Archive for 'Nikko and adjacent areas in Tochigi prefecture' Category

resurrection of classic trains in Kinugawa

By TERRY - Last updated: 土曜日, 4月 30, 2016

Tobu Railway announced  its project of  adopting classic trains in Kinugawa hot spring resort in Tochigi pref. in next summer 2017(



The types of planned trains are SL(steam locomotive) and DL(diesel locomotive). Those old types “retired” from service about 50years ago, but a lot of people still love those good oldies with nostalgic passions. Tobu decided to carry out this reinstatement in order to attract tourists to draw them in Kinugawa overcoming a bad image of the area caused by overflow of the river there last year ue to storms. the trains will run between Shimoimaichi station and Kinugaw-aonsen station (about 12.4km)on KinugawaLine. Each train will have capacity of about 400 passengers and 140 round travels a year at maximum.


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Lighting-up of Nikko Toshogu

By TERRY - Last updated: 金曜日, 10月 31, 2014

Nikko Toshogu shrine, the mausoleum of the Ieyasu Tokugawa, the first shogun of the Edo Shogunate started lighting-up service on the 30th.2014103001002011

This serivice of lighting up Toshogu, Rinnou-ji temple, and Futarasan shrine started 1995 and commemorating the 20th anniversary this time. And as it is also the 15th year of  the  registration of the  World Heritage site of those  Nikko religious fasilities. Therefore, this year they conducted a projection mapping show using  the stone torii-gate of Toshogu for the first. Last year during the service, 22,000 people visited those places in just three days.   This year the service is provided 18:00-21:00 everyday until Nov. 2nd. During the service, free walking tours in the areas of those facilities with guides  are available as well.

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Visit Japan Travel Mart and JATA Toursim EXPO Japan 2014

By TERRY - Last updated: 火曜日, 9月 30, 2014

Two huge international travel marts were held at Tokyo Bigsight in Tokyo. One was “Visit Japan Travel Mart 2014″(Sep.24-26)( and the other was “JATA Toursim EXPO Japan2014″(Sep.25-28)(  2014-09-26-09_06_37-600x450

More than 310 foriegn buyers and about 390 Japanese sellers joined VJTM2014 and had passionate exchanges of information and ideas and hosted busines seccions.  Buyers from Asian countries were especially a lot and about the half of the Japanese sellers were municipalities or relating associations of such local governments.


On the other hand,  a lot of domestic and foreign sellers and buysers joined  JATA Tourism EXPO Japan 2014. Such participants were embassies, tourism bureaus, travel agents, food companies, municipalities, railroads, airlines, hotels. universities, guide associations and so forth.  The main targets were end users of travel services and a lot of  lay Japanese people visited there and the total number was 157,589.  Upon the opening of the event, an ward ceremony  of  good  services and efforts of related promotions was hosted and the Best Tourism Award was given to The Tourism Authority of Thailand and Embassy awards were for  Thailand and Mexico, the best transporatation award was for Japan Railways East, the domestic inbound award was for  the tourism department of Tokyo Metropolis, the publicity award was for a TV show of CXTV, and the chairperson special award was for Okinawa Convention Bureau. (   I personally visited the two big events and collected a lot of interesting information and exchanged ideas with the participants, some of whom were my friends or those I sometimes work with. I enjoyed the delicious food provided by tourism- related restaurants and local specialities and impressed by the greatly enthusiastic atmosphere of energies of the expos as well.

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JATA “TABI HAKU 2013” held

By TERRY - Last updated: 日曜日, 9月 29, 2013

“TABIHAKU 2013” , an international travel showcase, was held Sep.12-15 by JATA(Japan Association of Travel Agents)( in Tokyo BigSight.  (



JATA is the biggest travel agents’ association in Japan and this event was supported by Japan Toursim Agency and other related organizations and businesses. Totally more than 131000 people visited the event and was a record-high in its history. 




A lot of businesses including public associations from various parts of the world opened a booth and introduced their activities. foreign higher officials and related staff were invited with ceremonies.   At one of the subevents, International Business Meeting buyers from countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, Indonesia and others  joined and passionate business meetings with Japanese sellers to create attractive tour services. I served as an interpreter of such meetings. I felt huge energies and enthusiasm in the venue.

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By Jack A. Maruta - Last updated: 火曜日, 5月 8, 2012

It was a nice day when we visited Mashiko to have a look around the crockery fair which is held every Golden Week Holidays.  We can buy crockery at half the price off the market price.  A lot of potters from all over the country opened up tentative stores focusing around Jonaizaka which is the main street of Pottery.

