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Difference between revisions of "Utsunomiya"

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East Asia : Japan : Kanto : Tochigi : Utsunomiya
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=== By plane ===
 
=== By plane ===
  
From [[Narita|Narita Airport]], take the Narita Express train to Tokyo Station and transfer to the Tohoku Shinkansen (about 2-1/4 hours, ¥7510).
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From [[Narita|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).
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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).
  
Infrequent buses (eight per day) run directly to the JR Utsunomiya station from Haneda airport(2.5 to 3 hours, ¥3500).
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Separate Airport Limousine bus services - each called the ''Marronnier'' - run between JR Utsunomiya Station and both Narita Airport (2 3/4 hours, ¥4070) and Haneda Airport (2 3/4 hours, ¥3500).
 
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The Marronnier Bus makes 10 runs from Narita Airport to Utsunomiya between 8:10 am and 8:50 pm. The price is about ¥4000 for adults and ¥2000 for children.
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=== By train ===
 
=== By train ===
  
Utsunomiya is a major train hub served by the '''Tohoku Shinkansen Line''', '''JR Tohoku Main Line''', '''JR Nikko Line''' and '''Tobu Utsunomiya Line'''.
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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.
 
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.
Line 31: Line 29:
 
JR Nikko Line trains, appropriately bound for [[Nikko]], depart from Utsunomiya.
 
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 [[Tokyo/Asakusa|Asakusa]], you can reach Utsunomiya by Tobu rapid train, changing in Tochigi, in about 2 hours, but for only ¥1160.
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Tobu line trains run to '''Tobu-Utsunomiya station''' from Tochigi every 30 minutes or so. From [[Tokyo/Asakusa|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.
 
With the exception of the Tobu line, all of these trains can be used at no charge with the Japan Rail Pass.
Line 37: Line 35:
 
=== By bus ===
 
=== 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 ¥11000 and ¥10400 one way, respectively.
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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 ¥11000 and ¥10400 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.
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[[Mito]], the capital of neighboring [[Ibaraki]], has highway bus service connecting with Utsunomiya, with departures hourly in either direction.
  
 
== Get around ==
 
== Get around ==
  
The city does not have a subway system, but the bus system is very thorough. Most buses converge on JR Utsunomiya station's West Exit. The city information desk near the Shinkansen gates will help point you at the right bus and platform.
 
There also is a bus named "Kibuna" which you can ride and see around the city. You can get off at any bus stop and it costs only 100yen.
 
  
There are also two free shuttle bus services available to two different parts of Utusnomiya for more shopping experiences.
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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.  
  
The first shuttle bus station is in front of a famous gyoza shop just outside the JR Utsunomiya Station.
 
Bus service starts every hour at 11am. The last bus leaves the station at 7pm.
 
At many locations the bus stop is not obvious. The savvy traveler will notice a queue forming on the street corner. This is often an indication of an imminent bus arrival. There are several main bus stops: Baby R' US, Daiso, Jeans Shop, FUKUDAYA, Japan Meat, Honda and many other more second hand shops.
 
The journey to many of these places takes approximately 20 to 25 minutes, depending on traffic conditions. When coming back to the station on weekends, the free bus can be so cluttered that you have to stand for the whole journey, which takes as long as 40 minutes.
 
  
The second shuttle bus station is just right opposite the back entrance of a shopping mall call LALA SQUARE.
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'''By Foot'''
This bus stop is more prominent in the sense that it's a small pull up space that used to be a office or shop.And a man will normally stand outside or inside it distributing a ticket that is valid for that particular day to be given to the bus driver upon coming back. This bus will bring you to the OLD FUKUDAYA. Over there, there's only one shopping mall call FUKUDAYA which is considered still relatively big. And at the opp there's some small restaurants. The bus journey for this trip is much shorter and will take approximately 5 to 8 minutes.
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Relatively, if you knows how to cycle. There's always a renting bicycle centre just nearby to the JR Utsunomiya Station.
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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. 
Once you exit from the station, walk towards LALA SQUARE SHOPPING MALL and from there walk all the way straight.
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You will see a sports shop, bypassing it. Will see Macdonalds. Then just the opposite will be the place for you to rent the bicycle.
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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.
You can't missed it as you will see many many bicycles.
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'''By Taxi'''
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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.
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'''By Bus'''
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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'''By Bicycle'''
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Relatively easy, if you know how to cycle, there's always a renting bicycle centre just nearby to the JR Utsunomiya Station.
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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.
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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.
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""By Rail""
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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 ==
 
== See ==
  
Hachimanyama park is about 1km northwest of JR station and a popular spot for cherry blossom viewing (''hanami'').
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'''Futarasan Shrine'''
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This is probably the most popular shrine in Utsunomiya. The front is lined by a massive stairway several stories in height before ending at a large temple. Excellent for pictures and very convenient. ''> From JR Utsunomiya, get on Kanto bus bound for Sakushin Gakuin, get off Bara-cho : illumination : sunset to 22:00. 10 minute walk from Utsunomiya JR (West Exit), across from Pargo.> 1-1-1 Baba-dori Utsunomiya : (phone) 028-622-5271''
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'''Hachimanyama Park'''
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About 1km northwest of JR station and a popular spot for cherry blossom viewing (''hanami'').
 
