CIR Diary

International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI 2018)

(*日本語は下にあります。)

On September 7th, we visited the Tsukuba International Convention Center where the 30th International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI 2018) was held.

The event is an annual international informatics competition where contestants from various countries come together and solve an array of computer science related problems and compete for a chance at a gold medal.

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The number of participants in this prestigious competition has been steadily increasing. This year’s IOI welcomed more than 900 participants representing 85 different countries. While the event is mostly focused on science, it also gives participants to enjoy multiple different cultures through their interactions with the other contestants and the staff.

According to the volunteer we talked to, most of the volunteers were exchange students from Tsukuba University, the rest is made of Japanese students and staff of companies around the area. Each of them was assigned to a team in respect to their mother language or a language they are skilled at. And the volunteer is in charge of showing their assigned team to the dormitory, food court, contest halls, as well as helping them get around in the city while providing interpretation. Of the couple volunteers we talked to, all of them were enthusiastic to share their experience with the foreign teams.

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“Showing the contestant teams around in Tsukuba city was really fun, it reminded me of my first culture shock after coming to Japan a few years ago. I made some great friends through this opportunity and we have made promises to meet again either in Japan or somewhere else in the world.”

“I felt very connected to be able to meet someone from my home country who lives in this city,” says one of the team member in regard to his assigned volunteer exchange student, “It gave me a sense of home while competing in a country I have never been to, and I was able to learn so much about the life here, makes me want to come back again in the future.”

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We had the opportunity to interview some of the contestants and staff to get their perspectives on the event and what brought them all the way here to Japan.

The Japanese national team was made of some of the most intelligent students one can ever meet, they are a little shy to speak at first, but when the topic is brought upon the contest itself, their eyes were filled with joy and excitement. They complimented each other on their respective results in different sessions and expressed how amazed they were by the talent of other foreign teams.

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“You never know how big the world, and how many greater people are out there until you really compete with them.” says the Japanese contestant Inoue Wataru, “I see them, just like regular students, and I didn’t expect how amazing they are when sitting in front of the screen.” Inoue Wataru won personal score of 6th place in the entire contest, we must say he is being overly humble with his words, as we felt the exact same about him and his teammates.

The Chinese contestants were no doubt the best in their team effort, all of the four members won the gold medal with personal results of 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 23rd place. Unlike the other teams who dressed very casually, they came to the event in matching suits and ties. However, when confronted about this, they laughed and replied with a blush. “Our coach teacher said that we should wear suits because Japan values those who dress formally to international events such as this one, so we thought we should follow the culture here. But turns out we are the most formally dressed, teams from the other countries just wore shorts and t-shirts like they would if they work in silicon valley.”

They explained to us the very strict selection process of contestants from China, the 4 of them were chosen through 3 stages of intensive selection tests and training camp, out of over 2000 students who signed up from schools all over China.

DSC_9403Finally, we were able to talk to the legend himself Benjamin Qi. Before attending the event, we had no idea who he was but once we arrived at the venue, he was all everyone talked about. “Have you met Benjamin Qi?!”, “We call him BenQ”, “His talent is out of this world”.

When we met Benjamin, he came out of an elevator and suddenly all the contestants had their heads turned towards him. “Oh, he’s here! He’s here! That’s BenQ!” That’s when we knew we had to make find out why this particular competitor was so famous.

 

As far as the first impression goes, Benjamin seemed like just any other regular high school student. One could not have imagined that he was one of the leading programmers of his age group. When asked about his fame at the event he was very humble about it and said he wasn’t a fan of all the attention. Benjamin Qi is a high school student from Princeton, the United States who made a name for himself at this event by achieving a perfect score on a problem that lasted for 5 hours. A feat no one has to come to achieve up until this year’s Olympiad. Benjamin gained interest in computer science while in 8th grade.

