Utsunomiya has a decades old, small amusement park, Tochinoki Familyland. The roller coaster is what first attracted me. I am a wimp when it comes to rides, but their kiddy coaster is fun. My son will have to wait until after his fourth birthday though to be allowed to join me on that ride. For now he is content with the ferris wheel, row boats, go carts, airplane ride and bouncy castle. The carousel with lots of mirrors and music freaks him out a bit. He was the only one on that ride last time, but when he was two, we rode it together and it was much more pleasant for him.
If asked, my son would probably say he likes the ice cream vending machines best (although the same can be found elsewhere). Tochinoki Familyland also has a fast food kiosk, and plenty of picnic tables and benches overlooking a large murky pond. We took a picnic lunch the last time we went.
Feeding the ducks and carp come as a close second as a favorite activity at the park. The feed can be purchased from a machine near the dock, for about the same price as the ice cream, Y100. If you have never fed carp, it’s a must. I once picked one partially out of the water by hooking my finger into its gaping mouth. They don’t have teeth.
I have been to this park on a date, with a two year old, and later with a three year old. I can imagine it would be even more fun with older kids. For babies and toddlers, there is a special room for diaper changing/nursing in the same building as the office. There is also a large permanent tent with lots of cushioned mats for little ones to be let loose on. Also, special performances and events like juggling acts, and the appearance of characters occur through the year – check the homepage for dates.
You can buy 11 tickets for the price of 10 at the window of the office as you enter for Y1,000 or make a day of it with a Y2000 all day passport for adults, Y1,500 for kids. Most rides cost 1-3 tickets and some things like the bouncy castle are cash only.
I don’t like crowds, or sitting in the car to get somewhere, so Tochinoki Familyland rivals Disneyland, Fuji-Q Highland and Nasu Highland Park for me. The most I have ever had to wait to get on a ride is about two minutes, not because there was a line, but because the attendant was taking care of two rides at the same time (weekdays).
A few weeks ago on a fine autumn afternoon I rode my bike with my son on the back to Tochinoki Familyland only to find that it was closed because it had rained in the morning; be forewarned: if there is any rain that day, the park will be closed.
Tochinoki Familyland is about a 40 minute bicycle ride from downtown Utsunomiya. I basically follow the Tobu train tracks to get there. You could take the Tobu Train and get off at Nishikawada Station, then walk about 10 minutes. I tried this in the past and I warn you, if you come with a stroller you will have to carry it up and down lots of steps at the station. Number 31 bus also goes there (about 15 minutes for Y400 from downtown) but do ask the driver first in case you get on the 31 bound for Ishibashi by mistake like I did (in which case it is a good 20 minute walk to the park). If you are on the right bus, you will be able to see the ferris wheel from the terminal station where you get off. There is plenty of free parking although you may have to walk a bit so bring a stroller along if you have younger kids.
Tochinoki Familyland is part of a larger park, the huge Tochigi Sogo Undo Koen which has a stadium, running track, outdoor pools, soccer field, gardens and walking trails. Parking can fill up on weekends when there are events in the park. The north lot is closest to the amusement park.
The video below is a ride on the park's roller coaster. <
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