Futa-ara-san (二荒山 "Two Storm Mountain") is Utsunomiya's main shrine, located on a small hill in the city center, about 600m west of JR station.
 
Futa-ara-san (二荒山 "Two Storm Mountain") is Utsunomiya's main shrine, located on a small hill in the city center, about 600m west of JR station.
The Art Museum in the northern part of the city also has a park nearby.
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'''Utsunomiya Castle (Utsunomiya-Jo)'''
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The castle is Utsunomiya's claim to Japanese Royalty, where the emperor or other royal members would rest and/or change horses before their last leg to Nikko. The castle is reconstructed from previous excavations and is an excellent place to picnic, but little else. Historical significance and exhibits are limited. Located within two blocks of Utsunomiya City Hall. Can be reached by walking, but first-time visitors may prefer to take a taxi.
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'''Matsugamine Church'''
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The church, built in 1932, is full-dress Romanesque cathedral. Almost all the building is composed of Ohya Stone including exterior and interior walls. ''> From JR Utsunomiya, get on the Kanto Bus bound for Sakushin Gakuin (8 min), get off at Tobu Utsunomiya Station, walk 3 min.> 1-1-5 Matugamine, Utsunomiya : (phone) 028-635-0405'''
  
 
== Do ==
 
== Do ==
  
 
* '''Romantic Mura''', Nissato-machi 254, tel. 028-665-8800, [http://www.romanticmura.co.jp/]. Park open daily 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (4:00 pm Nov-Mar). The No. 51 bus for Romantic Mura leaves from platform no. 8 outside JR Utsunomiya's West Exit and takes about 40 minutes to reach the park, which features a huge onsen; a brewpub and food court; and a FlowerDome containing tropical plants, hydroponically grown herbs, and a wide variety of orchids. The bus runs only once or twice per hour and there is very little English signage. Admission to the 48-hectare park is free. Admission to the FlowerDome costs ¥410 for adults. The local brews cost ¥500 each.
 
* '''Romantic Mura''', Nissato-machi 254, tel. 028-665-8800, [http://www.romanticmura.co.jp/]. Park open daily 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (4:00 pm Nov-Mar). The No. 51 bus for Romantic Mura leaves from platform no. 8 outside JR Utsunomiya's West Exit and takes about 40 minutes to reach the park, which features a huge onsen; a brewpub and food court; and a FlowerDome containing tropical plants, hydroponically grown herbs, and a wide variety of orchids. The bus runs only once or twice per hour and there is very little English signage. Admission to the 48-hectare park is free. Admission to the FlowerDome costs ¥410 for adults. The local brews cost ¥500 each.
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*'''Hachimanyama Park'''. ''5-2-70 Hanawada, Utsunomiya ([[http://www.utsunomiya-cvb.org/en/play/leisure.html]]) : (phone) 028-622-6002. (From JR Utsunomiya, get on Kanto bus bound for Sakushingakuin, get off Kencho-mae : 15 min walk.)'' The Park is quiet, relaxed, and usually pretty empty except for certain summer celebrations. It contains a tower-viewing area, a large foot-bridge, and a play areas for families. It is a worth a picnic if you have extra time.
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*Utsunomiya Zoo. 552-2 Kami Kanai Utsunomiya : (''phone) 028-665-3257 ([[http://www.utsunomiya-cvb.org/en/play/leisure.html]]). (From JR Utsunomiya, get on Kanto bus bound for Ishinada, get off Shimokanai : 5 min walk.)''. Less than an average zoo, but you can feed the animals.
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*Motegi twin race : here you will get to see the museum of Honda, Asimo apart from the race track .  From Utsunomiya, it's about 1-hour taxi ride, or you need to take a bus, which on weekdays only goes as far as Motegi station (a tiny station) nearby. From there, you have to take a short taxi ride. On the weekends, there is a bus service to Twin Ring Motegi.
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(Weekends)
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Bus from Utsunomiya - Motegi station - TWM
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7:15 - 8:24
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8:50 - 10:03 - 10:18
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13:30 - 14:43
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15:40 - 16:53
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17:30 - 18:41
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20:02 - 21:27
  
