Despite being located close to Tokyo, many Japanese people consider Ibaraki Prefecture to be nothing but farmland. While residents of Ibaraki take pride in producing most of the country’s lotus root, there are also several places of interest to visit and things to do throughout the year. Here are five of them!
From mid-February until the end of March, the city of Mito holds their annual Plum Tree Festival (Ume Matsuri). While not as famous as the cherry blossom, the plum trees at Kairakuen symbolize the coming of spring and attract people from all over the country as well as many international visitors. Events include outdoor tea ceremonies, plum wine (umeshu) tasting, and a natto eating contest.
To get there, take the Joban Line which starts in Ueno to Mito. From Mito Station, there are buses that run to Kairakuen and the surrounding Senba Park. During the festival, they open a train station on the Joban Line with an exit right outside Kairakuen.
Hitachi Seaside Park is famous for its giant Ferris wheel, Rock in Japan Festival in August, and fields of seasonal flowers, but it is most famous for the Nemophila-covered hills that look like an extension of the sky. They can be seen from mid-April to mid-May, and attract huge crowds during Golden Week. From a distance, you might think the people are walking on air because it is hard to tell where the flowers end and the sky starts. Don’t forget your cone of Nemophila-flavored soft serve ice cream!
To get there, take the Joban Line to Katsuta (one stop away from Mito), and take a bus to Hitachi Seaside Park.
Located right on the coast, the Aqua World Ibaraki Prefectural Oarai Aquarium is fun for the whole family. There are several interactive exhibits, a popular dolphin show, breathtaking views of the ocean from the observation deck, and a food court serving sushi fresh from the local fish market. They boast having the biggest collection of sharks in Japan (safely behind a thick layer of glass).
To get there, from Mito Station, take the Oarai Kashima Line to Oarai Station, and take the Kaiyu-Go loop bus which runs eight services a day.
A popular power spot, the Kasama Inari Shrine attracts visitors throughout the year. Home to a god of agriculture, trade, and fishing; the shrine boasts a long history of over 1,400 years. While there, make sure to visit the local town shops and the nearby pottery museum, another aspect Kasama is famous for.
To get there, from Mito Station, take the Mito Line to Kasama Station. Then, take the bus for Geijitsu no Mori Koen and exit at Inarijinjyamae.
Disclaimer: Even if the waterfall is frozen enough to climb, you still need special permission and special tools to climb. Located in Daigo, this four-tier waterfall should be viewed in the spring, summer, fall, and winter. The impressive water flow in the summer, the beautiful colors of the autumn foliage, and the partial freezing of the falls in the winter keep visitors coming back all through the year. In recent years, the waterfall is lit up in the evening for a completely different experience.
A little bit out of the way, from Mito Station, take the Suigun Line to Fukuroda Station and take a bus to the falls.
It’s easy to see why the past few years have seen an increase in Ibaraki tourism: such amazing sights to see, away from all the crowds of the big city, and only a few hours from Tokyo. Consider taking a day trip to Ibaraki!