The historic district in Tochigi-shi city 蔵の街 栃木and Ashikaga city 足利 are located in the southern part of Tochigi prefecture, approximately 90km away from Central Tokyo, a 2-hour travel by train. To reach there by train, Japan Railway East (JR East) and Tobu Railway offer train services are available. Tobu Railway Service is more convenient as they run trains between Tokyo and major tourist-spots in Tochigi, including Nikko, at reasonable fares compared to those of JR East. For transport between Tochigi and Ashikaga, JR Ryomo-sen Line is convenient.
The historic district in Tochigi-shi city 蔵の街 栃木
In Tochigi-shi city, there is an old town called Kurano-machi, formerly flourished as a wholesale town where storehouses are lined along a small river where busy commercial boats used to come and go. The town was also a post station on the way to Nikko from Tokyo and feudal lords (Samurai lords) passed through the town to visit Toshogu Temple in Nikko.
Walking from Tochigi Station (North Exit) for 15 minutes or so, you will reach the historic district.
Ohirasan-jinja Shrine 太平山神社
At the mountain area 5km away from the historic district, there is the Ohirasan-jinja, known as one of the best sight-seeing spots in Tochigi city, for flower viewing in spring, and leaf peeping in autumn. From Tochigi Station, a bus service is available to get there. Take a bus from Tochigi Station and get off at the bus stop Kokugakuin-mae 國學院前 (Approx.15-min ride), then, walk up the slope (steps) called Ajisaizaka あじさい坂, that would be a 20-min walk to the Ohirasan-jinja shrine.
Getting there from Tokyo
From Asakusa Station on the Tobu Railway
Take Tobu Skytree Line Kaisoku Express bound for Tobu Nikko 東武スカイツリーライン快速・東武日光行, and get off at Tochigi Station 栃木駅
(Travel time: 1 hour 15min. 970 Yen)
*Budget travelers should take Kaisoku Express. Note that extra fare is charged for Tokkyu Express "Kinu" or "Kegon".
Since travelers going to Nikko also take Kaisoku Express, it might be crowded especially in autumn.
Google Maps :Tourist Information Office at Tochigi Historic District
Time table of Nikko Line and Kinugawa Line
Limited Express, and Section Rapid trains
Related WebsitesKURANOMACHI- Tochigi City
Ohirasan-jinja (Japanese website)
Ashikaga is a city familiar for Japanese as they usually have learnt that the oldest school in Japan was Ashikaga School (足利学校 Ashikaga Gakko) in Ashikaga. Even they don’t know where Ashikaga city is, they must know about the school. Ashikaga School was open-to-everyone types of university, required no tuition and students were allowed to stay in school as long as they want to keep learning. The school is no longer operated, but available for visitors to go inside with admission fees (420 Yen/adult).
* Ashikaga Gakko Festival is held in Nov (15-16 and 21-24 of Nov. in 2014) The admission is free on the festival days.
Ashikaga is also the birthplace of Ashikaga family, the samurai family once governed Japan over 200 years, about 700 years ago. Behind of Ashikaga School, there is a historic temple Bannaji 鑁阿寺, related to the Ashikaga family. (Admission free)
Hiking Trails in Ashikaga
Though it is not very known, there are good hiking trails in the low mountains near Orihime-jinja 足利織姫神社, a lovely shrine founded 1300 years ago. Orihime-jinja is another must-see attraction in Ashikaga and the shrine is a starting point of hiking trails.
Ashikaga Hiking Map by Ashikaga City Tourist Association (Japanese Website)
Ashikaga School is reachable on foot from two stations, JR Ashikaga Station 足利駅(10-min walk) and Tobu Ashikagashi Station 足利市駅(15-min walk)
JR Ashikaga station is 5-stop away from JR Tochigi Station by JR Ryomo-sen Line bound for Takasaki. (Travel time 26min, 500 Yen)
From Central Tokyo
From Asakusa Station on the Tobu Railway, take Tobu Tokkyu Ryomo 東武特急りょうもう and get off at Ashikagashi Station 足利市駅 (Travel time 1hour 21 min. 2000 Yen)
Google Maps : Ashikaga School (Ashikaga Gakko)
JR Ryomo-sen Line
Ashikaga Flower Park
A large flower garden known for Japanese wisteria trees
Take JR Ryomo-sen Line and get \off at Tomita Station 富田駅. A 13 min walk from the station.
Ashikaga Station is next to Tomita Station, 4 stops away from Tochigi Stn by JR Ryomo-sen Line bound for Takasaki,
Sano tourist association (Japanese website)
Sano is known for Sano Ramen.
Sano station is 3-stop away from Tochigi Station on the JR Ryomo-sen Line bound for Takasaki.
Sano Premium Outlet Mall
From Sano station, a bus service is available. (Runs every one hour or so. 15-min ride)