 
== Buy ==
 
== Buy ==
Utsunomiya's main pedestrian shopping street (Orion-dōri) runs east from Tōbu station towards JR station, just south of main street (大通り, Ō-dori) and parallel to it. West of Tōbu station is Union-dōri, a pedestrian street lined by fashion stores.
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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 East Exit). You can walk to most worthwhile areas in 15 minutes, or take a five-minute bus ride.
PARCO and 109 are also on the street. They are big department stores for buying clothes and cosmetics.
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Another big shopping mall, BellMall Utsunomiya, is about 2km southeast of JR station.
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In front of PARCO, there is a shop famous for green tea called Sekiguchien. In summer, it sells refreshing green tea ice cream to passers-by on the street.
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*'''La La Square''', directly across from Utsunomiya JR, East Exit. The building contains several clothing and shoe stores, a 100 yen store, a bookstore, an electronic store, a pharmacy, a coffee shop, and a grocery store in the basement. There’s also an excellent set of ramen and gyoza restaurants in the basement.
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*'''Utsunomiya Station Stores''', within Utsunomiya Station. Several shops, a grocery store on the bottom floor, gyoza eateries, ramen, omiyage shops, etc.
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*'''Parco''', located down Utsunomiya Main Street, exactly opposite of Utsunomiya’s main shine, Futa-ara-san (二荒山 "Two Storm Mountain"). 10 minutes walk, five-minute bus ride from Utsunomiya Station. 10 floors containing mostly clothing. Starbucks on the first floor, a good bookstore on the 8th, a Wired Café on the 2nd, and the Dragon Fish Café on the 10th. A new shopping mall has just opened across the street, but much of it is still under construction and development.
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*'''Tobu Department Store''', located within the Tobu Station, about 15 minutes walk from Utsunomiya JR. Finer shopping for the area.
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*'''Orion Dori'''. runs east from Tōbu station towards JR station, just south of main street (大通り, Ō-dori) and parallel to it. A pedestrian mall, this is the main site for the yearly festivals Utsunomiya holds during the start of August. Connects with many of the above mentioned locations, such as Pargo and Tobu Department Store. Mostly clothing stores with bars opening at nighttime.  
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*'''Bell Mall''', 10 minutes via bus. Ask the information counter for the exact bus number. The bus departs on the opposite side of the station’s main entrance and not from the usual bus arrival point. Biggest mall in the area. Contains several floors of stores, a large grocery, movie theatre, and a large gym.  
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*'''Fukudaya''', two locations (Utsunomiya and Interpark), both served by bus free bus, ask the information counter in Utsunomiya station. Not particularly large, but contains more eateries and shopping possibilities.
  
 
== Eat ==
 
== 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. Just within the plaza below JR Utsunomiya Station, there's already a couple of restaurants.
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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.
Check out the one in PASEO facing the supermarket. There's one gyoza restaurant that has queue almost throughout the whole day, due to it's cheap cheap price at only 350 yen to start off plus 100yen to pay for the rice. Just beside this long queue gyoza restaurant, is another one which is relatively good as well, slightly higher price but equally good.
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There's one special restaurant which is hidden at a corner of the street of utsunomiya which sells a very wide varieties of KOME ( meaning porridge). The street is just inbetween LALA SQUARE and a Italian Restaurant, and if you pay attention you could see a yellow sighboard on the road that says: KOME KOME. and that's the shop.
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*PASEO, Utsunomiya main street, between Utsunomiya JR (10 min) and Tobu (5 min), across from Pargo department store). B1 several restaurants, reasonably priced.
But the shop is closed on monday.
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*Utsunomiya Station Stores, level one. Look next to the grocery store for long queues.  
The special thing about this porridge is that it's actually a rice patty costing from 120yen and above. And upon ordering and paying through a machine, you hand the ticket to the staff who will then process your order. The rice patty will first be pop into micro oven and then next presented to you in a tray together with a small pot of hot water. All you need to do is to pour the hot water into the bowl of rice patty and then one submerge, just have to "burst" it up with your spoon and you can be quite surprised at how much and what type of thing can hide inside the small rice patty.
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*Orion Dori, various. There are several gyoza specialty restaurants throughout the stretch.
"Delicious" and "Unusual" is the word to describe this kome.
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In addition, there are plenty of other restaurants elsewhere.
  
