Best Spot 16: Utsunomiya (宇都宮)


Utsunomiya (宇都宮) is the capital and most populous city of Tochigi Prefecture (栃木県). The historic town of Nikkō, which I already covered here before, is approximately 25 km northwest of Utsunomiya, also in Tochigi Prefecture.
It has quite a few places to see, but this time I’m only going to cover the ones I visited!

We can start with the Ōya History Museum (大谷資料館)!

It is a really mysterious place that goes 30m underground and has an area of 20,000m2! Which means an entire Tokyo Dome can fit in here!

The place was dug from 1919 to 1986, and having a volume of 300,000m3, more than 10,000,000 stones were taken from here.

Anyway, putting in in few words, it was an ENORMOUS and DARK place!

Hope you can get the idea from the pictures below!

And one more place, I’m introducing to you the Utsunomiya Castle, which is actually the remains of it!

It seems this castle, unlike other Japanese castles, didn’t have a “main tower” growing up in the center. It was actually a group of buildings used by the Shogun to stay over when he was visiting Nikko (where Tokugawa Ieyasu’s grave is located).

An interesting point he told us was that the guarding towers around the castle (of which only two remain) didn’t have windows on the inner side (as you can see in the picture below) so that the guards weren’t able to watch the shogun from above.


Also, it is widely known in Japan that Utsunomiya’s gyoza is the best in all the country, so if you have the chance to go there, I definitely recommend you to try!

But choose carefully the time and place to eat, as people form quite long waiting lines to get it!

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