Located north of Tokyo, approximately an hour’s ride via the shinkansen, the Tochigi prefecture is home to many attractive sites, both natural and man-made, from famous onsen and ski resorts in the Nasu region, and a national park, to UNESCO’s ‘Shrines and Temples of Nikkō’ World Heritage Site.
If you are tried of the bustling city, a quick getaway to Tochigi prefecture can heal your body and mind.
When my partner first told me we were going on a weekend trip to Utsunomiya, I was hesitant to commit to excitement. Make no mistake that being in Japan was in and of itself a thrilling affair for me as I had been dreaming of exploring the country since I was a little girl with her eyes glued to the Ghibli studio movies on the television. On top of that, it was my second visit to Japan but when I was told that the next adventure would be in Tochigi prefecture, as I had never heard much of anything about the location, I could not help but feel reserved until we finally arrived in Utsunomiya, on an overcast, Saturday afternoon and my heart changed.
How to get to Utsunomiya
Before I get into the weekend itinerary and my Tochigi adventure, I would like to offer a brief guide on how to get to Utsunomiya, the capital of the prefecture.
If you are coming from Tokyo, my advice is taking the fast, Tohoku-Hokkaido Shinkansen bound fro Sendai. It takes around an hour-hour fifteen minutes, and costs between 4500-5000 yen (42-47 USD). I think this is a one-way ticket price, and so if you wish to return by regular train, you can do that directly from Utsunomiya station, though it will take roughly two hours.
A cheaper option is taking the local Utsunomiya Line train, then switching to the rapid Line at Akabane station. One-way tickets are around 18 USD, but it takes two hours and twenty minutes to reach your destination.
If you want to go there from more distant cities, say Osaka, I think taking a flight would be a much more convenient option that will still respect your budget.