And at this shopping mall just opp PARCO, there's a supermarket.
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*'''La La Square Ramen Town''' (La La Square, B1, directly across the street from Utsunomiya JR Station). Several “kippu” ramen shops specializing in several types of ramen and gyoza. The atmosphere is actually rather nice for “kippu” ramen. Purchase your meal by buying a ticket from the automated machine, then presenting it to the staff. Bowls start at about 700 yen.  
In this supermarket, there's always cheap daily special food which cost only 100 yen.
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Sometimes it could be a whole handroll of sushi ranges from ''kanpyō'', crab meat, cucumber, tamago etc.....
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Or sometimes it could be tempura of seasonal vegetables, or even fresh delicious hot donuts.
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And prices for this supermarket are sometimes cheaper that what you could buy from FUKUDAYA, another big shopping mall that also has it's own supermarket.
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If fast food is your choice, you could find MOS Burger or LOTTO Burger within the shopping mall just below JR Utsunomiya Station.
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*'''Dragon Fish Café''' (10F, Pargo Department Store, 10 minute walk straight down Utsunomiya main street from Utsunomiya JR Station). Due to the location in a department store, the café closes at 11PM, much to the disappointment of it’s customers. It serves a very good selection of pastas and varied Japanese-Fusion entries. Best tacos in Utsunomiya. The drink menu is also quite good; there is a fully functioning bar that will not make a “sitting charge,” that many Japanese bars partake in. There is also an 8-course, all-you-can-drink dinner option for 3500 yen (great for drinks, but the courses vary in quality). Manager is an R&B fan.  
Or like wise, walk towards LALA SQUARE and towards a sports shop. From the corner, you could find MACDONALDS which has a chicken burger that offer at only 100yen every day and any time of the day. And if you think that the drink is too expensive in Macdonald, take a walk to the third floor of LALA SQUARE. POP into DAISO, grab a 100 yen BIG SIZE COKE.....and total meals make only 200yen!
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The area also produces 90% of Japan's '''kanpyō''' (干瓢) dried gourd strips, and Tochigi Prefecture is Japan's largest producer of strawberries ('''ichigo'''), so many local foods feature these products. The strawberries produced in Tochigi is called "Tochiotome", and it is a bit sweeter than strawberries that are produced in other prefectures. In spring, many people in and out of the prefecture visit strawberry fields to enjoy picking strawberries.
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*'''Wired Café''' (Pargo 2nd Floor, 10 minute walk straight down Utsunomiya main street from Utsunomiya JR Station). A popular Tokyo chain restaurant.  The main attraction of this café are several computers set up for customer use while waiting for food, as well as the Wi-Fi in the restaurant. Food is a mix of Western entries, dishes are moderately to high prices for a cafe.  
  
* '''C'est La Vie''' restaurant bar, Mageshi-cho 1-chome (''near the Hotel New Asahi between Ō-dōri and Orion-dōri; opens onto the alley that meanders alongside the tiny Kamagawa''), tel. 028-632-0402. Open W-M (closed Tu) 11:30 am to 3:30 pm, 5:00 to 10:30 pm. Offers a variety of interesting hors d'oeuvres, including carpaccio of ham, bonito (''katsuo''), or horsemeat (馬肉 ''baniku''). The early bird (5-7 pm) set menu, with choice of either pasta or paella, costs ¥1890. House wines cost ¥350 per glass, wines of the month ¥600 per glass, bottles ¥2500 and up. Start with a shot of bittermelon elixir at ¥250.
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*'''C'est La Vie Restaurant Bar''', Mageshi-cho 1-chome (near the Hotel New Asahi between Ō-dōri and Orion-dōri; opens onto the alley that meanders alongside the tiny Kamagawa), tel. 028-632-0402. Open W-M (closed Tu) 11:30 am to 3:30 pm, 5:00 to 10:30 pm. Offers a variety of interesting hors d'oeuvres, including carpaccio of ham, bonito (katsuo), or horsemeat (馬肉 baniku). The early bird (5-7 pm) set menu, with choice of either pasta or paella, costs ¥1890. House wines cost ¥350 per glass, wines of the month ¥600 per glass, bottles ¥2500 and up. Start with a shot of bittermelon elixir at ¥250.
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For Starbucks fiends, there are Starbucks coffee shops located in Utsunomiya Station (with Wi-Fi), Pargo Department Store, and Bell Mall. There are also plently of fast food chains, such as a Mr. Donut located directly across from Utsunomiya Station ( outside the main entrance, left side), 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 ==
 
== Drink ==
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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.
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For regular bar experiences, see below.
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* '''Akai Tori''', Baba-dori 2-3-10 (''on the corner opposite Parco Department Store and Futaarasan Shrine''), tel. 028-635-5377. A coffee shop decorated with collectible Hawaiian and Polynesian kitsch mostly from the 1940s and 1950s. The friendly owner will do his best to accommodate your musical taste from his huge collection of CDs.
 
