Tochigi, Rich Nature in Nikko and Nasu, Sustainability in Utsunomiya

Tochigi, Rich Nature in Nikko and Nasu, Sustainability in Utsunomiya
4 Days 3 Nights

Tochigi Prefecture is close to Tokyo and can be reached in only one hour by Shinkansen bullet train. The two Tochigi destinations for this tour are known for their nature. Nikko is home to numerous historic buildings and Nasu has long been celebrated as a luxury resort. At Utsunomiya, the prefectural capital, visit two places of sustainability.

The abundant nature of Tochigi Prefecture allows for all kinds of experiences with spectacular views as backdrops. Observe nature up close while enjoying activities such as cycling, hiking and kayaking.

The pure water and clean air of Tochigi means lots of delicious meat, vegetables, fruit and sake in a prefecture that is fastidious about its food and ingredients.

Experience Japanese hot spring culture in Nasu or immerse yourself in the nature of Nikko at the Ritz-Carlton, Nikko, a luxury hotel on the shores of the beautiful Lake Chuzenji. The interiors of the guestrooms elegantly marry Japanese and Western sensibilities.

Nikko is home to the 17th-century Nikko Toshogu Shrine, a magnificent World Heritage Site and said to be one of the country’s most sacred places. As Japan modernized and westernized in the 19th century, Nikko and Nasu became hugely popular among the Japanese royalty, the aristocracy and foreign diplomats, creating the resorts that they are today and leaving an indelible footprint of history.

Japan Map


  • Stay in Nikko and Nasu, two Tochigi areas where nature thrives
  • In Nasu, enjoy cycling and other activities in the foothills of the volcano that created this beautiful landscape, relish cuisine created with local ingredients by up-and-coming chefs and experience hot spring culture
  • In Nikko, observe sacred Shinto rituals at the Nikko Toshogu shrine, a World Heritage Site, and follow in the footsteps of past Imperial family members and foreign diplomats, for whom the area was a popular place to escape city life
  • Stay two nights at the Ritz-Carlton, Nikko, a luxury hotel on the shores of Lake Chuzenji, and discover the nature of Oku-Nikko
  • Descend into the vast cavern created over many years by quarrymen at the Oya stone quarry in Utsunomiya and visit a beautiful bamboo grove that has been preserved for over 350 years to gain a better understanding of human activity here over the centuries.


Day 1


Leave your Tokyo hotel in the morning for Tokyo Station.

Board the Shinkansen bullet train and head to the outdoor paradise of Nasu, one and a half hours away. Upon arrival, board the Nasu Ropeway and travel through the sky to Mount Chausu. Take in the majestic beauty of the volcano that created the Nasu landscape and the spectacular panorama of the Kanto Plain below. For experienced hikers, the hike to the summit, the highest peak in the Nasu mountain range, takes about one and a half hours.

After descending, drop by Restaurant Myu for lunch. Enjoy the tastes of the locale in dishes concocted by young and dynamic chefs. Highly recommended is a stroll through the adjacent Water Garden, an elaborate creation combining speculative and modern garden elements.

The Nasu resort area was originally developed as a country retreat for the Japanese Imperial family and nobles. Today it is one of Tochigi Prefecture’s top destinations, acclaimed for its spectacular natural scenery and numerous hot springs.

Spend the afternoon cycling in the Nasu foothills. Bike along secluded paths across a plateau lush with nature. Along the way, pass through villages dotted with old kominka houses and experience the living history of the area. Stop at popular bakeries and confectioners that are off the beaten track.

There are several accommodation options in Nasu. For outdoor enthusiasts, Risonare Nasu is recommended, while for an authentic ryokan (traditional inn) experience, the best choice is either Sansuikaku or Sanraku. For a ryokan that exquisitely marries Japanese and Western sensibilities, there is probably no better place than Bettei Kai. All these accommodations offer a range of hot springs.

Day 2


Leave Nasu in the morning for Nikko.

Nikko is an extraordinary place, even for Japan, where history, culture and nature exist in harmony.

Visit the Nikko Toshogu shrine, a World Heritage Site, accompanied by a Shinto priest and miko (shrine maiden). With its brightly colored Yomeimon gate and ornate sculptures of animals and divine creatures, the shrine is a remarkable center of worship and a Nikko icon. After touring the shrine grounds, enter the Kitoden prayer hall, designated as a national treasure, to observe a Shinto ritual.