DSC_9411He said he self-studied until he entered high school where he took classes on the subject. To secure a spot at this year’s IOI 2018, Benjamin participated in a 6-day long competition in North Carolina where he and other high schoolers went head-to-head to become one of the United States’ representatives at the event. As the for the event, Benjamin noted that it was a fantastic opportunity to put his skills to the test as well as great exposure to a variety of global cultures. Benjamin won 2018 IOI personal best with 4 perfect scores and a big percentage gap with the 2nd place winner.

In the end, we realized that we were only merely taking a slight peek under the curtains, the world of informatics and how important these skills are to the future society is unable to be valued.

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We live in a world where words such as “geeks” and “nerds” are still widely used as insults and mocking to people who have different interests than the so-called “majority”. It is sad to see students being bullied at school and called names because their talents are not being understood by the ignorant mass. However, the nerd discrimination is bound to disappear as leading figures like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk who are bringing significant changes to the world through technology. We hope that one day, the contestants will shine on the world stage with their great talent in informatics and the skills to push our society forward.

 

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This is the first time the IOI is hosted in Japan, and Tsukuba city was selected to be its hosting venue. The city of Tsukuba is also known as the Tsukuba Science City, it is now the most significant science technology accumulation site in the country, where more than 300 public and private institutions and enterprises are located. Many foreign researchers and exchange students who seek for high-level experiences and opportunities gather in Tsukuba. The city also offers various services in multi-language to support the living of foreign residents. While its foreign residents give back to the community by doing volunteer works, representing Tsukuba and acting as the bridge between this city they live in and the world.

2018

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From left: CIR Cedric (USA), CIR Gloria (Canada)

 

 

(日本語訳)

9月7日水曜日に,私たちは,「国際情報オリンピック(IOI)」の取材のため,つくば国際会議場を訪れました。

このイベントは,毎年開催され,数理情報科学を競うため各国からつくば市に集まった競技者は,数多くの情報科学に関する問題を解き,金メダル獲得を目指します。

この名誉ある競技会には,85の国を代表する900名以上の競技者が参加し,その数は年々増加しています。イベントでは,科学に焦点があてられる一方で,競技者の皆さんは,他の競技者やスタッフの方々との交流を通じ,多様な文化に触れているようです。

この大会を支えるボランティアのお話によると,彼らの殆どは,筑波大学の学生とのことでしたが,他の大学の学生や会社関係者も参加しています。ボランティアは,自身の母国語とチームメンバーが話す言語と同じか,あるいは,日常的にその言語を理解できるレベルにある場合,当該チームに割り当てられ,宿舎や食事場所,競技場への案内や通訳をしながら,市内の紹介も行います。皆さん,外国から来たチームと積極的に交流していました。

「競技者をつくば市にご案内することはとても楽しいことです。数年前の来日直後にカルチャーショックを覚えたことを思い出させます。この機会を通じて多くの素晴らしい知り合いができ,日本か海外で再会することを約束しました。」

「この街に住む,同国人の方と知り合いになれ,つながりを強く感じています。」と語るのは,ボランティアとして勤める交換留学生。「行ったことがない国と競うことで母国に想いを馳せます。ここでは,多くを学ぶことができ,また戻ってきたいという気持ちになります。」

私たちは,競技者とスタッフに,このイベントについての見解やどのような経緯で来日することになったかインタビューする機会を得ました。

日本代表チームは,とても知的な生徒たちで構成されています。初めは内気に話していましたが,競技の話になると一転し,彼らの目は興奮に満ちた様に変わりました。日本のチームメイトたちの結果に賛辞を送りつつ,他国のチームの才能にも驚きを隠せない様子でした。

「実際に対戦してみないと,世界とはいかに大きく,多くの優秀な競技者がいるということに気づきません。」と語るのは,日本代表の井上さん。「彼らはただの学生にしか見えませんが,一緒に競技をしてみると,彼らの優秀さに気づきます。」そんな井上さん自身も,個人得点で六位という成績を上げていて,かなり控えめに発言していることがわかります。