* '''Akai Tori''', Baba-dori 2-3-10 (''on the corner opposite Parco Department Store and Futaarasan Shrine''), tel. 028-635-5377. A coffee shop decorated with collectible Hawaiian and Polynesian kitsch mostly from the 1940s and 1950s. The friendly owner will do his best to accommodate your musical taste from his huge collection of CDs.
  
 
*'''The Lion’s Head''''' (1800 – ?) (on Utsunomiya main street, several blocks from Utsunomiya Tobu Station and about 10-15 minutes walk from Utsunomiya JR, across from the Washington Hotel).'' Remodeled in July of 2007, this is the primary hangout for gaijins in the area. Atmosphere is your typical English pub, be it without a large screen TV for soccer games. Beers start at about 600 yen, Guinness, other hard to find brews, and wine are available. Fish and chips are worth ordering off of the menu, but most other food items are too small and unevenly priced. English spoken.  
 
*'''The Lion’s Head''''' (1800 – ?) (on Utsunomiya main street, several blocks from Utsunomiya Tobu Station and about 10-15 minutes walk from Utsunomiya JR, across from the Washington Hotel).'' Remodeled in July of 2007, this is the primary hangout for gaijins in the area. Atmosphere is your typical English pub, be it without a large screen TV for soccer games. Beers start at about 600 yen, Guinness, other hard to find brews, and wine are available. Fish and chips are worth ordering off of the menu, but most other food items are too small and unevenly priced. English spoken.  
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*'''Nohkin’s''' ''(1800 – 0200 (S-Th), -0500 (F, Sat). (Directly above The Lion’s Head on Utsunomiya Main Street, 2nd floor. See above).'' The bar itself is dark and the music quality varies (live or recorded), but the drink menu is one of the more aptly available. A large assortment of cocktails, wines, champagnes, and brews from local and international areas are available. Drinks start at about 500 yen. Ask about their famous waiter who bares a strong resemblance to Ichiro of American Baseball fame.  Some English spoken.
 
*'''Nohkin’s''' ''(1800 – 0200 (S-Th), -0500 (F, Sat). (Directly above The Lion’s Head on Utsunomiya Main Street, 2nd floor. See above).'' The bar itself is dark and the music quality varies (live or recorded), but the drink menu is one of the more aptly available. A large assortment of cocktails, wines, champagnes, and brews from local and international areas are available. Drinks start at about 500 yen. Ask about their famous waiter who bares a strong resemblance to Ichiro of American Baseball fame.  Some English spoken.
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*'''Bird Land''' ''(On the same side of the road as The Lion's Head, cross the crossing immediately west of The Lion's Head, it's about 50 yards away).'' This is the most well known night club in Utsunomiya.  Expect to find Japanese, Brazilians and some native English speakers there on the weekends.  Plays mainly dance and hip-hop.  Serves Kirin, Guinness, a large array of spirits etc. Serves particularly good western food.  Mostly deserted during the week. Also check out the Izakaya Samurai which is below Bird Land.
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*'''Kento's''' ''(Just off Orion Street, turn left at McDonnald's before you hit Tobu station).'' This is a chain bar you can find in number of cities, the slogan is "oldies but goodies".  The design is of a 60's Greaser bar.  It hosts live bands playing mostly 60's & 70's music.
  
 
== Sleep ==
 
== Sleep ==
  
A good place to stay, convenient to both the JR station and the Tobu station is the Tobu Utsunomiya Hotel Grande. It has several restaurants, including a nice breakfast buffet, both Western and Japanese. The staff is friendly, and the rooms are typical business Japanese single rooms (a few doubles and suites are also available). High speed internet is also available upon request. The hotel is located about a 15 minute walk or a short bus ride west of the JR station on the north side of the Grand Avenue (take the number 10 bus from stop 7 and get off on the second stop after the Parco department store. It will be across the street on the north side.
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The Utsunomiya city page contains a very extensive list of hotels with links to websites (if available) here ([[http://www.utsunomiya-cvb.org/en/accommodations/index.html]]) .  Hotels range from grand (wedding hotels) to business hotels (small rooms and beds).  
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===Utsunomiya Station===
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* <sleep name="Chisan Hotel" alt="" address="" directions="from Utsunomiya West Exit, the hotel is directly across the street to the left" phone="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.solarehotels.com/index.html" checkin="" checkout="" price="">Chisan is an extremely large, extremely affordable hotel group in Japan, with hotels spanning across the country. Rooms are small, but affordable and clean.</sleep>
  
