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Itinerary from Tokyo
Off the Beaten Path - 001

Use this itinerary from Tokyo to visit four towns and cities north of Tokyo. Visit the Edo town of Tochigi and have an Edo-period lunch in Mibu. Then have Gyoza in the Gyoza capital of Japan, Utsunomiya and explore the city. Then try pottery making and sake tasting in Mashiko before heading back to Tokyo.

Depart from Tokyo

From Asakusa station in Tokyo, take the Tobu Limited express towards Tobu Nikko or Kinugawa Onsen. (There is usually a train every 30 min).

Get off at your first stop Tochigi which is 70 min from Asakusa.

Spacia from Asakusa Station (Itinerary from Tokyo)

Visit Tochigi city

From Asakusa station in Tokyo, take the Tobu Limited express towards Tobu Nikko or Kinugawa Onsen. (There is usually a train every 30 min).

Get off at your first stop Tochigi which is 70 min from Asakusa.

Gondola boat ride in Tochigi (Tochigi city visitor deals)
Time to spend in Tochigi: 3hours - 1 day

Visit Mibu

From Tochigi station, take the Tobu-Utsunomiya line towards Tobu-Utsunomiya and get off at Omochanomachi station. (The train takes 20 min and there is usually a train every 30 min).

If you are traveling with children, you should visit the Bandai Toy museum or the Mibumachi Toy Museum or go strawberry picking (Dec- May). 

For lunch, try the ‘Otonosama Ryori’, which is a set meal offered by several restaurants in the area. It is a delicious meal based on a discovered Edo period recipe for the local ruler of that time.

Cars in Bandai Museum in Mibu
Time to spend in Mibu: 2 -5hours

Visit Utsunomiya

From Omochanomachi station, take the Tobu-Utsunomiya line towards Tobu-Utsunomiya and get off at Tobu-Utsunomiya station(The train takes 20 min and there is usually a train every 30 min).

If you have traveled by train, you can walk around the city and go Gyoza hopping as there are 300 Gyoza restaurants in Utsunomiya. At night, there are many award-winning bars and venues that play live jazz music!

If you are traveling by car, you may want to visit the Oya district where you can visit old stone mines and the Wakayama Bamboo Forest.

Night walk in Wakayama Bamboo Forest nearby Tokyo
Time to spend in Utsunomiya: 3hours - 1day

Visit Mashiko

From Tobu-Utsunomiya station or JR Utsunomiya station (20 min walk from Tobu-Utsunomiya station), take the bus to Mashiko. (The bus takes 50-60 min and there is usually a train every 60 min).

If get off at Mashiko Kyohan center, you will be in the pottery area which has many pottery studios, museums, and cafes. If you get off at Mashiko station you can hire a bicycle and ride (or walk 20 min) to a sake brewery or go strawberry picking (10min walk from the brewery. Dec- May).

If you would like to make pottery, it is recommended that you book in advance.

Learning how to make Mashiko pottery in Furuki (Mashiko Pottery Travel Guide)
Time to spend in Mashiko: 6hours -2days

Make your way back to Tokyo

From Mashiko, there are several ways of getting back to Tokyo. If you have stayed the night in Mashiko on a Friday or Saturday, you may want to catch the steam train which departs from Mashiko station at 15:01 (See here for up-to-date timetable ).

You can also take the highway bus (bus company timetable) also from Mashiko station which takes you to Akihabara station in Tokyo. Or you can take the train via Shimodate station and Oyama station to catch the Shinkansen (bullet train) back to Tokyo.

Suggested itinerary from Tokyo & final Thoughts...​

I hope you enjoyed reading this off-the-beaten-path itinerary. If you are interested in pottery making, or fond of Gyoza, then this itinerary great is for you! 

See below for a detailed itinerary from Tokyo. Hop on the train (or take a road trip) to these destinations north of Tokyo!

– Leave Asakusa station (Tokyo) – DAY 1     *Friday

  •   8:00 Asakusa station (Limited express Spacia) – 9:08 Tochigi station
  •  

-Leave Tochigi station – DAY 1     *Friday

  •   12:41 Tochigi station – 13:07 Omochanomachi station
  •  

-Leave Omochanomachi station – DAY 1     *Friday

  •   16:04 Omochanomachi station – 16:21 Tobu-Utsunomiya station
  •  

-Leave JR Utsunomiya statin (bus) – DAY 2     *Saturday

  •   12:28 Utsunomiya station East bus stop – 13:17 Toguei Messe Iriguchi bus stop 
  •  

-Leave Mashiko (Steam Engine) – DAY 3     *Sunday

  •   15:01 Mashiko station (Steam engine)  – 15:56 Shimodate station
  •   16:32 Shimodate station  – 16:57 Oyama station
  •   17:33 Oyama station (Shinkansen)  – 18:10 Ueno station
  •  

*When arriving at Shimodate, you can change to an earlier train if you sit in the front of the steam train and run over to catch the 15:59 train towards Oyama (changing time is only 2 min so you need to rush!). If not, you can enjoy taking photos of the steam engine and catch the train at 16:32.

*Times were correct at 22nd April 2021, to check times please use  3rd party websites such as Japan transit Planner (external) or  HiperDia (external).

This itinerary is ideally for 2nights and 3 days (a night in Utsunomiya and Mashiko), but it can be done in less time. This trip is easy to do by public transportation as well as driving (rent-a-car). 

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