Playing at the river is fun in summertime in Tochigi. Let’s experience some exciting outdoor activities!
Tochigi Prefecture is located about 60km – 160km (about 40 miles – 100 miles) away from Tokyo. It is about 50 minutes by Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Utsunomiya, the central city of Tochigi. “The Shrines and Temples of Nikko”, a World Heritage Site, are is about 2 hours away from Asakusa.
With Nikko National Park, which consists of 3 areas, and 8 nature parks, Tochigi Prefecture has very rich nature. In summer, you can enjoy a variety of river sports in the clear and clean rivers that flow from the 2,000m high mountain range that stretches from the northern part to the western part of Tochigi Prefecture.
You can enjoy canyoning and rafting at Kinugawa River in the Nikko area and Hoki River in Nasushiobara area.
“Canyoning” is a water sport to follow a mountain stream from the upper part all the way to the downstream. You can experience thrills of sliding down small waterfalls like a waterslide and diving into waterfall basins. Wet suites, helmets and ropes will be prepared and accompanied by well trained instructors, beginners are also welcome to this sport.
Rafting in which you row a small boat down a rapid stream, is a refreshing sport perfect for summer. Using a durable rubber boats also accompanied by an instructor, you can enjoy it safely.
Canyoning and Rafting Experience
Address: 871-2 Kinugawaonsentaki, Nikko City, Tochigi Prefecture
Operating hours: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Fee: Canyoning Adult 7,500 yen + Insurance 500 yen Rafting Adult 7,700 yen + Insurance 500 yen
Directions: 5 min. walk from Kinugawa-onsen Station of Tobu Kinugawa Line
On-the-water stroll in a canoe is recommended in the Nasushiobara area and Lake Chuzenji in Nikko where there are no rough waves.
Mountains turn red and yellow. Tochigi has a lot of beautiful autumn foliage.
Autumn in Japan is the season when you can enjoy beautiful autumn foliage. The beginning of the autumn foliage in Tochigi Prefecture is the end of September. The color of the mountains in the northern part start turning into red and yellow and then it slowly spreads down to the base.
Leaves of maple trees and mountain ash in the Nasu Mountain Range stretching around Mount Chausu start turning colors from the end of September. The ropeway of Mount Chausu, from which you can get a full view of autumn foliage of Mount Nasu, is a popular tourist attraction.
The Nikko area has as many as 48 waterfalls and the most famous one is Kegon Waterfall where water falls from the cliffs from over 97m high. The 10m-wide, 210m-long Ryuzu Waterfall is a powerful waterfall which shape of water running through the rocks resembles a dragon head. Trees around both waterfalls start turning colors from beginning of October, which makes the waterfall look even more beautiful.
“Irohazaka” a winding road in Nikko which has a total of 48 sharp curves uphill and downhill is a famous place for autumn foliage. The types of trees change depending on the altitude, so you can enjoy autumn foliage of a wide variety of colors every time you turn a sharp curve.
“Kurenai-no-Tsuribashi” or Kurenai Bridge, over the Hoki River in Shiobara Onsen located in the northeast part of Tochigi, commands the view of autumn foliage of both sides of the river at one time. There is an open-air bath where you can enjoy bathing and viewing autumn foliage at the same time.
There are also places in town where you can enjoy autumn foliage in Tochigi. Leaves of about 80 maple trees, which are about 90 years old, along Oyama Sando in Nasushiobara area, start turning colors from mid-November. Bright red autumn foliage looks just like a tunnel.
In the grounds of Banna-ji Temple in Ashikaga City, located in the southern part of Tochigi Prefecture, there is a large ginkgo tree about 600 years old. The contrast against the red maple leaves is gorgeous.
Mount Ohira (341m) is in Tochigi City also located in the southern part of the prefecture. Maple trees stand in a row stretching about 400m near its summit and you can enjoy the view of autumn foliage from around the end of November.
Participate and enjoy. Unique and characteristic autumn festivals in Tochigi
In many areas in Japan, festivals are held in autumn when harvesting finishes. Traditional festivals are held in each area in Tochigi as well, to thank gods for a good harvest and to wish family health and safety. You can come across unique and characteristic festivals such as festivals reenacting the scenes in a historic picture scrolls and gallant festivals.
Autumn festivals are held around the same time as autumn foliage, so if you check the dates for festivals in advance, you will be able to enjoy both in one trip.
“Kanuma Buttsuke Autumn Festival” in Kanuma City in the central part of Tochigi Prefecture is popular for its parade where floats with gorgeous decoration march around the city. The sound of “Buttsuke”, where the floats have competition of music when they meet at street crossings, echoes into the night.
The main event of “Tengu Okoku Festival”(In the end of October)of Ohtawara City in the northeast part of Tochigi Prefecture is the competition of “Yosakoi” dance originated in Kochi Prefecture in Shikoku. Many groups from all over Japan gather and proudly show their dance performance with the bouncy rhythm.
“Nasuno Makigari Festival” in Nasushiobara City is a festival that reenacts the scene of a large-scale hunting held in Nasunogahara by Minamoto no Yoritomo who established Kamakura shogunate at the end of the 12th century. The taiko drums and dance expressing the scene of hunting are also performed. You can also taste the pot dish where the dish of that time is arranged into modern style, with wild boar meat, free range chicken, local vegetables and mushrooms cooked with the seasoning of soy sauce and soybean paste (non free).
The “Mashiko Pottery Fair” of Mashiko Town is held twice a year in spring and autumn and is a popular festival bustling with as many as 600 thousand people in total, Mashiko-yaki ware started to be produced around 1800, but it became to be widely known when Shoji Hamada, a distinguished potter in Japan, started creating his works here in 1924. Many other potters including a British potter Bernard Leach also based in Mashiko. It is generally characterized by its thickness and simple and hearty beauty. There are many plates and bowls that can be easily used daily, which are perfect for souvenirs.
Tochigi in autumn is the kingdom of fruits. Pick and eat, enjoy the experience!
Autumn is the “harvest season” in Japan and it is the season when delicious fruits are harvested in Tochigi too. You can taste the Japanese autumn at fruit picking.
You can enjoy grape picking from the end of June to the end of October. There are many kinds of Japanese grapes such as Kyoho and Pione are popular for their large size and sweetness.
“Nikkori” pear, a new variety born in Tochigi (right). Its sugar content is high and big ones weigh as heavy as 1kg. You can enjoy pear picking of a variety of kinds from the beginning of August to mid-November.
You can experience apple picking mainly in October. Many varieties including Fuji, Tsugaru, Jonagold and Orin apples are grown. An apple picked on your own tastes especially delicious. You can drink freshly squeezed juice at some farms as well.
Tochigi Prefecture is close to Tokyo and filled with plenty of fun activities to enjoy on a day trip. Visit Tochigi and experience the beauty of nature, and your trip in Japan will be even more unforgettable!