• Life & Culture

Living in Tochigi Prefecture: Things To Do & Sightseeing

Welcome to our post on things to do in Tochigi, where we’ll tell you about some of the key places in the prefecture, as well as some great Tochigi sightseeing. 



Tochigi prefecture is to the north of Tokyo and Saitama and is a good balance between rural, urban, and accessible to Tokyo.  A favorite for nature and famous historical and world heritage sites, there are lots of things to do in Tochigi for everyone.



Tochigi is a landlocked prefecture, north of Saitama and south of Fukushima, bordered by Gunma and Ibaraki.  It has a population of about two million residents.  It is ranked twentieth in size among all prefectures in Japan.  Its location is about 100km (60mi) to the north of Tokyo.  21% of the prefecture is designated as national and prefectural parks, making it ideal for a Tochigi sightseeing trip.



Tochigi is in the northern Kanto or southern Tohoku region, depending on the perspective of the person.  For most people living in Tokyo, it’s considered to be northern Kanto, while people living in the Tohoku region might consider it southern Tohoku due to it bordering Fukushima.



The Tokugawa clan came from Tochigi and ruled Japan for 265 years.  There are mountains, forests, and rice fields.  In the forests, it’s possible to run into Japanese monkeys (nihon zaru).

A traditional Japanese shrine, on top of a small grassy hill in Utsunomiya City, Togichi Prefecture.

Utsunomiya City

You’re never short of things to do in Tochigi, especially in Utsunomiya City.



The largest city in Tochigi prefecture, Utsunomiya has roughly over 500,000 residents, with over 800,000 in the greater area, making it the 10th most populated city in the Kanto area.  From Narita International Airport to Utsunomiya Station by train it takes about 2hrs 45min. By Tohoku Shinkansen, it is about 50 minutes to Tokyo Station. For domestic flights to Osaka and Chitose, Fukushima Airport in southern Fukushima is about a one hour drive away.



The Tochigi Brex of the Japan Professional Basketball league have their home games in Utsunomiya.

Due to the expressways and trains converging at Utsunomiya, the city is a hub for cargo transportation by railways, distribution, and industry. The Kiyohara Industrial Complex, the largest industrial park in Japan, is located in Utsunomiya, and major companies like Canon, Honda, Yamato, and Japan Tobacco have plants and offices there.



Because of the large number of manufacturers in Utsunomiya and elsewhere in the prefecture, Ibaraki has a high national share of production of various items. 71.3% of camera lenses, 54.5% of medical x-ray equipment, and 23.5% of dental appliances.

A number of fried dumplings, presented on a plate.

There are over 30 gyoza restaurants in the city centre and there is a Gyoza Festival yearly. 

Utsunomiya is also the home of “Bell Mall,” the largest shopping mall in Japan.



Overall living expenses in Utsunomiya a generally similar to other areas in the Kanto region, however, rent prices are on average 54% cheaper than in Tokyo.  A 1K or 1DK near Utsunomiya station would normally be about 40,000~43,000 yen on average.


The Nikko Toshogu shrine, pictured against a clear blue sky.

Nikko is one of the best places for Tochigi sightseeing.


Located in the Nikko National Park, Nikko is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination.  Beginning from the 8th century, Buddhist and later Shinto temples and shrines were raised in mountain forest areas near Nikko.  The town grew around these areas and became a city in 1954.  


The Nikko Toshogu shrine is famous for the Three Wise Monkeys (hear/see/speak no evil) at the maosleum of  Tokougawa Ieasu. Rinno-ji temple is the oldest temple built at Nikko, and the Futarasan shrine join it to form the whole of the world heritage sites at Nikko.  

A Japanese artwork depicting the Three Wise Monkeys, carved elaborately in wood and painted in bright colours.

Surrounding the area there are a number of waterfalls that are popular sightseeing attractions. If you’re looking for things to do in Tochigi, there are a number of waterfalls surrounding the area of Nikko that are popular Tochigi sightseeing attractions. 



Kirifuri waterfall, Ryuzu waterfall, and Kegon waterfall are all famous for spectacular sights.  Shinkyo Bridge at the entrance to the temples as well as Lake Chuzenji round out some of the famous sights.  There are many hiking trails in the mountains around Nikko.



The Ashio copper mine near Nikko was once the source of 40% of all copper mined in Japan.  Opened in the 1600s and closed in 1973, the mine is open for tours of the tunnels and operation.




Since the average temperature in Nikko is closer to that of Hokkaido than Tokyo, (average 11.6C with a low of -0.1C) there is the Kirifuri Ice Arena, which is the home of the Nikko Ice Bucks ice hockey team of the Asia League Ice Hockey. There is also a speed skating oval at the arena.


Tochigi leather

Tochigi leather is a brand of leather started in 1937 in Tochigi.  Recently is has become popular on Instagram and other platforms because of it’s high quality and vegetable tannins used in the tanning process.

