Enjoy “collaborations of winter illumination” in Tochigi!

The world of fantasy and lights produced by illumination

Fantasy produced by three million light bulbs
Ashikaga Flower Park’s “Flower Fantasy” (From the end of October to the beginning of February)

As winter draws near, various spots in Tochigi pref. are lit up with gorgeous illuminations. Three million light bulbs light up “Ashikaga Flower Park”, which was only selected from Japan as “Ten Dream Destinations”(for 2014) by the US program, CNN. The Park lighting decorations include a work modeled after the “Great Miracle Wisteria” and a mural on the slope of the hill.

Stream of lights and illumination
Nasu Garden Outlet (Late October – late February every year)

At “Nasu Garden Outlet”, the shopping area is surrounded by illumination. The stream running through the facility reflects royal blue lights shining brightly like a galaxy.

102 world-famous buildings are lit up with fantastic illuminations
Tobu World Square (From the end of November to the beginning of March. Every weekends and holidays afterward until the end of March.)

At Tobu World Square, an architectural museum with reproductions of buildings around the globe and world heritage sites on the 1/25 scale, 102 world-famous buildings are lit up with fantastic illuminations. Take a magical world tour.

Tochigi is also pleasant in the winter.

Yunishikawa Igloo Festival

Tochigi prefecture becomes an entirely different place in the winter. A thousand small igloos are lit up for the Yunishikawa Igloo Festival. The festival is held from late January to early March and is one of the winter traditions of Tochigi.

Yunishikawa Igloo Festival

Contact: Nikko Tourist Association

Tel: 0282-22-1525

Winter landscape of Senjogahara.

Famous spots for viewing autumnal leaves, such as Senjogahara and the Irohazaka Slope, also have beautiful winter landscapes. The snowfields and soft rime set off against the blue sky have a magnificent beauty of their own.

Strawberry picking that can also be enjoyed in the winter.

Tochigi is the largest producers of strawberries in Japan. The strawberry picking here, which starts in January, is another way to enjoy Tochigi in the winter.

Hot springs are abundant in Tochigi and visitors can enjoy dishes with seasonal ingredients from the mountains in the prefecture. Take part in your favorite festivals while visiting World Heritage sites and seeing autumnal leaves or enjoying snow activities. A visit to Tochigi is sure to please any traveler who is looking for a fulfilling trip.

Spring in Tochigi is full of beautiful flowers.

Listen to the sounds of the coming of spring. There are many who believe that spring in Japan means the enjoyment of viewing of cherry blossoms. However, spring is not just cherry blossoms. Spring in Tochigi is filled with the beauty of blooming flowers such as the double-petaled wisteria trellises (Ashikaga Flower Park), which are rare throughout the world.

A landscape of moss pink
Five-leaf azaleas (Mt.JEANS – Nasu Town)
Tulip field
Azaleas (Kurobane Castle Ruins Park, Otawara City)

Rich in content! Get information on the hot spots in Tochigi!

The official tourist information page of Tochigi Prefecture has been renewed! In addition to English, Chinese (traditional and simplified), and Korean; it is now also available in Thai. The photos have been updated and you can see plenty of the hot spots in Tochigi. The site has become even easier to use with features including a page that introduces licensed guide-interpreters, suggestions for model courses, and rankings of popular spots and events. Use the direct link to the site for accommodations when you feel like visiting Tochigi. Do not forget to download the pamphlet before you go!

World Heritage sites that can be reached in two hours from Tokyo.

Nikko Toshogu Shrine – Karamon Gate (national treasure)

The shrines and temples that are designated World Heritage sites can be reached from central Tokyo in just two hours by the Tohoku Shinkansen and limited express trains on the Tobu Railway lines. These trains can take you to sacred places with magnificent scenery such as Nikko Toshogu Shrine, Nikkozan Rinno-ji Temple, and Nikko Futarasan-jinja Shrine.

Nikko Toshogu Shrine is dedicated to Ieyasu Tokugawa, the man who ended the war-torn era at the beginning of the seventeenth century and founded the Edo Shogunate, which lasted for two hundred and sixty years. It is said that Ieyasu chose this area as his grave site so that he could protect Edo after his death because Nikko has long been a sacred place in Shugendo Buddhism and has strong power spots. The North Star is located in the sky between the shrine gate and the famous Yomeimon gate. The shrine’s main buildings are built to form the seven stars of the Big Dipper when connected together by a line.

Other attractions at Nikko Toshogu Shrine that should not be missed are the colorful structures made with extravagant materials such as indigo and gold and the over five thousand carvings. Although the cat is a natural enemy of the sparrow, the Sleeping Cat has a carving of a sparrow on its back. It is said that this signifies the coming of a peaceful era. The Sleeping Cat is also introduced in the Michelin Guide and Lonely Planet.

