The Nikko Tosho-gu is the main shrine in the Nikko National Park, and is the official resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Shogun of the Edo era. It is considered a sacred place, and has over a dozen buildings each with its own elaborate carvings and gold leaf plating. The famous three silent monkeys are also carved here, as well as carvings of imaginary elephants that the artist had never seen. The shrine holds both Shinto and Buddhist elements, and is overall a very beautiful experience that must be enjoyed if you are in the Nikko area.
Nikko National Park
A Visit to Nikko National Park is also great for a one or two day trip away from the metropolitan area. If you love nature, you should definitely visit the Okunikko area, especially during Autumn. The autumn colors light up the mountainside and you can also enjoy the Yumoto Onsen while overlooking Yunoko Lake. The Kegon Waterfall is a popular attraction in Nikko, located in Lake Chuzenji. There are hiking trails as well, and is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life for a while.
What better way to enjoy a prefecture than eat what it has to offer? Utsunomiya is known for being the Gyoza, or fried dumpling capital. There are more than 200 gyoza restaurants in the capital alone, and each restaurant has its own special ingredients and ways of preparing it, making each dish memorable. The leading theory behind the popularity comes from Japanese soldiers returning from China after the second world war, and bringing dumplings with them. Gyoza is so important to Utsunomiya, that they have a statue of a dumpling outside the Utsunomiya station, and an annual gyoza festival held at the castle ruins park.
Ashikaga Flower Park
The Ashikaga Flower Park is the best place to view Fuji Flowers. Not to be mistaken for the mountain, Fuji flowers are also known as wisteria, and are flowers that hang from a tree like strings of colorful bells. Each spring at the beginning of May, the flower park blooms in beautiful carpets that hang across the top of support beams. There are also individual wisteria trees that bloom naturally, but seeing these vast stretches of flowers above your head is truly a sight to remember. In addition, during the winter there are illuminations that mimic the wisteria flowers that are especially eye-catching.