Exploring The Tochigi Prefecture: Ashikaga Flower Park, Nikko, and More

It is undeniable that the Japanese community has a deep appreciation for all things naturally beautiful. The country is home to numerous places that effortlessly take one’s breath away. One of the sure-fire prefectures a tourist can go to for only the best scenic landscapes is the Tochigi Prefecture, where a massive flower park known as the Ashikaga Flower Park can be found, alongside other equally satisfying destinations.

An Overview of the Ashikaga Flower Park in Ashikaga, Tochigi, Japan


Hiroaki Kaneko [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


The Ashikaga Flower Park is comprised of approximately nine hectares of land, most of which is filled with fuji (wisteria). It stands as the most popular tourist attraction in the city of Ashikaga. Tourists can expect to see a lot of pink, white, and blue fuji in the area, along with other equally beautiful flowers.

Unlike other flower parks, the Ashikaga Flower Park offers visitors with a unique way to appreciate nature by offering long tunnels made of fuji, a massive illumination display during the winter, and eight floral seasons throughout the year.

The Winter Illumination Display of the Ashikaga Flower Park

From December to February, the Ashikaga Flower Park welcomes visitors into their vicinity every evening to tour their elaborate exhibit.

The winter illumination display has nearly every section of the complex covered in multicolored LED lights. All walkways, flower bushes, and tunnels of the park feature countless lights that make the whole place look like a whole other world.

There is also a section at the park that features LED string lights that resemble fuji. As if that was not enough of a sight to see, the Ashikaga Flower Park also makes sure to use music-synchronized lights to offer visitors with breathtaking shows that will not soon be forgotten.

The Heralding Spring at the Ashikaga Flower Park (January – February)

The Heralding Spring is referred to as the first chapter of the eight floral seasons of the Ashikaga Flower Park. It runs from early January to late February and offers visitors with stunning yellow and pink blooms.

The flowers that make up the display include Winter Clematis, Christmas Rose, and Pheasant’s Eye.

The Spring Flower Festival at the Ashikaga Flower Park (March – April)

The Spring Flower Festival follows the Heralding Spring and starts in early March. Tulips, Thunberg’s Meadowsweet, and Crocus are some of the flowers that serve as the main attractions of the exhibition, which runs until mid-April.

In line with the spring season, vivid shades of yellow and pink can be expected, alongside white blooms.

The Wisteria Story at the Ashikaga Flower Park (April – May)

The Wisteria Story is held from mid-April to Mid-May. As implied, the main flower of the chapter is the Japanese Wisteria, which looks even more lovely when combined with Peonies and Japanese Azaleas. During this season, the Ashikaga Flower Park is covered in different shades of pink and purple.

The Rainbow Garden at the Ashikaga Flower Park (May – June) 

The Rainbow Garden consists of Clematis, Rhododendron, and Rose flowers. It is the 4th chapter of the eight floral seasons of the Ashikaga Flower Park and goes on from Mid-May to early June. Visitors can expect to see a wide range of blooms that come in yellow, purple, and pink colors.

The Summer Blue & White Garden at the Ashikaga Flower Park (June – July)

The Blue & White Garden of the Ashikaga Flower Park serves as its 5th and summer chapter that starts in early June and ends in early July. Blue, purple, pink, and white colors fill the park through the use of Late Blooming Clematis, Hydrangea, and Iris flowers.

The Water Nymphs / Water Lilies at the Ashikaga Flower Park (July – September)

The Water Nymphs or Water Lilies take center stage from early July to late September at the Ashikaga Flower Park. Tropical Water Lilies and Lantanas can be expected by visitors.

The Purple Garden at the Ashikaga Flower Park (October – November)

The Purple Garden makes use of Pansies, Mexican Bush Sages, and Amethyst Sages to cover the entire park in different shades of purple from early October to late November. It serves as the 7th chapter of the eight seasons and is among the most popular chapters that attract hundreds and thousands of visitors.

The Bejeweled Flower Garden at the Ashikaga Flower Park (October – January)

By Takashi Hososhima from Tokyo, Japan (Light Decoration in Ashikaga Flower Park) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Bejeweled Flower Garden runs from the end of October to late January and overlaps with the Winter Illumination Display. As such, the 8th and final chapter of the seasonal shows of the Ashikaga Flower Park consists of festive illuminations that make use of Violas and Pansies.

Basic Tour Information about the Ashikaga Flower Park – Access from Tokyo, Admission Fees, Etc.