Shinkyo Bridge, which is the entrance to Nikko Futarasan-jinja Shrine and other World Heritage shrines and temples, is an excellent photo spot. It is visited by photographers from all around the world. Because Nikko Futarasan-jinja Shrine, which has a history of 1,200 years, is known as a place for praying for romance, the wooden pictorial offerings that worshippers write their prayers on have adorable patterns with hearts on them.

Nikko Toshogu Shrine in autumn.
Autumnal leaves at Nikkozan Rinno-ji Temple.

The shrines and temples of Nikko are beautiful in every season with cherry blossoms in spring and snow in winter, but they are their most beautiful in the autumn. The bright red colors of the structures and the red of the autumnal leaves complement each other. Autumn is also the season when the structures are lit up at night. In 2016, Nikko Toshogu Shrine is scheduled to be lit up from November 11th to November 13th and Nikko Futarasan-jinja Shrine, which is known for its beautiful Japanese garden, is scheduled to be lit up from October 25th to November 15th. The view of autumnal leaves glowing at night is sure to be a pleasant memory from your trip to Tochigi.

Tochigi in autumn turns brilliant red with the grass fields, valleys, and roads all decorated with autumnal leaves.

The Autumn Colors Gondola in Nasu.

The autumnal leaves of Japan start to show their colors in Hokkaido and slowly make their way south to reach the mountains of Tochigi between late September and early October. Autumnal leaves of distinct colors can be enjoyed all throughout Tochigi Prefecture, which is 55% covered with forests and trees and has an undulating natural landscape.

Marsh grass with autumn colors at Senjogahara.

At Oku-Nikko’s Senjogahara, which has been registered in the Ramsar Convention for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands, you can see grass with autumn colors. There is an exploration trail that lets you enjoy a roughly two-hour hike around the swamp.

A beechwood forest at Lake Chuzenji-ko.

The shores of Lake Chuzenji-ko, which is the highest lake in Japan at an altitude of 1,200 meters, begin to show color in mid-October each year. The walking paths along the lakeside in the beechwood forest turn orange and are perfect for autumn strolls.

The Irohazaka Slope in autumn.

The trip to Lake Chuzenji-ko is forty minutes by bus from the Nikko Eki-mae bus stop. The Irohazaka Slope, which is on the way, is also a popular spot for viewing autumnal leaves. The slope descends eight hundred-meters to the ground and has seemingly endless sharp curves, letting you enjoy autumnal leaves and thrills all at the same time.

The festivals of Tochigi, a collection of unique events.

Shiobara Onsen Festival

Another autumn attraction in Tochigi is the autumn festivals that are held throughout the prefecture.

The first one is the Shiobara Onsen Festival (In the beginning of September) held in Nasu Shiobara City, which is located in the northern-most part of Tochigi Prefecture. It is a cheerful festival with floats decorated with flowers and dolls depicting characters from folk tales and anime characters. The floats head toward a hot spring town accompanied by energetic music.

Shiobara Onsen Festival

Contact: Shiobara Hot Springs Hotel Association

e-mail: kanko@siobara.or.jp

Kanuma Buttsuke Autumn Festival

The Kanuma Buttsuke Autumn Festival (In the beginning of October), which is held in Kanuma City in central Tochigi Prefecture, has decorated stalls and marching bands with portable mikoshi shrines that parade through the city. A featured attraction is the “Buttsuke” face off, where two or more stands confront each other and play music.

Kanuma Buttsuke Autumn Festival

Contact: Kanuma City Tourism Exchange Division


Nikko Toshogu Shrine, “Shinto Horseback Archery Ritual”

The autumn festival at Nikko Toshogu Shrine, which is held on October 16 – 17 every year, is recommended for those who would like to see a festival with tradition and prestige. The Shinto horseback archery ritual, where archers shoot at targets with arrows from atop running horses, and the parade of a hundred articles and thousand warriors, where people march down the streets wearing outfits from four hundred years ago, are very exciting to watch.

Tochigi Autumn Festival

The main attraction of the Tochigi Autumn Festival, which is held in Tochigi City in the southern part of the prefecture, is the music played by the extravagant floats. Floats decorated with gold- and silver-thread carvings carry dolls depicting gods and historic heroes as they gallantly travel through the streets. The intense sounds of the drums also fill the spectators with excitement. The Tochigi Autumn Festival is held once every two years. It will be held for two days. starting in the beginning of November.

Tochigi Autumn Festival

Contact: Tochigi City Tourist Association

Tel: 0282-25-2356

e-mail: t-kankou@cc9.ne.jp

Japan Cup Cycle Road Race

Every year, the Japan Cup Cycle Road Race, which will be held in the end of October in Utsunomiya, the central city of the prefecture. It is an event that attracts bicycle lovers and regular spectators alike. This is the only competition in Japan where you can get up close to see the cyclists who race in the world’s most prominent races, such as the Tour de France, racing to win. It is the only one-day bicycle race in Asia and is ranked in the top of its category.

Japan Cup Cycle Road Race

Contact: JAPAN CUP CYCLE ROAD RACE Management Office

TEL: 028-689-9311