It’s time for ‘Japan by Prefecture‘ again! This is the series that aims to provide the highlights of each prefecture of Japan, along with my personal favourites and suggestions from readers. This week, we’re looking at Ibaraki Prefecture (茨城県).
Ibaraki Prefecture is part of the Kanto region (関東地方), just north-east of Tokyo. The capital city is Mito (水戸市). Ibaraki doesn’t have a huge amount of famous sightseeing spots, but there is one very well-known place: Kairakuen (偕楽園). Kairakuen is one of Japan’s three finest landscape gardens (along with Kenrokuen (兼六園) in Kanazawa and Korakuen (後楽園) in Okayama). The garden, which features over three thousand plum trees, is in Mito and was built in 1841 by Tokugawa Nariaki (徳川 斉昭). The best time to visit the garden is between late February and the end of March, as that’s when the plum blossoms will be in bloom. The Mito Plum Festival (Mito Ume Matsuri) takes place from 20th February to 31st March.
If flowers are your thing, another lesser-known place worth a visit is Hitachi Seaside Park (国営ひたち海浜公園). Hitachi Seaside Park has all sorts of beautiful flowers blooming all throughout the year, but the season that appeals to me most has to be late April to mid May when the Nemophila (‘baby blue eyes’) bloom. The park can be accessed in under two hours from Tokyo, so it even works as a day trip from the capital.
Another day trip from Tokyo to Ibaraki could feature the impressive Ushiku Daibutsu (牛久大仏), which I visited last year. Ushiku (牛久) is only an hour away from Ueno in Tokyo, so it’s really easy to get to. The Ushiku Daibutsu is an unusual place to visit, and is not exactly set up for foreign tourists, but in my opinion it’s worth the journey. At 120 metres tall, the statue really is awesome.
Finally, another impressive sight in Ibaraki is Fukuroda Falls (袋田の滝). Fukuroda Falls, in a town called Daigo (大子町), is one of Japan’s three most famous waterfalls (along with Kegon Falls (華厳滝) in Nikko and Nachi Falls (那智滝) in Wakayama). The fall is 73 metres wide and 120 metres high.
The Omiyage Section
Ibaraki’s famous souvenirs (or ‘omiyage’ / おみやげ) are mostly foods made with local ingredients. Common flavours include plum (top right) and natto (top left). Of course, each tourist attraction will have its own souvenirs too, just like the Ushiku Daibutsu sweets pictured below.
(Image sources: 1, own images )
Next week I will be writing about Tochigi (栃木県). Have you been there? What’s good to eat there and what omiyage should I buy? What are the best sightseeing spots or hidden gems? Please do share your thoughts below, and join me next week for Japan by Prefecture!