I am going to introduce “short Trip from Tokyo” which is a 2 days / 1 night excursion from Tokyo. The first series is Nakagawa Town in Tochigi Prefecture. You can get there from Shinjuku Station in about 3 hours. Tochigi prefecture is a prefecture located in the northern Kanto area known for Nikko, Toshogu and Kinugawa Onsen. It is also famous for strawberries, "Tochio Tome" from Tochigi is a famous brand in Japan. There are many people visiting for day trips because it is accessible only a few hours from Tokyo. However this time I would like to slowly take my time and feel the charm of Tochigi.
This time, we will visit Nakagawa Town in the northeastern part of Tochigi prefecture. As the name suggests, the Nakagawa river flows in the center of the town. You can appreciate art at your leisure at the three art museums, including museums with the theme of Utagawa Hiroshige. In addition, you can experience the charm of Japan in this small town of about 16 thousand population. This includes the small sandy area which has been dedicated "the most beautiful village in Japan" and the Bato hot springs lined with inns along the Nakagawa River .
About a 3 hours excursion from Tokyo
Depart JR Shinjuku station around 8 o'clock, change to the Shinkansen at Omiya station, then head north to Utsunomiya station. I changed to the JR Utsunomiya line and arrived at the nearest station, Shinya station around 10 o'clock. From here we got on the bus and rode it while watching the peaceful countryside view. About 1 hour later we finally arrived at "Bato Michi-no-eki" which is the base of sightseeing in Nakagawa Town (get off at "Takada" bus stop) is. You can arrange a taxi at the tourist office here. Let's start the museum tour.
Bato Hiroshige Museum of Art, Nakagawa Town
Bato Hiroshige Museum of Art, Nakagawa Town is exhibiting mainly works of Ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Hiroshige who lived in the Edo period. It was founded in 2000 to hold a collection of Mr. Fujio Aoki, a businessman from Tochigi prefecture. The design is based on Mr. Kengo Kuma, which is said to be his earliest masterpiece, a flat building using plenty of local timber. Many people come only to see this architecture in harmony with nature. Local wood is also used for interior decoration, and the wall which is covered with locally produced Japanese paper, creates a soft, calm atmosphere. You can leisurely enjoy Ukiyo-e work of Utagawa Hiroshige and Utagawa Kunihi in this atmosphere.
Iwumura Kazuo picture book hill art museum
Next I visited "Kazuo Iwamura Museum” which sat upon a small hill. It is an art museum opened in 1998 by Mr. Iwamura Kazuo, a picture book author who is known worldwide, He has such famous masterpieces as "14 Hikiko no Takeshi". The theme of the exhibit is original pictures and nature. From the terrace of the cafe in the hall, you can overlook the streets of Satoyama and Nakagawa Town which also served as the stage of Mr. Iwamura's picture books.
"Another Museum of Art" is a museum where the theme of the first alternative art in Japan was founded in 2001, it utilizes an old elementary school building that was shutdown. The exhibition is held centering on artworks of handicapped artists three times a year, supporting artistic activities of artists with handicaps while planning and managing various events and workshops. Other exhibitions are also sometimes held. Inside of the hall, there is an atmosphere of school built more than 100 years ago. It meshes well with the exhibited work.
Actually, there is a fourth museum in Nakagawa Town ...
In Koisago in the northeastern part of Nakagawa is the lush green satoyama, which is recognized as "the most beautiful village in Japan". Here, domestic and foreign students are invited to stay at the farmers' residence, they take ownership of rice paddies, hold trail running competitions, etc. They are displaying the beautiful villages charm in various ways. Among them, a unique approach, they provide artists with a part of satoyama as a place for presentation of creations. One of them is the artistic forest of Koisago Satoyama. They are displaying ten sculptures made using the tree of the forest as it is. In addition to this, various works are hidden in Satoyama, and that Satoyama itself is a museum. With the feel of the wind on your skin and the smell of vegetation, it could be called a visceral museum.
After enjoying various arts, relax in a hot spring while watching the sunset
Bato Onsen Town is a small spa town with 10 onsen inns along the Nakagawa River. It is called a sunset hot spring, and the sunset seen from this outdoor bath along the Nakagawa river is special. There are four inns where you can take a day trip, so please use it at sunset by all means. When using lodging, we recommend trying hot spring torafugu (Japanese pufferfish) which is also a specialty of Nakagawa Town. Hot spring torafugu is special in that the salt contained in the hot spring water enhances the sweet taste of the fish. As only some ryokan's offer it, if you are interested please check the home page of Nakagawa Town Tourist Association.
Nakagawa Town where you can experience the charm of Japan condensed
Besides these, Nakagawa is also known as a production center for Koisago-yaki in Nakagawa Town, and you can experience ceramics at Fujita pottery shop. Also, foods such as wild boar meat and sweetfish caught in the Nakagawa river, which are unique to the area. Why not get away from Tokyo a bit and go to Nakagawa town where various attractions of Japan are condensed?
Cooperation in coverage: Nakagawa Town Tourist Association
Short trip from Tokyo ~ Nakagawa Town, Tochigi Prefecture (Nakagawa city) ~: Image Gallery
Art work is scattered in the Kozun area
The sky and the beautiful blue Nakagawa River