A 2 hour trip from Tokyo will take a surprising turn when you reach Tochigi. Locals head to this area for the hot springs, golfing and UNESCO Heritage sites. In fact, two of Japan’s top 5 golfing ranges are found in Tochigi prefecture! There is not any one city or place in Tochigi that has a glut of attractions, but you wouldn’t want to limit yourself to one town anyway, right? Because when you head to Tochigi, you are heading into a piece of old world Edo, lush forests and highlands.
Best Places to Go
Horai and Nishi-Nasuno Golf Courses – Although you might not be a golfer, these are some of the best in Japan—and the price reflects it. The courses are expansive and offer a level of difficulty at some holes for everyone to enjoy. The clubhouse that is shared between the two courses as a sprawling interior. The restaurant on site serves amazing Japanese cuisine that reflects the traditional flavour profiles of Japan, like braised eggplant, sukiyaki and grilled eel.
Website: (Japanese only) http://golf.horai-kk.com/
Mt. Nasu and the Nasu Highlands – Japan would be nothing without its volcano-carved landscape. Mt. Nasu is active, and the 100 meter wide crater at the peak spews steam continuously. Crater lakes and onsen are scattered about the mountain, creating a chain of recreational facilities, ryokan and, of course, golf! The highlands add an emerald carpet to the landscape. If you want awesome views, this is one place to go for sure.
Nasu Highland Park – Similar to Mt. Fuji’s Fuji-Q Highlands, this is another jaw-dropping park set upon mountain foothills. Though not as sizeable as some other amusement parks out there, Nasu Highland Park has DragonBall Z inspired rides, a large ferris wheel, rollercoasters and seasonal events for everyone in the family. Sanrio fans will also love Character Hills.
Nasu Animal Kingdom – Meet adorable red pandas, partake in interactive shows, and get up close and personal with some creatures you would have never dreamt of meeting for real. Animal Kingdom promotes wildlife preservation, sustainability and education. Bring the kids and let them learn some valuable lessons while making new animal friends.
Rindoko Family Ranch – Visitors from around the world are welcomed to play with farm animals, milk cows or ride in golf carts around the rolling hills. The nearby lake glitters with fireworks all summer long. For those seeking a leisurely afternoon, you can rent pedal boats too.
Edo Wonderland, Nikko – What everyone heads to Tochigi for! This is a stupendous attraction for international travellers and locals alike. Want to dress up in Edo period garb? Run around like a ninja? Eat how the samurai used to? Edo Wonderland is lovely throughout the year, and you can tell the staff love their jobs. Everyone is so alive with Edo spirit. You don’t want to miss this place.
Kinugawa and Kawaji Onsen – Over 3 million tourists visit these onsen annually. The popularity comes with good reason. Medicinal waters, prime location (right in the heart of Nikko city) and high-rated resorts ring these natural baths. Plus, the scenery that surrounds you adds to the relaxation. Most are open air baths, making these onsen perfect for a day trip.
Places to Eat
Despite its landlocked position on Honshu, Tochigi is not without its own delicious food recipes. In fact, it is one of the few places in Japan that gets inventive with food. Head to Utsunomiya city if you want to see what odd foods are trending. In recent news, there was tomato-lemon-flavored milk, 200 yen gyoza and even gyoza-sprinkles for rice. But if you’re looking for an actual place to sit down and eat, here’s where you should start:
Niku no Fukiage – Everything comes the Japanese way, in sets or in small dishes, making your chance to sample Japanese steak, soba, rice, eggs and pickled vegetables available for a decent price. The beef served here has won awards.
Address: 328-0125 Tochigi-ken, Tochigi, Fukiagemachi 793-2
Always Kamaya, Yorozucho – The building is almost Western colonial in style. And that architecture seems to compliment the style of the food here. Curry rice, English-styled pastries and other East-meets-West fusions can be sampled here.
Address: Tochigi, Yorozumachi 15-25
Daido Ramen, Jonai – The locals call this place the best ramen they have ever tasted. No matter what you’re hankering, Daido Ramen will pour you the bowl to hit that spot. The noodles are thin yet flavorful, the pork is delicately braised and melts in your mouth.
Address: 328-0033 Tochigi-ken, Tochigi, Jonaicho 1-6-24
Tsurumi Shokudo – The best of all things Asian cuisine. Meat-stuffed dumplings are steaming when they arrive, the oyakodon has lumps of chicken, the ramen is silky, and the gyoza are browned to perfection. The bar-like setting makes this place a great gathering spot for locals. Though the menu is written in Japanese, everything comes with a picture detailing what you get in the order.
Address: 328-0111 Tochigi-ken, Tochigi Tsugamachi Ienaka 2115-1
Pak Mahal – It’s not every day you find authentic Indian cooking that offers more than curry. At Pak Mahal, you get made to order naan, bowls of curry for all diets, Tandoori chicken and all the usual Indian delights for a great price.
Address: 328-0053 Tochigi-ken, Tochigi, Katayanagicho 1-2-28