A landscape photo of the Nasu area in Tochigi Prefecture, in Japan.

Nasu Area

The Nasu area is ideal for Tochigi sightseeing. The Mountainous region borders the southern Fukushima prefecture.



The Nasu area in the northern part of Tochigi is famous for onsen hot springs, sake manufacturing, and is a mountainous region bordering southern Fukushima prefecture.  The local onsen resorts at Shiobara and Itamuro bring in tourists year-round.  The ski resort at Hunter Mountain is a popular ski destination for skiers living in the Kanto area.



Another popular attraction is the Nasu Animal kingdom. The zoo puts on lots of animal shows and lets you get very close to some wonderful exotic animals.

More Things To Do & Sightseeing In Tochigi

Oya History Museum

Built inside a huge former quarry, The Oya History Museum is a great day out in Tochigi. Aside from being an impressive and beautiful piece of history itself, this museum explains the unique history and geology of the area. Moreover, another area exhibits all of the interesting mining tools and techniques used here in the past.

Ashikaga Flower Park

The flower park in Ashikaga city is a beautiful location for Tochigi sightseeing. Fuji are some of the most loved flowers in Japan, and for good reason. They’re stunning. The flower park displays lots of blue, white and pink fuji, as well as kingusari flowers that look like yellow fuji.


There is even one fuji tree that is 100 years old, and its branches are supported to create a huge platform of fuji flowers. The park is covered with coloured LED lights that glow up beautifully at night too. Fuji plants bloom around May, so this is the best time to visit.

Tobu World Square

When you thought of Tochigi sightseeing, did you think you’d be able to see all of the world’s greatest monuments in one place? Well, kind of… Tobu World Square is a phenomenal theme park that exhibits 1/25th size replicas of famous buildings from around the world. Including the Eiffel Tower, The White House and even The Pyramids!


Even on a 1/25 scale, lots of people are shocked by the size of the monuments at Tobu World Square. This is definitely a unique thing to do in Tochigi.

Izuruhara Benten Pond

If you like scenic locations, Izuruhara Benten Pond is a great location for sightseeing in Tochigi. This traditional Japanese hidden gem is a must-see. The fresh spring pond has beautiful transparent waters that allow you to see right to the bottom, as well as all the fish that live in it.

Kinugawa River Cruise

Do you like boat rides? Why not take a cruise down the Kinugawa River! You can book a 40-minute boat ride down the river, where you will meander through interesting rock formations and stunning landscapes. A Japanese boatman will row you down the calming river in a flat bottomed wooden boat.

Lake Chuzenji

We mentioned this one earlier, but it’s such a great spot of Tochigi sightseeing that we had to go into further detail. This unique scenic lake lies in the mountains above the town of Nikko, at the foot of Mount Nantai.


Mount Nantai is a volcano, and an eruption blocked the valley below, forming Lake Chuzenji around 20,000 years ago. The huge lake has a 25km circumference and is possible to hike around. You can also enjoy the lake’s magnificent views from sightseeing boats. Moreover, a quaint hot spring town lies at the eastern end of the lake called Chuzenji Onsen. This is also the location of the famous Kegon Waterfall.

Kegon Waterfall

As you know by now, the Tochigi prefecture is an incredible sightseeing location. And, the Kegon Waterfall is one you have to see. It’s ranked as one of Japan’s three most beautiful waterfalls. At almost 100 metres tall, you can imagine the crashing sound of this striking waterfall.


You can see the waterfall from a free observation platform at the top or pay to take a 100-metre elevator to the bottom, where you’ll see more impressive views. The waterfall freezes in the winter too, which is an impressive site when it is almost completely frozen solid.

Tochigi Leather

Tochigi leather is a brand of leather started in 1937 in Tochigi. Recently it has become popular on Instagram and other platforms because of its high quality and vegetable tannins used in the tanning process.

Tochigi Strawberry

If you like strawberries, you’ll have plenty of things to do in Tochigi. As well as enjoying the gorgeous Tochigi sightseeing, you can go strawberry picking at one of the many farms throughout the prefecture.


The climate here is perfect for growing delicious strawberries. In fact, the Tochigi prefecture has had the best strawberry yield in Japan since 1998. Tochigi strawberries are famous in Japan, especially well-known brands including Tochitome and Skyberry.

Will You Visit These Tochigi Sightseeing Locations?

There are so many things to do in Tochigi that it’s unlikely you’ll be bored.

Have you ever considered working in Tochigi? If you did, you’d have plenty of spare time to visit all the amazing destinations in the prefecture. Why not head over to our job listings page and see if there is anything that looks right for you.


Interested in living and working in Japan?  Check out ALT jobs with Interac here.

About the Author

Brian McDonough is a consultant at Interac, Japan’s largest provider of ALTs (Assistant Language Teachers). Originally from the US, Brian has lived in Japan for over 25 years, giving him a unique perspective on the cultural differences and challenges people face when moving to Japan. He has first-hand experience of working in Japan as an American.