On my recent work trip to Japan, I only ended up with one free day (without work) in Utsunomiya. I decided to venture out to try to find Hachimanyama Park since I had read about Utsunomiya Tower online. Leaving from my hotel close to the train station, it was supposed to be about a 30 minute walk but I decided to walk along the river for some scenic views along the way. The first thing I realized upon arrival was that this was not just a normal park. On the map at the entrance, I could see a go kart track, a suspended bridge, Utsunomiya Tower, and even a small zoo!
I ventured around without too much of a plan other than eventually reaching Utsunomiya Tower. The park in itself is beautiful with many different areas to hike around through. One area was called the cherry blossom viewing area which was still pretty even though the cherry blossoms weren’t in bloom in August. Another area near the tower is a small scenic pond with lots of fish inside!
Utsunomiya Tower is on the top of a hill and has a little store nearby to get food or a drink. I bought a drink to re-hydrate, having to mime my order since I don’t speak Japanese and took a seat on one of the many benches nearby. After my break I headed straight for the suspension bridge, one of the ends is right next to Utsunomiya tower. From the center of the bridge you can look out over Utsunomiya for views of the city from above. The other side of the bridge leads you to a giant children’s playground (and bathrooms if you need it!)
On my way out of the park I found the mini zoo. Unfortunately on the hot day most of the animals were sleeping in their shaded areas and hard to see but I did find the lemurs and a pony!
Leaving the Hachimanyama park on the south end, I wondered the streets and ran across the gate to what I later found out was Gamou Shrine. After walking through the gate and climbing all the steps I came across the purification stations, statues, strings of fortunes and the main buildings of the Shinto shrine. Back down the steps there is are stairs to a smaller wooded area which I found out to be the Mikurama Tomb, an ancient burial mound constructed in the early 6th century!
On my adventure to find a small park and see the Utsunomiya Tower, I discovered that there was so much more to the park itself and stumbled upon other hidden gems in this city!