Andrew’s world in Japan 2019/March

Artist & researcher based in KL since 2009, passionately exploring the creative process & connecting with other creative people.

Explore a Town Famous for Gyoza and Jazz ① – Getting to Utsunomiya

Standing close to anything, looking deeply into the details makes distinghishing the bark from the tree difficult. It is all connected though. Listen for a spell. Sounds string together to make a song that affects our emotions. Colors, textures and light deeply influence us. Spend too much time in a dark grey noisy crowded city and you begin to feel tired and lethargic. Could the loosely stringing together of these influences over the infinite time stream be what weaves our histories together? If you have had enough of your current routine or just want a trip out of the megalopolis, Tochigi prefecture’s captial, Utsunomiya offers an opportunity to shake up your senses.
Professional researchers have found considerable evidence that shows this area as being continuously inhabited since the Japanese Paleolithic period. More recently, this city developed around Futarayama Shrine founded around 353 AD. Today the name still remains from the times when the offshoot of the Fujiwara Clan, Utsunomiya daimyō clans, were in charge of running the area. The area has been fortunate to have access to many benefits that continue to this day. Most famous for gyoza, other attractions not to miss are the historic sites, shrines, castle and one of the highest regarded Jazz scenes. Is a day trip really enough? Of course it would be much better to make a weekend of your visit.

So first thing first, getting there. Whether you want to opt for the fastest, and obviously most expensive method, or the slowest (I imagine walking, although cheap, may take up more hours than most people have available for holiday leave), it is not difficult to make your way. Trains are frequent from Tokyo and only require a few hours of travel time. Tohoku Shinkansen is about 2 ½ hours for ¥7800, and other lines cost less but take longer. If you happen to be holding the Japan Rail Pass, you are in luck, many of the lines are included in this service. Alternatively, some people are seeking more freedom to explore and renting a car or riding a bicycle are great options.

Depending on if you plan to just make a day of it or a weekend, what you may wish to see and do is flexible.