Ibaraki Prefecture, located 100 kilometers northeast of Tokyo, has very beautiful natural landscapes including a 190-kilometer coastline, Kasumigaura, the second largest lake in Japan, Fukuroda Falls, one of the three great waterfalls of Japan, and Mt. Tsukuba, a noted mountain in the Kanto area. This prefecture has fl ourishing agriculture and fishery industries and is blessed with various kinds of food. Ibaraki is filled with attractive sightseeing spots and delicious food.
Mito, the center of Ibaraki Prefecture, has a population of 260,000. Th e Kairakuen garden in the center of the city is one of the three great gardens of Japan along with Kenrokuen in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, and Korakuen in Okayama, Okayama Prefecture. Th is garden was built in 1842 by the 9th lord of Mito, Tokugawa Nariaki, who wanted to make the garden a place in which the lord and his people could enjoy together. Th ere are more than 3,000 ume (plum) trees of about 100 kinds and the aroma of those plums wafts around the garden. A plum festival takes place from mid-February through March.
Mito’s most famous food is natto (fermented soy beans), which lately has been drawing attention as a healthy food. There are many restaurants serving various kinds of natto dishes. Try your favorite dish with natto … how about natto soba or a natto omlet?
The most highly recommended sightseeing spot in the northern part of the prefecture is Fukuroda Falls. The water, resembling a beautiful curtain, cascades down four tiers. Standing close, you can feel the refreshing spray. The four seasonal views of the waterfall are delightful; in autumn, the contrast of the scarlet leaves with the water is very beautiful and, in winter, the ice formations are mysterious.
The suspension bridge Ryujin Otsuribashi, in Hitachinaka City, is the longest pedestrian bridge on the main island in Japan. the view of the gorge from the bridge 100 meters high above the water is breathtaking.
The National Seaside Park in Hitachinaka City is about 153 hectares with many flower gardens and adventurous playgrounds. The nemophila fl owers (baby blue eyes) are at their best from mid-April through mid-May. The hills are covered in blue flowers, creating an air of fantasy. And the native Hawaiian kokia flowers are beautiful in autumn.
Nakaminato Fish Market, adjacent to the Nakaminato Fishing Port, has many big fish markets and seafood restaurants. This port is among the biggest bases for coastal and pelagic fishery so the market has a wide variety of fresh fish. Try the sushi and seafood bowls there.
Tsukuba City, in the center of this district, is only about 45 minutes from Akihabara on the Tsukuba Express rapid train so the access from Tokyo is quite good. Tsukuba is well-known for its academic and research institutions.
Tsukuba Space Center is the base for space development with some areas inside the center open to the public. In the exhibition room there are space rockets from the past and test models of satellites. Tours of the space station experiment building are available.
Mt. Tsukuba, in the northern part of Tsukuba City, parallels Mt. Fuji in elegant beauty and so it is said “Mt. Fuji in the west, Mt. Tsukuba in the east.” It only takes about 15 minutes to get to the top of the 877-meter peak by ropeway and on foot and well worth the overwhelmingly beautiful view of the Kanto Plain. After strolling around the top, you can take a cable car to the bottom and then have a soak in the Tsukuba Onsen hot springs at the foot of Mt. Tsukuba.
Ushiku-Daibutsu, the Great Buddha of Ushiku, is a 30-minute bus ride from Ushiku Station. It’s said that this statue is so big it can be seen from an airplane. It is 120 meters high and, in 1995, was recognized by the Guiness Book as the world’s largest standing bronze Buddha, and big enough to walk around in. The visitors also can sit and write down sutras in the statue.
In Ami Town there is a big shopping center, Ami Premium OutletsR, with over 100 shops and restaurants. Designer brand clothes and goods from abroad as well as domestic brands, sundry goods, kids’ clothes and toys are all available; many goods and products to satisfy people of all ages. Moreover, the prices are surprising: often 50% or 70% off ! Th ere is a wide variety of restaurants and cafes so you can shop around all day long.
Ibaraki is rich in sightseeing spots, good restaurants, and nice shops. Why not visit Ibaraki this spring?