If you are having a budget and would like to also still enjoy your trip.
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* <sleep name="Hotel Sunshine" alt="" address="" directions="take the east exit, cross the bridge while bearing right on the fork in the bridge. After going down the stairs, turn right and go one block." phone="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.sunshine-grp.co.jp/" checkin="" checkout="" price="">This hotel is located on the east side of Utsunomiya Station, connected by a large pedestrian bridge. It is easy to reach by foot and the rates are reasonable, be it for smaller rooms. Most rates include a free breakfast buffet.</sleep>
You could always check into a business hotel call UTUSUNOMYIA TOYOKO INN, EKIMAE.
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It's just in front of the station and quite new. Though the rooms may be a little small, but to justify the price.  
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It'll be the best type of hotel for MID budget travelers. The hotel still provide a TV, fridge, air conditioner, hair dryer, bathroom and even the bathing essentials and towels etc......And breakfast is served with 2 rice balls with miso soup and coffee or tea.
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There's even Internet access at the lobby for guests log in.
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== Get out ==
 
== Get out ==
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* [[Nikko]], the grandiose burial site of the Tokugawa Shoguns
 
* [[Nikko]], the grandiose burial site of the Tokugawa Shoguns
 
* [[Mashiko]], a town of pottery and steam trains
 
* [[Mashiko]], a town of pottery and steam trains
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* [[Mito]], capital of [[Ibaraki]] and home of Kairaku-en Park.
 
* [[Oya]], a small town with a giant stone Kannon and underground quarry that provided much of the greenish stone that distinguishes Utsunomiya's architecture
 
* [[Oya]], a small town with a giant stone Kannon and underground quarry that provided much of the greenish stone that distinguishes Utsunomiya's architecture
  
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[[fr:Utsunomiya]]
 
[[ja:宇都宮市]]
 
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[[WikiPedia:Utsunomiya, Tochigi]]
 
[[WikiPedia:Utsunomiya, Tochigi]]
  
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Revision as of 13:15, 1 January 2012

Utsunomiya (宇都宮) [1] is the capital of Tochigi prefecture, Japan.

Contents

Understand

Utsunomiya has more streets lined with horse chestnut trees (栃の木 tochi-no-ki), and more places and products labeled Marronnier (French [2] for Aesculus hippocastanum) than any other city in Japan's Tochigi ("Buckeye") Prefecture.

Utsunomiya is also the hometown of jazz great Sadao Watanabe [3] and bills itself as a Jazz Town [4] that is also famous for its cocktail bars [5].

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).

Separate Airport Limousine bus services - each called the Marronnier - run between JR Utsunomiya Station and both Narita Airport (2 3/4 hours, ¥4070) and Haneda Airport (2 3/4 hours, ¥3500).

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 ¥11000 and ¥10400 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

Futarasan Shrine

This is probably the most popular shrine in Utsunomiya. The front is lined by a massive stairway several stories in height before ending at a large temple. Excellent for pictures and very convenient. > From JR Utsunomiya, get on Kanto bus bound for Sakushin Gakuin, get off Bara-cho : illumination : sunset to 22:00. 10 minute walk from Utsunomiya JR (West Exit), across from Pargo.> 1-1-1 Baba-dori Utsunomiya : (phone) 028-622-5271

Hachimanyama Park

About 1km northwest of JR station and a popular spot for cherry blossom viewing (hanami). Futa-ara-san (二荒山 "Two Storm Mountain") is Utsunomiya's main shrine, located on a small hill in the city center, about 600m west of JR station.

Utsunomiya Castle (Utsunomiya-Jo)

The castle is Utsunomiya's claim to Japanese Royalty, where the emperor or other royal members would rest and/or change horses before their last leg to Nikko. The castle is reconstructed from previous excavations and is an excellent place to picnic, but little else. Historical significance and exhibits are limited. Located within two blocks of Utsunomiya City Hall. Can be reached by walking, but first-time visitors may prefer to take a taxi.


Matsugamine Church

The church, built in 1932, is full-dress Romanesque cathedral. Almost all the building is composed of Ohya Stone including exterior and interior walls. > From JR Utsunomiya, get on the Kanto Bus bound for Sakushin Gakuin (8 min), get off at Tobu Utsunomiya Station, walk 3 min.> 1-1-5 Matugamine, Utsunomiya : (phone) 028-635-0405'

