Utsunomiya Grand Hotel's garden provides a gracious welcome to visitors. This garden has an ancient origin spanning back to the Kamakura Period. It has ties to Fujiwara no Soen, the great-grandchild of Imperial Regent Fujiwara no Michikane and forefather of the Utsunomiya Clan that lasted for 22 generations.
In the Edo Period, Toda Tadazane (the first lord of the Utsunomiya Domain) was forced to relocate to Utsunomiya during the rule of Tokugawa Yoshimune, the eighth shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate. In 1731, he built a residence of roughly 30,000 square meters, named "Oyama Yashiki," in this area.
His vast garden, with lush trees and blooming flowers in each season, had two shrines to the deities Inari and Hachiman. It was opened on the first Day of the Horse in February each year, allowing the common people tovisit.
At that time, the hill where Oyama Yashiki stood was called "Kyokuryo" ("Hill of the Morning Sun") because of the picturesque scenery of morning sunshine on the hill with the clear Ta River below.
According to Uyo Ryakuki, a book from the latter half of the Edo Period, "The mountains below make a wonderful, picturesque scene."
The Toda Clan's rule of the Utsunomiya Domain, which had lasted for roughly 130 years, ended together with the Edo Period. In 1906, Japanese Army Lieutenant General Shigeo Samejima, who was from Satsuma, moved to Utsunomiya for a new appointment and built a villa there.
Samejima helped Japan win the First Sino-Japanese War and Russo-Japanese War, for which he was elevated to the peerage with the title of baron and promoted to general. He was devoted to the development of modern Utsunomiya, and even after his retirement from military service, he spent the rest of his life at his villa until his death in 1928.
Traces of Baron Samejima's villa garden can still be seen in the current garden. A triangle is formed by the cherry tree bestowed by Emperor Meiji and stone lantern and stone well curb from Tanba, Kyoto.
Utsunomiya Grand Hotel, opened in 1971, was Utsunomiya's first Western-style hotel. Its predecessor was Kappo Ryoukan Younansou, a Sukiya-style Japanese restaurant with an attached inn that was built for Princess Chichibu in 1954. During the hotel's 60-year history, it has served as a guesthouse to welcome many honored guests from inside and outside Japan including members of the Imperial Household. This hotel with a garden has also been continually beloved by residents of the local region.