Heavyweight cultural heritage with a breathtaking natural landscape
Hear Tochigi, see Tochigi, speak (about) Tochigi.
A worthwhile destination any time of the year, Tochigi encompasses everything you need for a complete “Japan experience,” and it’s only two hours north of Tokyo. There are inexpensive train passes available for tourists that include roundtrip transportation, which can be purchased at Tobu tourist information centers inside Ikebukuro and Asakusa stations.
Beyond shrines and temples, there are remote hot springs towns, gorgeous seasonal parks, traditional crafts and a hardcore dedication to strawberry cultivation. It’s an easy day trip from the capital that offers a different experience with the seasons’ changing.
Arguably the most popular destination in Tochigi is Nikko. This town serves as the gateway to the Nikko National Park and is home to the grand Toshogu Shrine, just one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites that make up the area. Founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate, Tokugawa Ieyasu is also enshrined here.
For a bit of natural beauty, travel northwest to the Oku-Nikko region to see the Kegon-no-taki waterfall and Lake Chuzenji at the bottom of Mount Nantai. Escape the crowds by heading further to the Nasu highlands, soaking in (relative) silence in one of the hot springs that connect to form the Nasu-onsen-kyo at the base of Mount Nasu.
In the southwest, mountainous Ashikaga is a beautiful place for viewing the wisteria in spring. Ashikaga Flower Park has more than 350 wisterias, which are lit up in the evening, as well as the usual wisteria-themed food and drinks to ramp up the botanic effect.
Don’t forget to try the soba. It’s a local specialty. The soba’s flavor changes seasonally as the ingredients are kneaded into the dough instead of being used as toppings. If you have any time remaining, try visiting one of the many strawberry farms in the prefecture. Tochigi is also known as the “Strawberry Kingdom.”
Over a November weekend, the Coco Farm and Winery host a huge wine festival to celebrate the harvest and sunshine during the last days before winter.
Check out some of the best spots Tochigi has to offer below.