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Tochigi Prefecture

Tochigi Prefecture

Tochigi Prefecture is located in the center of Honshu the main island of Japan and is known for its historical sites in Nikko.

Tochigi Prefecture (栃木県, Tochigi Ken) is mostly a rural area that is not too far from Tokyo. It is a prefecture surrounded by mountains on the north, east, and west side. The southern part is mostly made up of Kanto Plains. When the domain was established the Shimotsuke Yakushi Temple was built and was made the Buddhist capital in the Kanto Region. Outbreaks of civil war between the Minamoto and Taira Clans ended the rule of aristocrats in the Shogunate, which ushered in a warrior state era. In the early 17th century Tokugawa Ieyasu unified Japan brought in an era of peace called the Edo Period. When Ieyasu passed away a mausoleum was built in 1617. The structure was built in Nikko because it was considered holy ground.

Toshogu shrine was established on those holy grounds and the Nikko Kaido, a highway road, was developed to provide people better access to the mausoleum from Edo, present day Tokyo. This allowed patrons the opportunity to pay their respects to the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate. After the Tokugawa Shogunate fell the locals rallied together to protect the grounds from the Meiji Government. The Meiji Restoration wanted to separate Buddhism from Shinto by destroy buildings that combined both. Nikko was on the list and it was mostly saved by the protests of the people. Through those efforts the shrines and temples of Nikko are now listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nikko is also a popular place to go to in the autumn season when the trees are covered with fall color leaves.

When the Han system was abolished, the prefectural program was replaced the old feudal system in 1871. It was at this time Tochigi Prefecture was created and a couple of years later were merged with Utsunomiya Prefecture. Utsunomiya is known for being the town of gyoza since it is one of the specialties of the city. Tochigi is known as the leader in production for strawberries and Japanese pears. The quality of the fruit produced in Tochigi Prefecture is so high that the items are sold nationwide as well as exported to other countries. There is an onsen (hot spring) paradise in the prefecture. There are about 630 hot springs in the prefecture with their own sources. The hot spring towns Kinugawa, Shiobara, and Nasu attract more visitors than the other ones in Japan. It is an area closest to Tokyo that visitors can experience an open air bath with snow in the surrounding foliage.