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Ken Matsuoka's Tips: Utsunomiya City, Tochigi Pref., Japan

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since September 29 1999 


Welcome to Utsunomiya City

Utsunomiya LRT Google Map


Utsunomiya is located 100 km to the north of Tokyo, and is now a base of
Japan's top manufacturers such as Canon, Honda, Nissan, Matsushita
Sharp, Aiwa, and Kirin Beer, and US companies such as DuPont and MEMC.  


Utsunomiya is accessible from Tokyo by the Shinkansen, or the Bullet Train, 
in 60 minutes.  It is also connected with Narita Airport by bus in about 3 hours.  
The bus stop location at Narita Airport Terminal One is #6.
At Terminal Two, the bus stop is #9.  
Airlines at which terminal?  Here is the terminal guide on the web site of Narita Airport.
The bus timetable is shown on the travel section of the telephone directory

Well, after arriving at Utsunomiya Station, there is an information desk you can contact to find 
the way to your final destination.  

What's New 1 :  The hotly contested race for the new governor of Tochigi Prefecture ended
on the election day Sunday, November 28, 2004, when the finalized vote count was announced at midnight.
The winner was Tomikazu Fukuda, the former Mayor of Utsunomiya City, advocate of LRT,
beating the incumbent governor  Akio Fukuda, formerly Mayor of Imaichi City, near Nikko, who has been
opposed to LRT.  Refer to Guideline of the New Transportation System Committee of the city.

The LRT (Light Rail Transit) system is now proposed after long debate as the new traffic means
of transportation to solve such problems with today's automobile dependent transportation
as air pollution, energy conservation, traffic accidents as well as the terrible traffic congestion
which will not be eliminated even when all the new routes are completed as planned 
with the current pace of increase in number of cars in the city.   

Utsunomiya Mayor Eiichi Sato, successor to former Mayor Tomikazu Fukuda, announces his personal goal of 
introducing the LRT system to Utsunomiya in 2010.  Timeline in excel (May 31, 2005). Further information to follow.

What's New 2  :  One of the biggest annual events unfolding in Utsunomiya when spring comes is Utsunomiya Daido-gei, or Juggling, Festival ("Udaty"), which was started with full support from Utsunomiya-City in 2008.       

What's New 3 :  There are many exciting events, in fact, too many to keep track of in Utsunomiya.  
Among them, Twin Ring Motegi offers a wide variety of events, racing, attraction, including 
ASIMO, fireworks display in August and hot air balloon championship races.  

- April 1, 2003 -

  YouTube - Honda's Asimo Robot buckling on the stairs

 Well, if you are not a racing enthusiast but just fond of less dynamic entertainment or just fun,
would Twin Ring Motegi be a boring place?  No way.  Even on weekdays (except Tuesday, weekly closing date) 
and weekends when there are no automobiles or motorcycle racing events, there are a hotel, restaurants and 
souvenir shops, all open to serve the families and the young and the aged alike.  And some events:

Walking performance of ASIMO, one of 
Honda's  technological whizkids, at the FAN FUN LAB, is staged every day.

Performance time schedule on weekends:
11:00 AM, 1:00 PM and 3:30 PM  

For weekdays, performance time schedule:
1:00 PM and 2:30 PM  



Happy birthday, ASIMO.  
Now age 4  - Oct. 31, 2004 -

'ASIMO Theater' runs  movies on its web site which shows "performance more varied and agile in its revitalized
physique announced on April 27", oh today!

Thus the following are now old pieces:

ASIMO walks up a slope, turns and goes down

ASIMO walks down the stairs

ASIMO is shown in close range as he walks

ASIMO , spotting passers-by, stops to give way

ASIMO , sighting a person's profile, keeps track of her

ASIMO ,sighting obstacles, veers to escape 

ASIMO waves back 

ASIMO steps forward to a pointed spot

ASIMO responds to call

Google Directory  




Now, frequently asked questions are going to be answered.   - Oct. 13, 2001

Q1:  Where are smoke-free spots in Utsunomiya?

A1:  Among the very scarce smoke-free spots I know is only Starbucks Coffee.
There are now 2 Starbucks, one in Fukudaya (FKD), the other in PARCO.

Comment 1:  Many smokers are seen puffing while driving and throwing butts out of the windows.
We cannot pass through the long corridor of JR Utsunomiya Station East exit 
without seeing the smokers puffing while walking and scattering ashes, throwing butts
on the pathway.  The moment we arrive in Utsunomiya and walk through the wicket, 
the air smells suffocatingly smoky, possibly compounded by hundreds of taxi  
never bothering to stop idling while parking.  Being unaware of how they are doing harm 
to the images of us Japanese, not to mention how dirty people they are themselves, they should 
know how to behave, and the city should ban littering the streets and public installations,
if Utsunomiya is to be called an international city worthy of its grand convention center, 
Marronnier Plaza, and rapidly growing alien population.


Q2:  I am going to Utsunomiya and have my kids enrolled in local schools there.  Is it possible to
provide information on enrolling in school by age?

