Escape the Tokyo Grind – 5 Must See Spots in Ibaraki

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If you mention the region of Ibaraki, some people tend to have a negative view of the area. We think quite the opposite with our must see spots in Ibaraki listing here.

As an example, in a recent article from the Japan Times, it was reported that Ibaraki was considered the lowest appealing region. The Ibaraki region ranked in the last spot, this was in a survey out of all 47 prefectures across Japan.

As a result, the Ibaraki district has decided to step up its PR Game. In a series of new campaigns, they hope to promote the beauty and richness of a rural region that largely goes unnoticed. We think similar, and recommend you check out the following:

1. Tsukuba Mountain

Tsukuba is one of the most famous mountains in Japan, with its easily recognisable dual peaks standing at 877m tall. People label the peaks as female (Nyotai-san or 女体山) reaching 877m and male (Nantai-san or 男体山). Literally translated they mean female body and male body respectively.

The popular hiking spot is especially busy during the spring and autumn seasons. The vegetation and surrounding trees change colours with the seasons. In the case of spring, we are talking about bright pink and white cherry blossoms. Towards later fall you can see a collage of red, orange and brown autumn leaves. It also features sweeping views of the Kanto area and features the well-known Tsukuba Shrine too.

From personal experience, I would recommend you do not try to climb this area during the Golden Week period. During this time, crowds make it exceedingly difficult to make any meaningful progress. Weekdays are the best timing from our perspective.

You can reach the base of Tsukuba Mountain via bus (about 30 mins) from Tsukuba station on the Tsukuba express line. Additionally, you can read on to find out more one of writers experiences hiking during the spring season here.

2. Tsukuba Space Center

For those science or astronomy ‘otakus’ (geeks), the Tsukuba Space Center (TKSC) offers a diverse range of exhibits and tours. It is one of JAXA’s (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) key sites for promoting Japan’s space research and development program. It is fundamental in contributing to building and developing satellites, training astronauts and conducting research for future projects.

The facility itself consists of a fully decked out ‘Space Dome’ exhibition area. This museum-esque dome features full-scale models of satellites, rocket engines and the Japanese ‘Kino’ International Space Station Module. In addition, you can book facility tours that take you around the whole site. However, please note these must be booked in advance to guarantee a spot.

The TKSC site can be accessed from Tsukuba station on the Tsukuba Express line via a short ride by bus or a ten-minute taxi ride. For further information, we recommend you visit their website.

3. Hitachi Seaside Park

The Hitachi Seaside Park is a 350-hectare reserve that has been visually manicured to perfection. It attracts crowds all year round with its spectacular display of floral colours. Situated next to the Pacific Ocean, you can find an assortment of attractions inside the park. Facility favourites include their sweeping green fields, immaculate gardens, an assortment of cafes, a Seaside Park train and even a Ferris wheel.

Seasonal Highlights include the Nemophilia sky blue and white field of flowers. Around 4.5 million blue beauties can be witnessed across the rolling sea of petals. If you witness the sweeping fields of blue on fine days, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish it from the deep blue skies too. You can witness these beauties during the months of April and May, during spring.

The Kochia bright red leave bushes are also a bright and firey sight, usually in full bloom during mid-October. This raging Autumn highlight is a stark contrast to the vivid greens that originally appear during the earlier months of Summer. These green fields can be observed in all their lush green foliage from mid-July.

Other floral highlights that occur throughout the year include neverending rows of purple tulips, bright pink roses, golden sunflowers and burning red poppies. The park itself features a huge array of BBQ and exercise facilities too. Plus, there are a variety of cafes and restaurants scattered throughout the park.

Travelling from Tokyo station, it takes a little over 2 hours to reach this rainbow wonderland of colour by train. Alternatively, you can also drive to the site, but parking on holidays and weekends tend to be heavily congested. You can find out more via their website too.

4. Oarai Sun Beach

The lonely carpark that sits opposite the widest beach in the Kanto area opens for business from Mid-July. This is the heat turns on and summer comes into full swing, and so the swim season begins.

This beach is one of the rare variety, especially in the Kanto area, that can proclaim it has white sand. Tokyo beaches typically are associated with darker sand and even murkier waters. Hence, the appeal of this beach as a cleaner place to enjoy water fun in the sun.

There is a permanent restaurant situated at the beach too, and vendors littered around the beach that operate in the peak season. However, as you can imagine their prices are inflated, being the only immediate food and beverage options in the area.

Travelling to the beach by car we believe would be the most convenient form of transport. Of course, you may need to deal with the crowds, especially in the holiday periods. Alternatively, a bus operates from Oarai station along the seashore all the way to the beach.

5. Oarai Isosaki Shrine

People love the photo ops that lonely torii gates and bodies of water provide, think Hakone Shrine or Miyajima. So how about one that stands across from the Pacific Ocean. Oarai Isosaki Shrine is one place that offers Instagrammers and pro-photographers that rare sight.

The shrine itself dates back all the way to 856 and is another structure that was destroyed by war in the 1500s. The feudal lord at the time, Tokugawa Mitsukuni, rebuilt the shrine again in the late 1690s.

Many people call this area a ‘power spot’ because it is commonly used by many looking for blessings from the gods. People come from all around to pray for good health, a future partner or fertility to give birth.

Access to the shrine is available via the Kashima Rinkai Railway’s Oarai-Kashima line at Oarai Station. A bus runs from the station more than 2km to the nearest stop Oarai Isosaki-jinja Shrine stop.

What do you think about these 5 spots, have you been to any ? Do you have any other suggestions ? We want to here your comments below!

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