Do

  • Romantic Mura, Nissato-machi 254, tel. 028-665-8800, [6]. Park open daily 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (4:00 pm Nov-Mar). The No. 51 bus for Romantic Mura leaves from platform no. 8 outside JR Utsunomiya's West Exit and takes about 40 minutes to reach the park, which features a huge onsen; a brewpub and food court; and a FlowerDome containing tropical plants, hydroponically grown herbs, and a wide variety of orchids. The bus runs only once or twice per hour and there is very little English signage. Admission to the 48-hectare park is free. Admission to the FlowerDome costs ¥410 for adults. The local brews cost ¥500 each.
  • Hachimanyama Park. 5-2-70 Hanawada, Utsunomiya ([[7]]) : (phone) 028-622-6002. (From JR Utsunomiya, get on Kanto bus bound for Sakushingakuin, get off Kencho-mae : 15 min walk.) The Park is quiet, relaxed, and usually pretty empty except for certain summer celebrations. It contains a tower-viewing area, a large foot-bridge, and a play areas for families. It is a worth a picnic if you have extra time.
  • Utsunomiya Zoo. 552-2 Kami Kanai Utsunomiya : (phone) 028-665-3257 ([[8]]). (From JR Utsunomiya, get on Kanto bus bound for Ishinada, get off Shimokanai : 5 min walk.). Less than an average zoo, but you can feed the animals.
  • Motegi twin race : here you will get to see the museum of Honda, Asimo apart from the race track . From Utsunomiya, it's about 1-hour taxi ride, or you need to take a bus, which on weekdays only goes as far as Motegi station (a tiny station) nearby. From there, you have to take a short taxi ride. On the weekends, there is a bus service to Twin Ring Motegi.

(Weekends) Bus from Utsunomiya - Motegi station - TWM 7:15 - 8:24 8:50 - 10:03 - 10:18 13:30 - 14:43 15:40 - 16:53 17:30 - 18:41 20:02 - 21:27

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 East Exit). You can walk to most worthwhile areas in 15 minutes, or take a five-minute bus ride.


  • La La Square, directly across from Utsunomiya JR, East Exit. The building contains several clothing and shoe stores, a 100 yen store, a bookstore, an electronic store, a pharmacy, a coffee shop, and a grocery store in the basement. There’s also an excellent set of ramen and gyoza restaurants in the basement.


  • Utsunomiya Station Stores, within Utsunomiya Station. Several shops, a grocery store on the bottom floor, gyoza eateries, ramen, omiyage shops, etc.


  • Parco, located down Utsunomiya Main Street, exactly opposite of Utsunomiya’s main shine, Futa-ara-san (二荒山 "Two Storm Mountain"). 10 minutes walk, five-minute bus ride from Utsunomiya Station. 10 floors containing mostly clothing. Starbucks on the first floor, a good bookstore on the 8th, a Wired Café on the 2nd, and the Dragon Fish Café on the 10th. A new shopping mall has just opened across the street, but much of it is still under construction and development.


  • Tobu Department Store, located within the Tobu Station, about 15 minutes walk from Utsunomiya JR. Finer shopping for the area.


  • Orion Dori. runs east from Tōbu station towards JR station, just south of main street (大通り, Ō-dori) and parallel to it. A pedestrian mall, this is the main site for the yearly festivals Utsunomiya holds during the start of August. Connects with many of the above mentioned locations, such as Pargo and Tobu Department Store. Mostly clothing stores with bars opening at nighttime.


  • Bell Mall, 10 minutes via bus. Ask the information counter for the exact bus number. The bus departs on the opposite side of the station’s main entrance and not from the usual bus arrival point. Biggest mall in the area. Contains several floors of stores, a large grocery, movie theatre, and a large gym.


  • Fukudaya, two locations (Utsunomiya and Interpark), both served by bus free bus, ask the information counter in Utsunomiya station. Not particularly large, but contains more eateries and shopping possibilities.

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.

  • PASEO, Utsunomiya main street, between Utsunomiya JR (10 min) and Tobu (5 min), across from Pargo department store). B1 several restaurants, reasonably priced.
  • Utsunomiya Station Stores, level one. Look next to the grocery store for long queues.
  • Orion Dori, various. There are several gyoza specialty restaurants throughout the stretch.

In addition, there are plenty of other restaurants elsewhere.

  • La La Square Ramen Town (La La Square, B1, directly across the street from Utsunomiya JR Station). Several “kippu” ramen shops specializing in several types of ramen and gyoza. The atmosphere is actually rather nice for “kippu” ramen. Purchase your meal by buying a ticket from the automated machine, then presenting it to the staff. Bowls start at about 700 yen.
  • Dragon Fish Café (10F, Pargo Department Store, 10 minute walk straight down Utsunomiya main street from Utsunomiya JR Station). Due to the location in a department store, the café closes at 11PM, much to the disappointment of it’s customers. It serves a very good selection of pastas and varied Japanese-Fusion entries. Best tacos in Utsunomiya. The drink menu is also quite good; there is a fully functioning bar that will not make a “sitting charge,” that many Japanese bars partake in. There is also an 8-course, all-you-can-drink dinner option for 3500 yen (great for drinks, but the courses vary in quality). Manager is an R&B fan.
  • Wired Café (Pargo 2nd Floor, 10 minute walk straight down Utsunomiya main street from Utsunomiya JR Station). A popular Tokyo chain restaurant. The main attraction of this café are several computers set up for customer use while waiting for food, as well as the Wi-Fi in the restaurant. Food is a mix of Western entries, dishes are moderately to high prices for a cafe.
  • C'est La Vie Restaurant Bar, Mageshi-cho 1-chome (near the Hotel New Asahi between Ō-dōri and Orion-dōri; opens onto the alley that meanders alongside the tiny Kamagawa), tel. 028-632-0402. Open W-M (closed Tu) 11:30 am to 3:30 pm, 5:00 to 10:30 pm. Offers a variety of interesting hors d'oeuvres, including carpaccio of ham, bonito (katsuo), or horsemeat (馬肉 baniku). The early bird (5-7 pm) set menu, with choice of either pasta or paella, costs ¥1890. House wines cost ¥350 per glass, wines of the month ¥600 per glass, bottles ¥2500 and up. Start with a shot of bittermelon elixir at ¥250.