A2:  This Excel spreadsheet would be handy.  Just type in their birth dates in cell B4.
School Age Counting for Japan
- January 16, 2002 -


If you live in Utsunomiya and own a car, here is the easiest way to go to Narita airport
while leaving your car on a parking site close to the busstop in Utsunomiya
so you can pick up your car when you return and load your suit case and
bags full of souvenirs on it and head straight home from the busstop. 

Its location relative to its environs in Tochigi Pref. is shown in this map.

Show Larger Map

Among the many sightseeing spots, Utsunomiya City Museum, located to the northwest or 
11-o'clock direction of JR Utsunomiya Station, holds various exhibitions, but it is an interesting 
architecture on its own light, surrounded by the spacious, scenic and sunny expanse of nature
and the affluent residential community of Toyosatodai with Teikyo University's campus on the hill
and amenities such as  the shopping center "Muse".  Some Americans, who are learning Japanese,
are confused and think the name means a shop, or mise.  In my assumption, it is named after the nearby
museum.  Utsunomiya City Museum is open 9:30 AM and closed 4:30 PM, is closed on Monday.
The bus service is available from Utsunomiya Station West Gate, or Nishi Guchi,
bus stop #5, leaving at 9:15, 9:55, 11:15, 11:42, 13: 15, 14:20 and 15:05.  It takes 
about 25 minutes via Toyosatodai and Teikyo University.

 The Utsunomiya Station East Area used to be sparsely populated and
have few stores and offices, but has grown into the new business town
as more office buildings, shops, restaurants and hotels have been completed
since Utsunomiya was connected with Tokyo by the Shinkansen some 20 years ago.

Among them, Kojima, who originated from Utsunomiya, is Japan's No. 1
appliance retailer, has expanded its shop floor with its new, massive
building.  Ohtsuka Shokai has completed an eight-story building and had
its shop as well as its computer school moved there.  And, Yamada Denki,
also originating from
the Tochigi area and now a competitor of Kojima, has just
opened its new store with the floor area on a par with Kojima's.  
Thus they compete for the market to make Utsunomiya a town as crowded
with the shoppers as Akihabara.  Add Koizumi, another big local appliance retailer,
and we have the YKK, not the zipper manufacturer of course, who invite us to shop around
in Utsunomiya for personal computers, color TVs and air-cons at discount.

And the station east area has the shops of all the mobile phone, or keitai, companies -
NTT DoCoMo, KDDI and J-PHONE, owned by vodaphone of the UK.  We see their shops busy 
with many customers who have come to get the latest electronic gadget of the 21st century.  
Among the customers, many high-school girls are seen to be sitting at the counter to make purchase.

Here is the excel data version of the map of the station east area with the links to
their home pages.  When accessing the file server, you may be prompted to enter ID and
passwords.  Just press the "Cancel" button, and downloading will start.

Hotels, hospitals, sports clubs, etc. are listed in the telephone directory,
which would be updated from time to time.  

The latest data and information on Utsunomiya will be introduced
on this site, in English. To start with, the fact and figures
about the city, announced by Utsunomiya City Hall, are covered.

Now, the latest figures of alien registration, 2003 is available.  In 2000, the total alien population
of 6,979 was an increase of 18.7 percent from 5,880 in 1999, while the total population of
450,615 represented a slight increase of 0.7 percent from 447,306 in 1999.  So it is no
exaggeration to say that Utsunomiya experienced an alien population explosion
at the turn of the century.  The alien population in 1998 was 5,717.  
Ref. alien registration, 1995-1999.

It is interesting that the statistics show very few people living in Utsunomiya,
from such countries with sister cities of Utsunomiya as New Zealand, with Manukau
and from France, with Orleans City.  Utsunomiya City Hall has a network of registration
certificate services
for the citizens and the foreigners with addresses in the city.

And land prices in Utsunomiya never stops falling, especially in the commercial 
sector.  The figures as of 1999 are  available by a link listed below.

Meanwhile, in a move to publicize their region, which Utsunomiya City 
is the capital town of, following the appointment of Nikko Toshogu 
and Futaarasan shrines and Rin'ohji temple in Nikko City as the world heritage,  
Tochgi (pronounced to-chi-ghi) Prefecture have announced
that english pages have been added to their official Web site to introduce
their sightseeing spots, agriculture and industries.  (Nikkei, Jan. 6, 2000)

Utsunomiya City

Land Prices Trends 1991-1999

Marriage/Divorce/Average Age of First Marriage 1988-2002

The Aged Living without Spouse and Family 1980-1995

Traffic Accidents

Number of Passenger Cars Owned

Number of Mini Cars/Motorcycles Owned

Crimes   Felony

Monthly Average Temperatures 1991-1998

Monthly Average Precipitations/Snowfall/Thunder/Wind/Clouds/Mist/Earthquake 1998

Population 1985-2000, as of Jan 1 each year

Heidi's Web page



About Japan and Utsunomiya:
The Japan Times

Listing useful sites, TownNet

Currency Converter by, The Currency Site

Utsunomiya Directory

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Copyright (C) Ken Matsuoka