-style garden onto the smaller paths beyond the lake. As you stroll to the back of the park, you will encounter a few small waterfalls. Cross the rock bridges to the other side of the small river and explore a new path, or crouch down to feed the koi.
To the very back of the park lies a Japanese garden that harmoniously blends the man made features with the surrounding nature. Take a leisurely stroll on the wooden bridge over the still pond and look for animals that have come to enjoy this peaceful retreat with you. This section of the park is often empty of people and is my favorite spot.
In addition to these beautiful gardens, this park is home to the Tochigi Prefectural Museum where one can learn more about the nature and history specific to Tochigi Prefecture. Researchers at the museum display their findings on several topics including earth science, botany, zoology, archaeology, history, folklore, arts and crafts. For a nominal 250 yen fee for adults, this museum is a great way to spend an afternoon.
Whether you choose to stop here for a picnic lunch break, for mid-day stroll, or to read a book on one of the many benches on a lazy Sunday afternoon this place is for you!
For additional details about this park, check out this article by fellow Japan Travel contributor, Stacey Kurokawa.