Unfortunately we had devastating tornadoes in Kita Kanto region on the 6th.  One of them wreaked havoc in Mashiko.  I haven’t heard a lot of damages there but I suspect bad weather prevented people to come.  Even Utsunomiya city were I live had a gust.

According to Shimotsuke Shimbun (local newspaper) said that city of Moka and the towns of Mashiko and Motegi in Tochigi, around 914 houses were damaged by a gust.

Nikko English Speaking Guide

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Taue (Rice Planting)

By Jack A. Maruta - Last updated: 水曜日, 5月 2, 2012

I went Mashiko yesterday.  Mashiko is the mecca of pottery in Tochigi.

World famous Hamada Shoji put Mashiko on the global map.  I will write about Mashiko Crockery Festival which is on during Golden Week Holiday season, next time.

Taue season has just started.  Rice is produced by farmers average age over 64 years old.    We can see a lot of young people working on the site in rice planting.  Why?

I think I can answer the question.  Children who work at urban cities come back to their places of origin in Golden Week Holiday period to help their parents who are quite old.

They don’t think they succeed to their parents because of the Japanese Rice Cropping will no longer making money.  Our government can not afford to give such a huge amount of subsidy any more.  Free Trade and Trans Pacific Partnership things are the farmers biggest headache.

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Late spring

By Jack A. Maruta - Last updated: 月曜日, 4月 30, 2012

Not a nice photo but I took this last week in Nikko.

Actually, I tried to take some  photos of  the famous cherry blossoms in Tamozawa Imperial Villa.  Unfortunately cherry blossoms in Nikko was not the right time when I visited.  But Yashio Azaleas was blooming instead.

Cherry blossoms in Nikko will be full this weekend, I should say.

An other famous cherry tree is Kongozakura which is designated as a protected species.

You never miss it if you go to Sanbutsudo Hall, Rinnoji Temple.

Happy Golden Week holiday!!

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Original Nikko Toshogu-shrine

By Jack A. Maruta - Last updated: 日曜日, 4月 29, 2012

Nikko Toshogu-shrine is known as the most colorful and well decorated shrine in Japan.  Above photos are taken not in Nikko but Serada, Ota-shi, Gunma pref. next to Tochigi pref.  These are photos of original Nikko Toshogu-shrine which was built by Iyasasu’s son the second Shogun Hidetada.  After 20 years passed, the third Shogun Iemitsu who loved his grand father rebuilt the world famous Toshogu-shrine which we can see now in Nikko.  Original Nikko Tosogu-shrine.  Original architecture was moved to Serada where Tokugawa’s place of origin.

Please compare above photos and the photo down below.  According to Ieyasu’s will,” build a small shrine and enshrine me as a god” ., Hidetada followed what his father said.  Simply Iemitsu spent nearly 3% of GNP at that time to build such an amazing architecture.

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Newly restored Karamon-gate, Toshogu in Nikko

By Jack A. Maruta - Last updated: 月曜日, 4月 23, 2012

One of the national treasures in Japan is Karamon-gate, Toshogu in Nikko.

One of our group visited there last month to see the procedure of the restoration and we found it very impressive way craftsmen were following.  Now Karamon gate are reappeared in front of us.  What a marvelous job the craftsmen did!!  Now I do understand the meaning of “Never say Kekko (wonderful) without seeing Nikko.”

I believe this restoration was a part of the Toshogu Heisei restoration program which budgeted neary 2 billion yen.  (about 24 million dollars US)

When you come to Nikko, please contact TOTAK guides who are based inTochigi pref. and show you around at reasonable guiding fee.  I think it is worth to be with the guide.

Contact Cool Tours or me directly.

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Nikko Tamozawa Imperial Villa Memorial Park

By Jack A. Maruta - Last updated: 日曜日, 8月 29, 2010

I’ve been to Nikko with TOTAK members the other day.  Main purpose of our visist to Nikko was to appreciate a performance of Takigi Noh Play at Rin-nouji Temple.  Chair person of the society organized the tour not only to see the Noh Play but also including Nikko Tamozawa Imperial Villa Memorial Park. 


Currently we have three Imperial Villas in Japan.  Suzaki Imperial Villa in Shizuoka, Hayama Imperial Villa in Kanagawa and Nasu Imperial Villa in Tochigi.  We used to have an Imperial Villa in Nikko as well.  Nikko Tamozawa Imperial Villa was built in 1899 for imperial prince Yoshihito who would be Taisho emperor.  He was poor in health so that he needed to stay at some of the health resort.  The summer weather in Nikko was suitable for him and the officials (mainly ministry of Imperial hold) decided to build it for him.  After the world war two, due to the new constitution introduced, Nikko Tamozawa Imperial Villa was abolished in 1947.  However, one of Tochigi authorities maintain the property as one of parks in Tochigi.  You should go there while you are here in Tochigi, Japan.

