Utsunomiya

Utsunomiya (宇都宮) is the capital of Tochigi prefecture, Japan.

Understand

Utsunomiya has more streets lined with horse chestnut trees (栃の木 tochi-no-ki), and more places and products labeled Marronnier (French for Aesculus hippocastanum) than any other city in Japan's Tochigi ("Buckeye") Prefecture.

Utsunomiya is also the hometown of jazz great Sadao Watanabe and bills itself as a Jazz Town that is also famous for its cocktail bars .

Get in

By plane

From Narita Airport, the fastest and most expensive way to reach Utsunomiya is to take the Narita Express train to Tokyo Station and transfer to the Tohoku Shinkansen Yamabiko, Nasuno or Tsubasa service (2 1/4 hours, ¥7800).

From Haneda Airport, take the Keikyu Line train to Shinagawa, then the Yamanote or Keihin-Tohoku line train to Tokyo Station. From there, take the Tohoku Shinkansen (about 1 3/4 hours, ¥5200). A cheaper trip is to continue up the Yamanote to Ueno station and change to the JR Utsunomiya commuter line (3 hours, ¥2290).

By train

Utsunomiya is a major train hub served by the Tohoku Shinkansen Line, JR Tohoku Main Line, Tobu Nikko Line and JR Utsunomiya Line.

Tohoku Shinkansen Yamabiko, Max Yamabiko, Nasuno and Tsubasa trains depart from Tokyo station about three times per hour, with more trains during the evening. The ride costs ¥4800 and lasts just 50-55 minutes.

Direct runs on the regular Tohoku Main Line depart from Ueno station 3-4 times per hour. The trip takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes at a cost of ¥1890.

There are also hourly departures on the Shonan-Shinjuku line from Shinjuku station, reaching Utsunomiya in roughly the same time it takes from Ueno, and at the same price.

JR Nikko Line trains, appropriately bound for Nikko, depart from Utsunomiya.

Tobu line trains run to Tobu-Utsunomiya station from Tochigi every 30 minutes or so. From Asakusa, you can reach Utsunomiya by Tobu rapid train, changing in Shin-Tochigi. This train is typically longer (2 hours) and less convenient than it's JR counterpart, but about 500 yen cheaper for one-way fare (1160 yen).

With the exception of the Tobu line, all of these trains can be used at no charge with the Japan Rail Pass.

By bus

Kintetsu operates the Tochinoki overnight highway bus service from Osaka and Kyoto to Utsunomiya Station. It takes 10 hours from Osaka and 8 1/2 hours from Kyoto and costs ¥11400 and ¥10700 one way, respectively. This service has been spotty with suspensions; it is usually cheaper and more reliable to take a train to Tokyo Station or Shinjuku station, then to ride a bus to your destination from there.

Mito, the capital of neighboring Ibaraki, has highway bus service connecting with Utsunomiya, with departures hourly in either direction.

Get around

There are no subways or additional trains in Utsunomiya; there is a light-rail system under development, but it will not be completed for several more years. For most tourist staying for one night or wishing to simply shop, most stores, hotels, and restaurants are within convenient walking distance from the east and west exits of Utsunomiya Station.

By Foot

Much of Utsunomiya can easily be reached by foot from Utsunomiya Station. Some major shopping, hotels, grocery stores, and other shops can be walked to in five minutes or less. For other areas, such as Orion-Dori or the jazz clubs/restaurants, you can expect about 10 to 15 minutes.

The crime rate is low and incidents are rare. However, do take care at night. Always carry ID with you at all times, as police often perform "Gaijin Checks" (Foreigner Checks) for valid visiting or working visas.

By Taxi

Taxis are readily available from the west side of Utsunomiya station, first floor. Take the west exit, and immediately bear right. Taxis can be found immediately to the right of the bus section. Fares start at about 1,000 Yen and climb fast.

By Bus

Bus services are also available primarily from the west exit (Utsunomiya JR Station). For assistance on finding your bus route, there is a help desk station directly next to the Shinkansen entrance (2nd Floor), as well as a computerized system located just outside of the 2nd floor entrance. Fares start at about 200 yen per adult.

Routes specific to the east side of Utsunomiya (IE, Bell Mall, Utsunomiya University) are available from the east exit of Utsunomiya JR. Follow the walkway until you see the semi-famous “Gyoza-Statue,” approximately where boarding occurs.

A number of free or reduced bus services are available to retail stores such as Fukudaya or Joyful Honda. These bus services usually run by the hour, but are not typically useful to the average tourist.

Please note: Utsunomiya JR Station is undergoing renovations for that will switch the majority of bus, taxi, and other vehicular traffic from the west side to the east side. This stage is expected to be completed in late 2008/early 2009. Check signs and information at arrival for updates.

By Bicycle

Relatively easy, if you know how to cycle, there's always a renting bicycle centre just nearby to the JR Utsunomiya Station. Once you exit from the station, walk towards LALA SQUARE SHOPPING MALL. You will see a bicycle shop across from LaLa Square and the McDonalds next door.

Bicycle parking is restricted in some areas. While theft is unlikely, remember to lock your bike and take your valuables with you. Be careful of traffic, and observe traffic laws and signals especially at night.

""By Rail"" A LRT (Light Rail Transit) System is currently under various stages of development and construction. Operation is expected to start sometime in 2013. No other information is available at this time.

See

Do

Buy

In comparison to Tokyo, Utsunomiya is not much of a place to shop. It does, however, have some variety of stores to keep individuals busy for an afternoon. The vast majority of malls are easily located on or near main street (starting from Utsunomiya JR West Exit). You can walk to most worthwhile areas in 15 minutes, or take a five-minute bus ride.

Eat

Utsunomiya is most famous for its gyōza (餃子) dumplings, available sauteed, deep-fried, boiled, or and steamed with all sorts of stuffings all around the city. You can find gyoza just about anywhere, but here are some key areas.

In addition, there are plenty of other restaurants elsewhere.

For Starbucks fiends, there are Starbucks coffee shops located in Utsunomiya Station (with Wi-Fi), Parco Department Store, and Bell Mall. There are also plenty of fast food chains, such as Mos Burger (inside Utsunomiya Station, first floor), and a McDonalds (outside the main entrance, right side). For those wishing to stay on a budget, the grocery stores located in La La Square (B1) and Utsunomiya Station (1) are your best bet.

Drink

Utsunomiya bills itself as a jazz town and a cocktail area. The quality varies however, in both departments of jazz and cocktails. Cover charges as high as 4000 yen can be expected, with cocktails starting at 1000 yen per drink.

For regular bar experiences, see below.

Sleep

The Utsunomiya city page contains a very extensive list of hotels with links to websites (if available) here ([]) . Hotels range from grand (wedding hotels) to business hotels (small rooms and beds).

Go next

Routes through Utsunomiya

Sendai Nasu-Shiobara  N  S  Oyama Tokyo
Fukushima Nasu-Shiobara  N  S  Oyama Tokyo
Fukushima Nasu  N  S  Kanuma → Tochigi Tokyo
Nikko Imaichi  W  E  END


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, March 13, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.