Ibaraki, one of Japan’s best-kept secrets, is a prefecture that offers visitors an array of exciting things to see and do. From exploring natural landscapes to dining on local cuisine, there’s something for everyone. The following article explores ten exciting things to do in Ibaraki, Japan.
1. Explore the Natural Beauty of Ibaraki
If you’re a lover of nature, Ibaraki will not disappoint. The prefecture boasts beautiful landscapes that are perfect for exploring. From stunning parks to majestic waterfalls, there’s no shortage of natural beauty to discover in Ibaraki.
Visit Hitachi Seaside Park
One of the most popular destinations in Ibaraki is Hitachi Seaside Park. This beautiful park offers a beautiful spread of seasonal flowers, including the famous blue nemophila flowers. The park is a favourite amongst visitors, thanks to the beautiful scenery and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.
But there’s more to this park than just flowers. Visitors can also enjoy a variety of activities, such as cycling, hiking, and picnicking. For those who love a bit of adventure, there’s even a roller coaster and Ferris wheel to enjoy. And if you’re visiting with kids, be sure to check out the playground and the mini-train ride.
Discover Fukuroda Falls
If you’re looking for a beautiful waterfall to explore, look no further than Fukuroda Falls. Located in the city of Daigo, the waterfall is an impressive four-tiered cascade that offers a beautiful view, no matter the season.
But the falls aren’t the only attraction here. Visitors can also enjoy a relaxing walk on the nearby walking trail, which offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. And for those who want to get up close and personal with the falls, there’s even a paddle boat ride that takes you right up to the base of the falls.
Stroll Through Kairakuen Garden
Ibaraki’s Kairakuen Garden is a beautiful Japanese garden that dates back to the 19th century. Featuring more than 3,000 plum trees, this garden is a favourite destination for visitors during the blooming season.
But there’s more to this garden than just plum trees. Visitors can also explore the bamboo grove, which offers a peaceful and serene atmosphere. And for those who want to learn more about Japanese culture, there’s a small tea house where you can enjoy a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. And of course, no visit to the garden would be complete without a stroll around the large pond, where you can enjoy the beauty of the garden from a different perspective.
So whether you’re a nature lover, an adventure seeker, or a culture enthusiast, Ibaraki has something for everyone. With its stunning parks, majestic waterfalls, and beautiful gardens, there’s no shortage of natural beauty to explore in this beautiful prefecture.
2. Immerse Yourself in Ibaraki’s Rich History
In addition to its natural beauty, Ibaraki is also a historical destination that offers visitors a glimpse of Japan’s rich cultural past. The region is home to several landmarks that are sure to fascinate history buffs and casual visitors alike.
Tour the Mito Castle Ruins
Mito Castle Ruins is an excellent place to learn about the history of Ibaraki. This castle was built in the early 17th century, during the Edo period, and was the residence of the Mito clan for several generations. The castle was once a sprawling complex that included several buildings and gardens. However, it was largely destroyed during the Meiji Restoration, and today, only the ruins remain.
Despite its ruined state, the castle is still an impressive sight. Visitors can explore the remains of the castle walls and towers, which offer fantastic views of the surrounding countryside. Be sure to climb to the top of the lookout tower for a breathtaking panorama of the region.
If you’re interested in learning more about the castle’s history, be sure to visit the nearby museum, which features exhibits on the Mito clan and the Edo period.
Experience the Edo Period at Kodokan School
The Kodokan School is a fascinating place to explore if you’re a history buff. This school was once an academy for samurai who studied various disciplines, including martial arts, literature, and Confucian philosophy. The school was established in the late 18th century and was in operation until the Meiji Restoration.
Today, the school has been restored to its former glory, offering visitors a glimpse of life during the Edo period. Visitors can explore the school grounds, which feature several buildings, including a dojo and a library. The buildings are decorated with traditional Japanese art and furnishings, giving visitors a sense of what life was like for the samurai who once studied here.
If you’re lucky, you may even be able to witness a demonstration of samurai martial arts, which are still practiced at the school today.
Marvel at the Ancient Kashima Jingu Shrine
If you’re interested in Japan’s cultural and religious history, be sure to visit the Kashima Jingu Shrine. This shrine dates back to the 8th century and is dedicated to Takemikazuchi-no-kami, one of Japan’s principal Shinto gods.
The shrine features several buildings, including a large wooden gate, an impressive main hall, and a beautiful garden that’s worth exploring. The main hall is decorated with intricate carvings and paintings, and visitors can learn about the shrine’s history and significance by reading the informational plaques located throughout the grounds.
One of the most interesting features of the shrine is its sumo ring, which is said to be the oldest in Japan. Visitors can watch sumo matches and demonstrations here, and even try their hand at the sport themselves.
