Japan is a long and narrow chain of islands extending from Hokkaido to Okinawa. Given it extends over a great distance, the climate and attitudes of the people in each prefecture are different. If you compare the characteristics of each prefecture, especially the local food tastes and culture, you will find many differences. This series of articles is a bit different in that we hope it will help you to understand a given prefecture better in order to make your trip smoother.
In this 11th Volume, we are going to take a light-hearted look at Tochigi Prefecture, famous for Nikko Toshogu Shrine and Ashikaga Flower Park.
Tochigi Prefecture residents embrace change.....eventually
They are relatively demotivated and reluctant to accept changes. However, once they decide to do something, they do it wholeheartedly.
The Japanese in general are not so extroverted, but the Tochigi people are relatively less gregarious. Due to them being somewhat reserved, your first impressions of Tochigi residents might not be that good. But the more you talk to them, the more you will understand they are kind-hearted people. Once you establish close ties, your friendship will be lasting since they treat people sincerely.
Men are more conservative and shy, while most of the women are responsible wives and devoted mothers
When you first meet men from Tochigi Prefecture, you might find them a bit dull initially. However, you will figure out with the passage of time that they are honest and trustworthy. When you are with them, you never need to worry about being cheated on. Women from Tochigi are modest. Once they are in a love relationship they will not cheat. Many women tend to marry early and continue working even after getting married, but once they have children, they will become a good wife and mother at home.
Tochigi people return home when there is lightning
Tochigi Prefecture has one of the highest rates of lightning storms in Japan. In Utsunomiya city in particular, the lightning intensity and frequency is higher compared to other cities. In summer, there is lightning almost every evening. Since lightning storms are extremely strong in Utsunomiya, people who are working outdoors will return home whenever they occur. Surge protectors are commonly fitted to the electric sockets in Tochigi homes.
Shark dishes during New Year
During New Year, in addition to osechi and ozoni (traditional New Year dishes), residents of Tochigi Prefecture eat sakanbo or shark meat. Since the simmered shark meat is very soft and has few bones, young children and the elderly can eat it safely meaning people tend to serve this dish whenever there is a party with many relatives and neighbors. The odd thing about this fondness for shark meat though, is that Tochigi Prefecture is completely landlocked and about as far from the sea as you can be in Japan.
Lemon milk is a daily necessity
In Tochigi Prefecture, it is commonplace for people to drink "lemon milk" just like coffee milk is drunk in other prefectures. This is a unique drink that often comes as a surprise to people from other prefectures. Even though there is no actual lemon juice in lemon milk, the drink is both sweet and sour, which is not necessarily to everyone's liking. There are many other strange items sold in Tochigi such as lemon yogurt, lemon sausage, and lemon udon noodles. And incidentally, Tochigi Prefecture does not produce lemons.
There are many prefectural characteristics that seem bizarre and incredible to people from other prefectures. Please also check out the other articles in this series! If there is any prefecture you wish to understand better, please post your request in the comments!