The Ashikaga Flower Park can be reached from Tokyo by taking the JR Tohoku Shinkansen, JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line, or JR Utsunomiya Line. Tourists can get off at the Tomita Station and take a short walk towards the park.

It usually takes a little over an hour to reach the station through the shinkansen, which costs 4,000 yen per person, one-way. For those who will be taking one of the regular trains, the expected travel time is about two hours. Although the journey may be significantly longer, the price for a one-way ride only costs 2,000 yen per person.

Alternatively, tourists can also choose to reach the Ashikagashi Station by taking the Tobu Isesaki Line. From the Tobu Asakusa Station, the one-way train ride takes seventy minutes and costs about 2,000 yen per person.

From the Ashikagashi Station, shuttle buses that go directly to the Ashikaga Flower Park are available. However, it should be noted that these buses do not operate during the winter season and on several weekdays.

Hours: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM, from March to November; 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, from November to February; 3:30 to 9:00, from December to February (Winter Illumination Display)

Admission Fee: 300 – 1,700 per person

Address: 607 Hasamacho, Ashikaga, Tochigi Prefecture 329-4216

Other Places to Visit in the Tochigi Prefecture


The city of Nikko is considered to be one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Tochigi Prefecture because of the many attractions it has to offer.

During ancient times, Nikko served as the center for mountain worship, for both Shinto and Buddhism. As such, the city houses some of the most breathtaking landscapes of Japan, as well as several notable temples and shrines.

The area is particularly stunning during the autumn season when it comes alive with koyo (autumn colors). These colors usually start to show during the start of October and completely cover the city by mid-November.

Some of the must-visit places tourists should take note of include:

  • Toshogu Shrine

The Toshogu Shrine is a lavish shrine complex that houses over twelve stunning structures, all set within a lush forest. It serves as Tokugawa Ieyasu’s final resting place.

Hours: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM, daily

Admission Fee: 1,300 yen per person (for shrine); 1,000 yen per person (for museum); 2,100 per person (for both)

Address: 2301 Sannai, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1431

  • Taiyuinbyo

The Taiyuinbyo or the Iemitsu Mausoleum is another lavish place that closely resembles the Toshogu Shrine. Similarly, the complex also houses a mix of Shinto and Buddhist buildings.

Hours: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM, daily

Admission Fee: 550 yen per person

Address: Sannai, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1431

  • Rinnoji Temple

The Rinnoji Temple is considered to be the most significant temple of Nikko. It was established by Shodo Shonin who was also responsible for introducing the city of Nikko to the teachings and practices of Buddhism.

Hours: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM, daily

Admission Fee: 400 yen per person

Address: 2300 Sannai, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1431

  • Tamozawa Imperial Villa

The Tamozawa Imperial Villa or Tamozawa Goyotei offers visitors a pleasant blend of architectural styles from the Edo and Meiji Periods through its 106 rooms. It served as a retreat and summer house of the Imperial Family during the feudal era.

Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, from Wednesday to Monday (April – October); 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM, from Wednesday to Monday (November – March)

Admission Fee: 510 yen per person

Address: 8-27 Honcho, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1434

  • Kanmangafuchi Abyss

The Kanmangafuchi Abyss is a gorge that was formed when Mount Nantai erupted. It measures a few hundred meters in length and can be appreciated through a nearby route through the forests.

Address: Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1415

  • Futarasan Shrine

The Futarasan Shrine can be located right next to the Toshogu Shrine. Compared to the latter, the Futarasan Shrine was established a few centuries earlier during the year 782. Just like the Rinnoji Temple, this shrine was also founded by Shodo Shonin.

Hours: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM, daily

Admission Fee: 200 yen per person

Address: 2307 Sannai, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1431

  • Nikko Botanical Garden

The Nikko Botanical Garden or Nikko Shokubutsuen falls under the ownership and maintenance of the University of Tokyo. It was established in 1902 and also serves as the research garden of the university.

Hours: 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM, from Tuesday to Sunday (April 15 – January 31)

Admission Fee: 400 yen per person

Address: 1842 Hanaishicho, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1435

  • Shinkyo Bridge

The Shinkyo Bridge is part of the vicinity of the Futarasan Shrine. It is one of the three finest national bridges of Japan, alongside the Kintaikyo and the Saruhashi in the Yamanashi Prefecture.

Hours: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM, daily (April – September); 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM, daily (October – mid-November); 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM, daily (mid-November – March)

Admission Fee: 300 yen per person

Address: 2307 Sannai, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1431

  • Hangetsuyama

The Hangetsuyama consists of several hiking trails that all lead up to the top of the mountain where tourists can find an observation deck that offers breathtaking views of Lake Chuzenji.