For Starbucks fiends, there are Starbucks coffee shops located in Utsunomiya Station (with Wi-Fi), Pargo Department Store, and Bell Mall. There are also plently of fast food chains, such as a Mr. Donut located directly across from Utsunomiya Station ( outside the main entrance, left side), 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.

  • Akai Tori, Baba-dori 2-3-10 (on the corner opposite Parco Department Store and Futaarasan Shrine), tel. 028-635-5377. A coffee shop decorated with collectible Hawaiian and Polynesian kitsch mostly from the 1940s and 1950s. The friendly owner will do his best to accommodate your musical taste from his huge collection of CDs.
  • The Lion’s Head (1800 – ?) (on Utsunomiya main street, several blocks from Utsunomiya Tobu Station and about 10-15 minutes walk from Utsunomiya JR, across from the Washington Hotel). Remodeled in July of 2007, this is the primary hangout for gaijins in the area. Atmosphere is your typical English pub, be it without a large screen TV for soccer games. Beers start at about 600 yen, Guinness, other hard to find brews, and wine are available. Fish and chips are worth ordering off of the menu, but most other food items are too small and unevenly priced. English spoken.
  • Nohkin’s (1800 – 0200 (S-Th), -0500 (F, Sat). (Directly above The Lion’s Head on Utsunomiya Main Street, 2nd floor. See above). The bar itself is dark and the music quality varies (live or recorded), but the drink menu is one of the more aptly available. A large assortment of cocktails, wines, champagnes, and brews from local and international areas are available. Drinks start at about 500 yen. Ask about their famous waiter who bares a strong resemblance to Ichiro of American Baseball fame. Some English spoken.
  • Bird Land (On the same side of the road as The Lion's Head, cross the crossing immediately west of The Lion's Head, it's about 50 yards away). This is the most well known night club in Utsunomiya. Expect to find Japanese, Brazilians and some native English speakers there on the weekends. Plays mainly dance and hip-hop. Serves Kirin, Guinness, a large array of spirits etc. Serves particularly good western food. Mostly deserted during the week. Also check out the Izakaya Samurai which is below Bird Land.
  • Kento's (Just off Orion Street, turn left at McDonnald's before you hit Tobu station). This is a chain bar you can find in number of cities, the slogan is "oldies but goodies". The design is of a 60's Greaser bar. It hosts live bands playing mostly 60's & 70's music.

Sleep

The Utsunomiya city page contains a very extensive list of hotels with links to websites (if available) here ([[9]]) . Hotels range from grand (wedding hotels) to business hotels (small rooms and beds).

Utsunomiya Station

  • Chisan Hotel, (from Utsunomiya West Exit, the hotel is directly across the street to the left), [10]. Chisan is an extremely large, extremely affordable hotel group in Japan, with hotels spanning across the country. Rooms are small, but affordable and clean.
  • Hotel Sunshine, (take the east exit, cross the bridge while bearing right on the fork in the bridge. After going down the stairs, turn right and go one block.), [11]. This hotel is located on the east side of Utsunomiya Station, connected by a large pedestrian bridge. It is easy to reach by foot and the rates are reasonable, be it for smaller rooms. Most rates include a free breakfast buffet.

Get out

  • Nikko, the grandiose burial site of the Tokugawa Shoguns
  • Mashiko, a town of pottery and steam trains
  • Mito, capital of Ibaraki and home of Kairaku-en Park.
  • Oya, a small town with a giant stone Kannon and underground quarry that provided much of the greenish stone that distinguishes Utsunomiya's architecture


Routes through Utsunomiya
SendaiNasu-Shiobara  N noframe S  OyamaTokyo
FukushimaNasu-Shiobara  N noframe S  OyamaTokyo
FukushimaNasu  N noframe S  → Kanuma → TochigiTokyo




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