Utsunomiya in Tochigi Prefecture

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Domo arigato.
  • Utsunomiya Futaarayama Shrine

    Utsunomiya Futaarayama Shrine

  • Entrance of Futaarayama Shrine in Utsunomiya

    Entrance of Futaarayama Shrine in Utsunomiya

  • Utsunomiya Futaarayama Shrine

    Utsunomiya Futaarayama Shrine

  • Ema at Futaarayama Shrine in Utsunomiya

    Ema at Futaarayama Shrine in Utsunomiya

  • Dragon water basin at Futaarayama Shrine in Utsunomiya

    Dragon at Futaarayama Shrine in Utsunomiya

  • Hachimanyama Park in Utsunomiya

    Hachimanyama Park in Utsunomiya

  • Display of Utsunomiya Tower in Hachimanyama Park

    Utsunomiya Tower in Hachimanyama Park

  • Hachimanyama Park in Utsunomiya

    Hachimanyama Park in Utsunomiya

  • Hachimanyama Park in Utsunomiya

    Hachimanyama Park in Utsunomiya

  • Utsunomiya Tower in Hachimanyama Park

    Utsunomiya Tower in Hachimanyama Park

  • Hachimanyama Park in Utsunomiya

    Hachimanyama Park in Utsunomiya

  • Shounji Temple in Hachimanyama Park in Utsunomiya

    Shounji Temple in Utsunomiya

  • Shounji Temple in Hachimanyama Park in Utsunomiya

    Shounji Temple in Utsunomiya

  • Utsunomiya Castle

    Utsunomiya Castle

  • Utsunomiya Castle

    Utsunomiya Castle

  • Water Fountain in Utsunomiya

    Water Fountain in Utsunomiya

  • Downtown Utsunomiya near the train station

    Downtown Utsunomiya near the train station

  • High-rise building in Utsunomiya

    High-rise building in Utsunomiya

  • Downtown Utsunomiya

    Downtown Utsunomiya

  • Tagawa River in Utsunomiya

    Tagawa River in Utsunomiya

  • Giraffes in Utsunomiya Zoo

    Giraffes in Utsunomiya Zoo

  • Hippo in Utsunomiya Zoo

    Hippo in Utsunomiya Zoo

  • Elephant in Utsunomiya Zoo

    Elephant in Utsunomiya Zoo

  • Area around Utsunomiya Station

    Area around Utsunomiya Station

  • Plaza Statue at Utsunomiya Station

    Plaza Statue at Utsunomiya Station

  • Cherry Blossom at canal in Utsunomiya

    Cherry Blossom at canal in Utsunomiya

  • View from Utsunomiya Station at night

    View from Utsunomiya Station

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Facts & Figures

Utsunomiya is the capital and the economical center of the Tochigi Prefecture. The city with a population of app. 520 000 covers an area of 416 square kilometers. It is the largest city in the northern Kanto area. Utsunomiya is also called "Gyoza Town" because of the more than 200 goyza (pan fried dumplings) restaurants all over the city. This is a major tourist attraction and one of the reasons why I came here. Look out for the gyoza statue at the Utsunomiya Station (west entrance). The city is also known for its many jazz clubs and festivals. The famous Japanese sax player Sadao Watanabe was born here in 1933.

History

The famous Battle of Utsunomiya Castle (during the Boshin War) took place here in 1868. The town of Utsunomiya was officially established in 1889. It received its city status in 1896.

Location

Map of Japan

The city is located within the Tochigi Prefecture and just 100km north of Tokyo and 25km away from Nikko
Address of Utsunomiya City Tourist Information Center: 1-23 Kawamukocho JR Utsunomiya Station, Utsunomiya, 321-0965 Tochigi Prefecture

How to get to Utsunomiya?

  • 2hr 50min from Narita Airport to Utsunomiya Station by Airport Liner Marronnier
  • 50min from Tokyo (Ueno) to Utsunomiya Staion by JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line or
  • 85min from Tokyo (Ueno) to Utsunomiya Staion by JR Utsunomiya Line (rapid-service)

Sightseeing spots in Utsunomiya

Top:

Hachimanyama Park - The park is the perfect place to enjoy the cherry blossom season. The 89m high Utsunomiya Tower offers great views over the city. You also have to walk once over the long suspension bridge there.

Utsunomiya Futaarayama Shrine - The current building dates back to 1877 after it burned down 4times in the past. The Shinto shrine with its long history was relocated to this site in 828. It is dedicated to Toyoki-Irihiko no Mikoto, the son of Emperor Suijn.

Utsunomiya Zoo - It is a great place for families and you will find there 90 animal species like giraffes, hippos, elephants etc… A small amusement park can also be found within the zoo area.

Utsunomiya Castle - The castle dates back to the 11th century and was built by the Fujiwara clan. It was nearly completely destroyed during the Boshin War (1868 to 1869). What you see today (two turrets, part of the old moat and walls) is a reconstruction from 2007.

Matsugamine Church - This Catholic Church was constructed in 1932 by Swiss architect Max Hinder (1887 - 1963). The unique volcanic Oya Stone was used for the building.

Oya History Museum - The old mining site of the volcanic Oya Stone is really a spectacular place. The huge underground cavern (60m deep) with a space of 20000 square meters features exhibitions about the history and is also used for movie productions, weddings, theatre shows and much more.

Oyaji Temple - Oyaji was founded in 810 by monk Kobo Daishi (774 - 835) during the Heian period (794 - 1185). The 4m high stone carving of the Goddess Kannon (Senju Kannon) is the main highlight of the temple.

Tochigi Science Museum - It is a place for adults and children. Enjoy there many experiments, events and exhibitions. A perfect destination for a rainy day in Utsunomiya.

Gyoza Restaurants - Try out as many as you can:) There are 200 in the city.

Festival & Events (dates can change without notice)

February

Futaarayama Shrine Setsubun or Bean-Throwing Festival (3rd)
Celebration takes place one day before spring is starting (lunar calendar).

March

Utsunomiya Castle Sakura Matsuri (24th)
Celebrate the beauty of the cherry blossom with many local people at the Utsunomiya castle grounds.

October

Kikusui Festival Futaarayama Shrine (29th and 30th)
The festival is famous for the Yabusame. Yabusame is traditional archery on a horseback. After the horse riding games are over Shinto priests carry an decorated sacred palanquin (sedan chairs) through different parts of the city.

November

Tochigi Gyoza Festival (4th)
The Gyoza Festival is a nice way to promote this product to the people. The center of activities are around Utsunomiya castle.

Best Local Food - Utsunomiya is famous for Gyoza

Gyoza

Gyoza are Japanese dumplings (originated in China) filled usually with ground meat and vegetables and wrapped in a thin dough. Over 200 gyoza restaurants are available in Utsunomiya, which makes it the “Gyoza Capital“ in Japan. They are offering a wide variety of dishes like pan-fried, steamed, deep-fried or grilled gyoza with meat, shrimp, mushroom fillings and much more.

Where to stay in Utsunomiya?

My 100 Best Moments in Japan

Train ride from Osaka to Kyoto

I am visiting Japan nearly every year since 2004. This is my collection of the 100 best moments in my favourite country. Enjoy the pictures and I hope you will start your own journey soon.
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