Nasu Animal Kingdom, a zoo where you can feed the animals; Oya History Museum, an underground secret base now open to the public; and Tobu World Square, an amusement park that feautes 1/25 scale landmarks from around the world, are all here in Tochigi. So if you are looking for a day trip with a difference, then these three attractions are certain to entertain you on your trip to Japan:
Tobu World Square
(image by flickr.com)
Located next to Nikko Kinugawa Onsen. The models within Tobu World Square are 1/25 scale, but you will be surprised at how exceptionally big they actually are. For instance, there is the 634m Tokyo Sky Tree whose model measures 25.36m which is the equivalent of a 7-story building. Being able to see buildings from overhead, you will end up gazing at these structures in detail from various angles such as Kyoto’s Kiyomizu-dera Temple which can’t actually be seen from the left.
There are 140,000 residents within the park that are only 7cm high. Intricately and individually created down to the last detail, there are even famous people scattered all around. “Roman Holiday” is being filmed at the Duomi di Milano, and the Buddhist monk Xuanzang can be found at the Great Wall of China. Also, you can come across Batman and Marilyn Monroe and other unique characters. One way to enjoy your time is walking through the square and searching for those famous folks among the buildings which could almost be forgotten for the real thing.
The opening times are extended annually between November and March, and about 1.4 million red and blue lights gorgeously illuminate the grounds. Beginning with Tokyo Sky Tree, buildings such as the Eiffel Tower and the Duomi di Milano and the surrounding area are wondrously lit up with LEDs and spotlights. The 100m leading up to Alpine Roses Park continues the wonder with a light tunnel. You can also enjoy the performance of a variety of lights for the fall foliage and the snowscapes of winter.
Admission: Adult: ¥ 2,500 / Child: ¥ 1,200
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Tobu World Square
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Tobu World Square
- Tours of Tobu World Square
Oya History Museum
(image by flickr.com)
This area of amassed rock was called Oya Rock and was used to help in the building of the Imperial Hotel. The large-scale endeavor of continuous excavation that has gone on for decades has very few similar examples in the world. The underground excavation that is open to the public took a little under 70 years to complete, from 1919 to 1986 with the area going down 30 meters and covering a huge underground space of 20000㎡. During the war, it was used as an underground secret base and after the war, it was a storehouse. As you head down the long stairs of Oya Rock and reach the quarry, a spectacle will spread out in front of your eyes that is a wondrous space that cannot be imagined in Japan. Within the dim quarry, there is flickering light and red and blue illumination effectively placed everywhere which feels as if you’ve ended up in some movie. The walls have marks from pickaxes when they were used during the days of manual digging, so you can feel the gravity of history. The average temperature of the underground cavern is 8 degrees. A cool environment is maintained so the museum is great to visit during the heat of summer. Also, the space is used for a wide variety of events such as concerts, art exhibitions, performance stages and studios. Although it isn’t open very often, there is also a church provided so weddings can be held.
There is a bus which runs from Utsunomiya Station to the museum, but if you can spare the time, you will want to get off at Oya Hashi Bus Stop and take a walk around. There are many sights to see such as the 27m-high hand-carved Peace Kannon, the nationally-designated Important Cultural Property of the Thousand-Armed Kannon at Oya-ji Temple, and the especially beautiful rock walls along the river at Oya Keikan Park.
Admission: Adult: ¥ 700 / Child: ¥ 350
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Oya History Museum
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Oya History Museum
- Tours of Oya History Museum
Nasu Animal Kingdom
(image by commons.wikimedia.org)
Just 2 hours away from Tokyo by car. There is a free shuttle bus service from Nasu-Shiobara Station if you are coming by train so you can still enjoy the zoo even on a day trip. The huge 43ha grounds are divided into the Kingdom Town and the Kingdom Farm. Kingdom Town is an indoor facility that centers on the many animals that you can encounter. At Capybara Forest, more than 20 capybaras run around freely which you can feed and interact with. At the Bamboo Forest Lesser House, where the cutest lesser pandas live, you can feed apples to the pandas. This is also a very popular place. Then, there is Kingdom Farm which spreads out through the grand nature of Nasu. The most popular part of the farm is the Bird Performance Show. The flight and hunting poses of birds of prey such as eagles and owls can be seen, among which is the spectacular and large Bald Eagle with a wingspan of 2 meters. Also, within this magnificent scenery, you can encounter alpacas, horses and sheep, and even experience horseback riding.
There is an onsen, Nasu Gohou-no-Yu, within the grounds which is just half-price for zoo visitors. In the winter, there is the adjacent ski resort, Mount Jeans Ski Resort Nasu with nap rooms so that you can enjoy skiing and the zoo over the day. In addition, in 2014, the Penguin Village was re-opened. It has Japan’s only display of puffins which have a cuteness to rival that of penguins. You can also feed the penguins and the eared seals. Since it is hard to cover the whole zoo in one day, check the time schedule beforehand and map out your tour efficiently.
Admission: Adult: ¥ 2,000 / Child: ¥ 1,000
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Nasu Animal Kingdom
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Nasu Animal Kingdom
- Tours of Nasu Animal Kingdom