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Ibaraki

Spacious land containing the second largest lake in Japan and a plenty of ponds and rivers
Ibaraki is located in the center of the Honshu (the main land of Japan) and about 40 km away from Tokyo. Facing the Pacific Ocean on the east, Ibaraki is divided into three parts - the mountainous area in the north, the center-to-south stretch of the Kanto plains and the area containing the Tone-gawa River its tributary streams. North of the prefecture is a region of travel lure having, for example, the Fukuroda-no-taki Falls that is one of the three renowned waterfalls in Japan. The seasonally changing Mt.Tsukuba-san stands in the heart of the prefecture dominating the Kanto plains. At its foot spreads Tsukuba Kenkyu Gakuen Toshi, a town made up chiefly of the Tsukuba University and various government-owned and private research institutions.

In the Kasumigaura, the second largest lake in Japan, you can have a good time cruising in a pleasure boat and fishing bass. Itako is a riverside district of the Tone-gawa River, where you can enjoy a waterway excursion on a flat-bottom boat propelled by a jolly woman sculler. Especially, early summer makes the waterway flowery with sweetflags in full bloom on both sides, attracting many tourists. The Kairaku-en in Mito, built in the 19th century by Tokugawa Nariaki, the then lord of the Mito clan, is one of three renowned gardens in Japan along with Kenroku-en in Ishikawa and Koraku-en in Okayama. It is thronged with plum trees and hagi (Japanese bush clover) flower viewers when the flowers are in boom. In Kasama, which is a town of pottery, you can try out a potter's work on your own.

Getting there
It takes 2 hours and 30 minutes from Shin-Osaka to Tokyo Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line, and 7 minutes from Tokyo Station to Ueno Station. It is 1 hour and 5 minutes ride from Ueno Station to Mito Station by JR Jyoban Line Limited Express.
 

  • Mito
    Remnant of a former castle town - Gorgeous festivals are also impressive
    Mito City, lying in the central part of Ibaraki, has developed as the commercial, economical and cultural center of the prefecture. The area on the north side of the station retains the appearance of the olden days. The feudal era network of streets is studded with various historical sites, such as the Kodokan School, founded by the ruling clan in the Edo Period, and the ruins of Mito Castle.

    The newly developed area to the south of the station has quite a few elegant shops and restaurants. This area also enjoys abundant nature, including Lake Senba-ko and the Sakura-gawa River, lined with beautiful cherry trees. Kairakuen Park is known as one of the three great parks of Japan. With more than 3,000 plum trees of 100 varieties and other seasonal plants including rape blossoms and cosmos, it is a place of relaxation for local people of all generations, from young couples to families. One can freely enjoy all sorts of fine arts at the Ibaraki Museum of Modern Art, Mito Geijutsu-kan(Art Tower Mito) and the Ibaraki Prefectural Museum of History.

    Mito Han Jidai-matsuri Festival, held annually in autumn and highlighted by the historical parade, and Mito Komon-matsuri Festival, held in summer, are also sightseeing musts, as well as other seasonal festivals such as Sakura(cherry blossom)-matsuri Festival, Tsutsuji(azalea)-matsuri Festival, Ajisai(hydrangea)-matsuri Festival, Hagi(Japanese bush clover)-matsuri Festival and Kiku(chrysanthemum)-matsuri Festival.

    Getting there
    By JR Jyoban Line Limited Express, 65 minutes, from Ueno Station to Mito Station. From Shin-Osaka Station, 3 hours 10 minutes, via Tokyo Station.

     

  • Mt. Tsukuba-san
    Mt. Tsukuba-san commanding the Kanto Plain - The shrine for business thriving, talismans, and matchmaking
    Mt. Tsukuba-san, situated in about the center of Ibaraki, consists of two peaks, Mt. Nyotai-san and Mt. Nantai-san, 876 meters and 870 meters above the sea level each, between which there is a view spot called Miyukigahara, from which you can get a fine view of the Kanto Plain. Tsukuba-san Shrine is one of the oldest shrines in this country, and its name appears in the poems written in the 8th and 10th centuries. The shrine makes Mt. Tsukuba-san the object of worship, and its hall of worship on the mountainside is visited by lots of tourists. The shrine is also known as the god of business thriving, talismans, and matchmaking. A festival called Ozagawarisai is held there as an annual event in spring and autumn every year.

    The most popular path to the mountaintop is a hiking trail starting from Tsutsujigaoka at the east foot of the mountain. It goes through Benkei-Nanamodori (Benkei returning seven times), where Benkei the warrior priest, most notorious for his boldness, is said to have been so afraid that he hesitated to try seven times to get to the mountaintop. There is a series of strange rocks and bizarre stones including Defune-Irifune (leaving and arriving of ships) Stones, named after their appearance of the two wide, plate-like stones standing just like ships are leaving and arriving at a port, which represents peculiar features of Mt. Tsukuba-san. On the other hand, the Tsukuba-san Cable Car, connecting Tsukuba-san Shrine and the top of Mt. Nantai-san, commanding flowering plants of the season and huge rocks is worth seeing. While the Tsukuba-san Ropeway from Tsutsujigaoka to the top of Mt. Nyotai-san also commands a splendid view, and provides a wonderful ride on the weekend evening for tourists to enjoy a night scene below.