Address: Chugushi, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1661

  • Lake Chuzenji

Lake Chuzenji or Chuzenjiko is a stunning lake situated at the base of Mount Nantai. The circumference of the lake is measured at 25 kilometers and can be explored through several walking trails that go around Lake Chuzenji.

Address: Chugushi, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1661

  • Yumoto Onsen

The Yumoto Onsen, which literally translates to mean the Origin of Hot Water in English, is a small town situated at the back of Okunikko, the mountainous area of Nikko. It houses several ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) and hot spring bath houses.

The town even has a Buddhist Temple known as Onsenji that offers a public hot spring bath right within its temple grounds.

Address: Yumoto, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1662

  • Senjogahara Marshland

The Senjogahara Marshland covers the area between the Yumoto Onsen and Lake Chuzenji. The 1,400-meter high plateau offers several hiking trails considered to be among the best ones in Nikko.

Tourists are advised to visit the place during the month of October when it is covered in lovely autumn colors.

Address: Chugushi, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1661

  • Akechidaira Plateau

The Akechidaira Plateau offers its visitors with an observation site where the winding interchange roads and valley of Irohazaka can be seen. There is also a souvenir shop, rest house, parking lot, and cafeteria at the plateau.

Another observation deck can be reached further up the summit by taking a three-minute ride on the Akechidaira Ropeway.

Hours (Akechidaira Ropeway): 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM, daily

Admission Fee (Akechidaira Ropeway): 400 yen per person (one-way); 730 yen per person (roundtrip)

Address: Hosoo Fukazawa, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1445

  • Ryuzu Waterfall

The Ryuzu Waterfall or Ryuzu no Taki is surrounded by a lush forest that looks particularly stunning during the autumn season. Its name literally means the dragon head waterfall, which perfectly describes what tourists can expect to see.

Address: Chugushi, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1661

  • Kegon Waterfall

The Kegon Waterfall measures 100 meters in height. It is considered to be the popular waterfall of Nikko and is one of the three most incredible waterfalls of Japan.

Address: 2479-2 Chugushi, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1661

  • Chuzenji Temple

The Chuzenji Temple is aptly named after its location on the eastern part of Lake Chuzenjiko. The main attraction of the temple is a massive statue of Kannon that measures a total of six meters in height.

Hours: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM, daily (April – October); 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM, daily (March – November); 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM, daily (December – February)

Admission Fee: 500 yen per person

Address: 2578 Chugushi, Nikko,  Tochigi Prefecture 321-1661

  • Irohazaka

The Irohazaka consists of a couple of winding roads that connect Nikko and Okunikko with each other.

Address: Chugushi, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1661


The Nasu-Shiobara refers to the land surrounding an active volcano known as Mount Nasudake. It houses a number of hot springs that are situated on the slopes of the volcano. Other than relaxing the day away, tourists also visit the area to enjoy some natural scenery and to go on hikes that lead to beautiful waterfalls.

The two most popular hot springs of Nasu-Shiobara are:

  • Nasu Onsen

The Nasu Onsen is a large hot spring resort that includes the Yumoto Onsen. Since the Nara Period, locals have been coming to bathe in the resort’s hot springs as a means to gain numerous health benefits from their restorative properties.

Some notable public baths within the resort include the Shika no Yu, the Omaru Onsen Ryokan, and the Yuyu Tengoku. The place also houses many other interesting attractions that offer visitors a pleasant experience of the Tochigi Prefecture’s natural beauty.

  • Shiobara Onsen

The Shiobara Onsen is located south of Mount Nasudake, about twenty kilometers away. It is a hot spring town that is a bit more developed compared to the Yumoto Onsen in terms of its hotel booking options.

Nonetheless, visitors can still expect to experience a rustic ambiance given the stunning mountains and forests that surround the town.

Similar to the Nasu Onsen, the Shiobara Onsen also houses several public baths such as the Iwa no Yu, Fudo no Yu, and Yuppo no Sato.

Kinugawa Onsen

The Kinugawa Onsen is another hot spring resort in the Tochigi Prefecture and stands as the most popular one. It is situated near the Kinugawa River and offers plenty of tourist attractions for any and every kind of visitor to enjoy such as the Okukinu Onsen, Nikko Edomura, Tobu World Square, Grand Maze, and Yunishigawa Onsen.