Overall, Ibaraki is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Japan’s rich cultural and historical heritage. With its stunning natural beauty and fascinating landmarks, there’s something here for everyone to enjoy.
3. Savor Ibaraki’s Local Cuisine
No visit to Ibaraki is complete without sampling some of the local cuisine. From sweet to savory, there is something for every palate. Ibaraki is known for its fresh and flavorful dishes that are sure to tantalize your taste buds.
Taste the Famous Natto
Natto is one of Ibaraki’s most famous foods, made from fermented soybeans. This dish is either loved or hated, but it’s worth trying to sample a unique Japanese delicacy. Natto has a distinct smell and slimy texture, but it is packed with health benefits and is a source of protein and fiber.
If you’re feeling adventurous, try topping it with green onion, soy sauce, and a raw egg. The combination of flavors and textures is sure to be a memorable experience.
For those who are not fans of natto, there are plenty of other dishes to try in Ibaraki.
Indulge in Fresh Seafood at Oarai Fishing Port
Ibaraki is home to several fishing ports, including Oarai, where visitors can indulge in some of the freshest seafood available. Oarai Fishing Port is known for its bustling atmosphere and fresh catches of the day.
From tuna and salmon to uni and scallops, the variety of seafood on offer here is impressive. Sample the sashimi, or try a hot plate of grilled seafood cooked in front of you. Whatever you choose, you won’t be disappointed.
While you’re at the port, take a stroll around the area and take in the sights and sounds of the local fishermen at work.
Try Traditional Sweets at a Local Wagashi Shop
If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to visit a local wagashi shop. These traditional Japanese sweets are made with mochi, anko (sweet red bean paste), and seasonal ingredients.
From sakura mochi (pink rice cake with a cherry blossom flavor) to yomogi mochi (green rice cake with a herb flavor), there are many varieties to sample. Some shops even offer tea and wagashi sets, allowing you to enjoy the full experience.
Wagashi shops are often family-owned and operated, with recipes passed down through generations. Take a moment to appreciate the craftsmanship and artistry that goes into making these delicate sweets.
Overall, Ibaraki’s local cuisine offers a unique and delicious experience for foodies and travelers alike. Don’t be afraid to try something new and immerse yourself in the local culture.
4. Enjoy Ibaraki’s Unique Festivals and Events
Ibaraki is a lively destination that offers visitors the opportunity to participate in unique festivals and events. With a rich cultural heritage, there are numerous festivals and events that take place throughout the year, providing visitors with a chance to immerse themselves in the local culture and traditions.
Witness the Spectacle of the Mito Plum Blossom Festival
If you’re visiting Ibaraki during the spring, be sure to attend the Mito Plum Blossom Festival. This festival takes place in Kairakuen Garden and celebrates the blooming of the plum trees. The festival is a feast for the senses, with the sweet fragrance of the plum blossoms filling the air, and the beautiful pink and white blooms providing a stunning visual display.
Vendors sell traditional Japanese food, including delicious treats such as sakura mochi, a sweet rice cake wrapped in a cherry blossom leaf. Visitors can enjoy live music and dance performances, with traditional Japanese instruments such as the shamisen and taiko drums providing a lively soundtrack to the festivities. The garden is lit up at night, providing a beautiful view of the blossoms under the stars.
Celebrate the Annual Tsukuba Festival
Another festival not to be missed is the Tsukuba Festival. This festival takes place in October and features a variety of events, including a taiko drum performance, live music, and a parade. The festival is a celebration of the harvest season, with local farmers showcasing their produce and traditional Japanese arts and crafts on display.
One of the highlights of the festival is the fireworks display. Visitors can enjoy the fireworks from several vantage points around the city, including the top of Mt. Tsukuba, which offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the city and surrounding countryside.
Experience the Traditional Kashima Gatalympics
The Kashima Gatalympics is a unique event that takes place every year. This event celebrates the art of mud wrestling, and visitors can participate in various events, including team tug-of-war and sumo wrestling. The event takes place in the town of Kashima, and participants are encouraged to wear old clothes and shoes. Don’t be afraid to get muddy!
In addition to the mud wrestling, the festival also features traditional Japanese games and activities, such as kendama (a cup-and-ball game), and yoyo-tsuri (a fishing game). Visitors can also sample local delicacies, such as grilled eel and soba noodles, and watch traditional Japanese dance performances.
Whether you’re interested in traditional Japanese culture, food, or just having a good time, Ibaraki’s festivals and events offer something for everyone. So why not plan your trip to Ibaraki today and experience the unique and vibrant culture of this beautiful region?
Ibaraki is a prefecture that offers visitors a unique combination of natural beauty, cultural significance, and delicious cuisine. Whether you’re interested in exploring gardens or learning about history, there’s something for everyone in Ibaraki.
So why not pack your bags and visit Ibaraki? You won’t be disappointed.