Nikkō, whose ancient Shintō shrines and Buddhist temples UNESCO has recognized by naming them a World Heritage Site, is in this prefecture. Nikkō is approximately one hour by train from Tokyo, and approximately 35 km west of the capital Utsunomiya.
Another onsen resort is at Kinugawa Onsen.
In the early 15th century, Ashikaga Gakko, Japan's oldest school of higher education, was re-established, holding over 3000 students by the 16th century. Saint Francis Xavier introduced Ashikaga to the world as the best university in Japan.
In the early 17th century, Japan was unified by the shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu. After his death, Tōshō-gū shrine was built in Nikko on what the shoguns thought of as holy ground to protect and worship Ieyasu. The establishment of the Nikkō Tōshō-gū in 1617 brought Nikkō to national attention. The Tokugawa Shogunate developed the Nikkō Kaidō (日光街道, part of the major road connecting Nikkō with Edo) and required lavish processions to worship Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa line of shoguns.
In the late 19th century the Tokugawa Shogunate fell and the new government established the prefectures. The prefectural capital was established in the city of Tochigi after the unification of Utsunomiya Prefecture and Tochigi Prefecture in 1873. By 1884, however, the capital was transferred to Utsunomiya.