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Mikamoyama Park

By Jack A. Maruta - Last updated: 月曜日, 6月 28, 2010

Mikamoyama parkAfter we enjoyed Ramen noodles in Sano and window shopping at the premium outlet, we dropped by Mikamoyama Park.  The name of Mikamoyama is very popular among Japanese people.  The oldest existing collection of Japanese poetry, Manyoshu (Collection of Ten Thousand leaves) compiled some time 759 AD. during Nara period includes Mikamoyama poet.

しもつけぬ みかもの山の こならのす まくはしころは たかけかもたむ

Actually I know the name of Mikamoyama but I never knew the whole poet.  I guess most of Japanese people are the same as me. 

A part of Mikamoyama is the local government running park. 


Most of Japanese facilities require admission fee for us to enter, but this park is running by local government so that only you have to pay is a motive ride (train?).

We used the Motorway back to Utsunomiya.  It took us only 40 minutes.

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Sano, famous for Ramen, Yakuyoke-Daishi and Brand-shop outlets.

By Jack A. Maruta - Last updated: 水曜日, 6月 16, 2010

Bamboo noodle making utensil When we arrived at Sano was just after lunch time, and we were so hungry that we jumped in one of the famous Sano Ramen restaurnat.  I never thought to take photos of Ramen noodle because of my starving stomach.  After the meal, I asked the staff to show us how to make Sano Ramen noodles.  Unfortuanately noodles has been made in the morning, so that he used the towel instead of dough for us to demonstrate how to use  bamboo.  Sano Ramen noodles are made such a way supposed to be, but only 4 or 5 restaurants are following this method.  We really enjoyed the texture of the noodles and also the taste of broth.

Sano Outlets

Sano Outlets

We have not visit Sano Yakuyoke Daishi (SYD not Sydney though) this time.  We visited Sano Premium Outlet instead.

 There are a lot of brand shops.  We saw a lot of people but not so many people walking with shopping bags due to our economy, I guess.

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Shibazakura park, Ichikai-machi

By Jack A. Maruta - Last updated: 月曜日, 5月 17, 2010

We were so lucky having a beaufiful day when we visited to Shibazakura park.

moss phlox park in Ichikai citymoss phlox





ShibazakuraPhlox subulata (Moss Phlox, Moss Pink, Mountain Phlox) is a perennial creeper growing to a height of 6 inches and covering a 20 inch wide area. The small, five-petaled flowers bloom in rose, mauve, blue, white, or pink in late spring to early summer. (according to Wikipedia).

We were supposed to park our vehicle at Number 2 car park where located a bit far from the park.  Shuttle seriveces have been arranged by the organizer.  My car has got two stickers which indicating for paraplegic.  We have not been anticipated, but traffic controller asked us to go to Number 1 car park, next to the park.  Lucky us.


You don’t bring anything with you when you go to the place like this, always some food bars are ready to wait for you in Japan.  Of course you have to pay a little bit more money than ordinal place.

grilled sweet fish

Usually, you can find Yakisoba (Fried chinese noodles with tomato based sauce), Oknomiyaki or Takoyaki at the food bar.  Here in Tochigi, you can find grilled sweet fish most of the time.  Why don’t you try some?

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Fukuroda falls

By Jack A. Maruta - Last updated: 火曜日, 5月 11, 2010

fukuroda falls 3.Fukuroda falls are one of the three beautiful falls in Japan.  Kegon falls and Nachi falls are the others.

Fukuoroda falls are located in Daigo-cho, Ibaraki, cross the border off Tochigi where I live.  It took me around one and half hours to get there from my house.  New lookout has been introduced short while ago, people enjoy 44m elevator ride and could see the top part of the falls now.  However, it is said that the old lookout is better than new one in terms of their stringency.  Currently admission fee is 300 yen.

If you wish to see my motion picture, please click below.

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Koinobori~ Carp-shaped Streamers

By Jack A. Maruta - Last updated: 水曜日, 5月 5, 2010

baby carp streamersToday is the last day of Golden Week Holiday.  May the 5th is Children’s day and we often fly carp-shaped streamers outside our homes to represent strength and success.  We can also see a lot of carp streamers across the rivers in rural areas.

This is the shot when I went to Fukuroda falls in Ibaraki  just cross the border where I live.   On the way to the falls, we have to walk along Kuji river for a while, but it was a nice walk there.  We had to park our cars about 10 minutes walk distance from the entrance of the falls.  We saw a lot of carp flying in the sky on that day.

We were luckily back home without heavy traffic jam.  May be deities blessed us because we are doing well all the time!?

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