Earth : Asia : East Asia : Japan : Kanto : Tochigi (prefecture) : Utsunomiya
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.
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).
Utsunomiya is a major train hub served by the Tohoku Shinkansen Line, JR Tohoku Main Line, JR Nikko Line and Tobu 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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'
(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
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.
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), 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.
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.
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).
Utsunomiya Station Hotels
([]). Chisan is an extremely large, extremely affordable hotel group in Japan, with hotels spanning across the country. Rooms are small, but affordable and clean. English Website. From Utsunomiya West Exit, the hotel is directly across the street to the left.
([]). This hotel is located on the east side of Utsunomiya Station, connected by a large pedestrian bridge. 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. It is easy to reach by foot and the rates are reasonable, be it for smaller rooms. Most rates include a free breakfast buffet.