    Getting there
    Tsuchiura is 50 minutes from Ueno Station by the JR Jyoban Line limited express. Then take a bus from Tsuchiura Station to Tsukuba, where changing buses, and take another to Tsukuba-san Shrine, which takes 1 hour in total. Tokyo Station is 2 hours 30 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line. Ueno is 7 minutes from Tokyo Station by the JR Yamanote Line.

     

  • Oku-Kuji
    Fukuroda-no-taki Falls that reflects the seasonal beauties in the scenery
    Oku-Kuji is located in the northernmost part of Ibaraki. It is an area, which is in deep in Mt.Yamizo-san, the highest peak in the prefecture, where Kuji-gawa River flows from south to north. The 40 km of Kuji-gawa River starting at the border of Fukushima and Ibaraki through Daigo Basin to Yamagata Town, is full of steep-walled valleys and fast-flowing streams. There are camping sites and hiking courses available in the surrounding area. It is also famous for fishing points and fish weirs where fishes come and swarm in gathered flows and trapped.

    Fukuroda-no-taki Falls, said to be one of the most famous falls in Japan is 120 m high and 73 m wide and falls stopping at four different levels on the way down. The falls also is called "four-time falls" as it reflects four seasonal beauties such as fresh spring green, red leaves of autumn or icefall in winter. There are plenty hot springs in the surrounding areas. The hot springs such as Daigo, Fukuroda and Tsukiore are scattered in the area. There is also "Kurhaus Forespa Daigo" where you can indulge yourself in fourteen different kinds of spas such as herbal spa or Jacuzzi with swimsuit on is also a tempting option.

    Getting there
    By Limited Express on JR Joban Line for 1 hour and 5 minutes from Ueno Station to Mito Station. By JR Suigun Line for 1 hour and 20 minutes from Mito Station to Fukuroda Station. An hour and 25 minutes from Mito Station to Hitachi-Daigo Station.

     

  • Oarai
    A shallow beach surrounded by reefs - The beach resort for swimming and watching dolphin show
    Oarai Town is situated in the east of Ibaraki. The seashores facing the Pacific Ocean, Lake Hinuma located on the back of the town, and areas along the Hinuma River form popular resort areas, belonging to Oarai Prefectural Park. The white-crested waves breaking against the conglomerate rocks on Oarai Promontory are very dynamic, from which the sandy beach stretches southward. This beach is known as one of the pleasantest sea bathing resorts in Kanto region.

    With golf courses, campsites, and yacht basins spotted along the seaside, both Oarai Beach, surrounded by reefs, and Oarai Sun Beach, boasting its shallow beach, are crowded with lots of swimmers in the mid summer. The surfing race and beach volleyball games are often held. The high-speed pleasure boat for watching dolphins is available from Oarai Harbor, and you can enjoy a wonderful cruise.

    In Oarai Aquarium, they keep 15,000 aquatic animals consisting of about 350 different species, and you can enjoy watching shows by sea lions and dolphins, and also watching a "feeding " show. In the Oarai Marine Tower, as tall as 60 meters, you can enjoy your meals while enjoying a splendid view at the restaurant 50 meters above the ground. On a hill commanding a fine view of Oarai Promontory, surrounded by Japanese black pines and chinquapin trees, there stands Oarai Isosaki Shrine. This shrine is known as a guardian deity of safe voyages. In the precincts of the shrine, Oarai Sea Museum stands which was built in commemoration of the 1100th anniversary of the shrine founding.

    Getting there
    Mito Station is 1 hour 5 minutes from Ueno Station by the JR Jyoban Line. Then take the Kashima Rinkai Railway from Mito Station to Oarai, which takes 15 minutes. From Shin-Osaka Station to Tokyo Station, it takes 2 hours 30 minutes by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line. Then take the JR Yamanote Line from Tokyo Station to Ueno Station, which takes 7 minutes.

     

  • Suigo (Itako and Kashima)
    Town with waterways surrounded by a river and a lake - Enjoy the Festival while on board a Sappa-bune boat
    Itako is located in the southeastern part of Ibaraki, surrounded by Hitachi-Tone-gawa river and Lake Kitaura. It is a watertown where narrow waterways run everywhere, and the town forms a part of the Suigo-Tsukuba Quasi-National park. There is a half-hour sightseeing tour by small Sappa-bune boat which is steered by boatwoman dressed in Monpe with splashed patterns (a type of Japanese working clothes similar to a pair of trousers) and the hat woven with sedge leaves. The tour of the 12 bridges by Sappa-bune boat called 'Maekawa-junikyo Meguri' is also popular among tourists.

    Five hundred kinds of irises called Ayame and Hanashobu, that are one million in number, are in bloom in early summer in Itako and you can enjoy the Itako Ayame-matsuri Festival while on board a Sappa-bune boat. Located to the slightly east of Itako, Kashima City faces the Kashima Sea to the east and the Lake Kitaura to the northwest. Kashima developed from old times as a relay point of the sea routes that have been used to voyage the Pacific Ocean. Kashima-jingu Shrine is located at the center of the city and you can enjoy the sight of the fine Ro-mon gate (a two-storied gate), Hai-den or the front shrine and Hon-den or the main shrine that are designated as important cultural properties, and also the treasury, the Homotsu-den. Also in Kashima, as the site for the 2002 Soccer World Cup, the preparation is in process.

    Getting there
    By JR Sobu Kashima Limited Express for 1 hour and 50 minutes from Tokyo Station to Itako Station, for 2 hours from Tokyo Station to Kashima Jingu Station.

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  Information provided by Japan National Tourist Organization.

 

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