After lunch at a Nikko city restaurant head to Nikko Tamozawa Imperial Villa Memorial Park. The Imperial villa, which was used by the Imperial family more than a century ago, shows clearly how Nikko was prized by the Japanese elite of the time. Many of the buildings that remain on the large site have gone through structural alterations starting from about 120 years ago up until about 25 years. The various architectural styles depict the end of the samurai era through Japan's period of modernization and Western influence.

From Nikko leave for Lake Chuzenji in Oku-Nikko. Along the way stop to admire the magnificent Kegon Falls, which tumbles down 97 meters and is one of Japan's three major waterfalls.

Stay two nights at the Ritz-Carlton, Nikko, a luxury hotel that opened in July 2020. Enjoy both the visual and gastronomic delights of Tochigi with cuisine that contains ample local ingredients and is served on tableware made using traditional Tochigi crafts such as Mashiko pottery and Nikko woodcarving.

Day 3


The Ritz-Carlton Nikko's Oku-Nikko area is located in Nikko National Park, a place of exquisite natural beauty.

With a circumference of 25 kilometers and located 1,269 meters above sea level, Lake Chuzenji is the highest lake of its size in Japan. The lake and surrounding landscape were created by an eruption from Mount Nantai, a magnificent sacred mountain. Here there are a number of outdoor activities centered on the nature of Oku-Nikko and the iconic lake and mountain. These include exhilaratingly e-biking along mountain paths, hiking in Senjogahara a protected marshland registered by the Convention on Wetlands, and standup paddleboarding (SUP) and kayaking on Lake Chuzenji. Please talk with your consultant about the options available.

British diplomat Ernest Mason Satow, who arrived in Japan in 1862, was fascinated by the Oku-Nikko scenery and introduced the area to the world through a guidebook he wrote. There was no concept of vacations or resorts in Japan at the time. Oku-Nikko began as a summer resort for foreigners. As European embassies built villas here between the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th century, it became a gathering place for foreign dignitaries. The British and Italian Embassy Villa Memorial Parks on the shores of Lake Chuzenji are eloquent reminders of the origins of Oku-Nikko. Be sure to visit them to see how foreign diplomats once holidayed.

Day 4


Leave Oku-Nikko in the morning under the gaze of Mt. Nantai.

The first stop is at a sake brewery that takes advantage of the pure water of Nikko to make delicious sake. After visiting the brewery, head to Utsunomiya, the prefecture’s capital city.

As a region blessed with an abundant water supply and high-quality sake rice, Tochigi Prefecture is one of Japan’s largest sake producers. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant that pairs fine food with sakes from four different breweries.

In Utsunomiya visit two locations where efforts are being made to pass on culture and heritage to the next generation.

Oyamachi, some nine kilometers from the city center, is known for its strong but easily processed high-quality stone. The stone quarried here was not only used in Utsunomiya but was also shipped to Tokyo and Yokohama in large amounts, where it was used to build churches, public buildings, the mansions of the wealthy and the walls of private homes. It is seen as the cornerstone of the construction and modernization of Japan’s cities. The former Imperial Hotel, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, was made almost entirely of Oya stone and helped popularize it. In the 1960s, with the widespread use of concrete, the stone industry fell into decline and Oyamachi became a forgotten place. Today parts of the quarry can be visited thanks to the efforts of the local community. Much of the quarry is underground, which makes the experience of entering it feel like stepping into a cavernous subterranean palace. Surprisingly, all the stone was cut out by hand until machines were introduced in the 1960s. As you descend into the nebulous, chilly depths of this vast space try to imagine the hardships of the quarryman who worked here for so many years.

The last stop on this discovery of Tochigi Prefecture is Wakatake no Mori, a 24-hectare bamboo grove owned and run by Wakayama Farm, which has been growing bamboo and chestnuts here for some 350 years. Bamboo was once used throughout Japan and well-maintained bamboo groves exist today. However, with the fall in demand for bamboo products, such groves are becoming less and less common. To better understand the importance of preserving this age-old custom, spend a peaceful moment here sipping on matcha tea from a bamboo bowl while admiring the grandeur of this grove.

In the evening leave from Utsunomiya Station and return to Tokyo by Shinkansen.

What's Included

  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
  • Dinner at Ryokan
  • 1st class Train Tickets
  • 24/7 Emergency Support
  • Admission Fees
  • Guides / Assistants
  • Private Vehicle
  • Voucher
  • Luggage Transfer

What's Not Included

  • Accommodations
  • International Flights