中国代表は,疑いなくチーム全体の力量としては最上でしょう。メンバー4人全てが2位,3位,6位,23位という金メダルを獲得しています。軽装で参加している他のチームと違い,彼らはお揃いのスーツで参加しています。このような事実について,彼らは笑えみ,顔を赤らげて返答します。「僕たちの先生から,こういう国際イベントにおいては,正装が日本では評価されると聞いていましたから,この国の文化に従っただけですよ。結果として,僕たちが最も正装になってしまい,他の国の競技者は,まるでシリコンバレーにでも勤めているかのようにTシャツと短パンでしたね。」

彼らは,中国国内での厳しい選考過程も説明してくれました。4人は,3次に渡る,過酷な選考試験と合宿を経て,国内2,000人の応募者の中から選抜されたのです。

遂に私たちは,ベンジャミン・クイ,その人と会うことが叶いました。私たちは,今日ここに来るまで,彼のことを知りませんでした。しかし,会場に到着するや否や,競技者の皆さんが,彼の話をしていることに気づきます。「ベンジャミン・クイにもう会った?」「彼の才能は並外れているよ。」

私たちが,ベンジャミンに出会ったのは,彼がエレベーターから降りてくるところで,皆,彼の方を見るのです。「彼が来た!ベンQだ!」そういう声を聞いてようやく彼がどれほど有名なのか気づいたのです。

最初の印象では,ベンジャミンは,普通の高校生にしか見えません。彼が世代を代表するトップのプログラマーだとは誰も気づかないでしょう。私たちが自身の名声についてどう思うか尋ねると,そういう注目はあまり好かないと,とても控えめに話します。ベンQは,5時間にもおよぶ問題を完全回答した米国プリンストン出身の高校生なのです。これは,今年の情報五輪まで誰も達成していない快挙なのです。彼は,中学二年生の時にコンピューターサイエンスに興味を覚えたのだそうです。

この科目は高校に入学するまで自己学習をしていたそうです。今年の情報五輪の参加権を得るまで,彼は,ノースカロライナにおいて6日間に渡る他の高校生との競争に打ち勝って米国代表になっています。彼は,今回のIOIについて,異文化を体験しつつ,自分が培った技術で競技に臨めることは素晴らしいことだと言い,自己ベストで,第2位に大差をつけ優勝しています。

最後に,私たちは今回,数理情報科学の世界を垣間見たに過ぎませんが,これらの技術は,私たちの将来に計り知れないほど重要だと気付かされます。

世間では,限られた特定の分野に興味を抱く人たちを未だ「おたく」という言葉で嘲り,彼らの才能が,凡人には,およそ理解できないとの理由で,嘆かわしいことに,学校でいじめられたり,誹謗中傷を受けたりします。しかしながら,「おたく」と言って差別する行為は,技術革新で世界を変えたスティーブ・ジョブスやイーロン・マスクのような才能を消し去ることにもなりかねません。私たちは,今回の競技者の皆さんが,将来,情報科学の世界で,その比類ない才能を発揮し,世界を動かす原動力になることを期待してやみません。

今回のIOIは,日本で初めて開催され,つくば市が開催地として選ばれました。つくば市は, 300もの公的,民間両方の科学関連施設が集積する日本で最も重要な科学都市として認知されています。高いレベルの研究を求めて,多くの外国人科学者や留学生がここつくば市に集まってくるのです。市では,外国人居住者に対する様々な多言語によるサービスを提供しています。一方で外国人居住者たちは,世界との橋渡し役として様々なボランティアを提供しているのです。

 

今回のIOI開催を契機として,つくば市,ひいては茨城県がより国際的に飛躍することを願ってやみません。

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Upcoming Events

Flowering 2018 ~Nemophila Harmony~

About 4.5 million flowers of nemophila will turn one side of the “Miharashi-no-Oka” into a sea of blue. It is a panoramic masterpiece where the sky, ocean, and the hill becomes one.

When: 
April 21st (Sat.) ~ May 13th (Sun.), 9:30 am ~ 5:00 pm
The park will be open every day during the event. (Open every day from March 24th to May 13th)

Where:
〒312-0012 Ibaraki Prefecture, Hitachinaka, Mawatari, Onuma 605−4
〒312-0012 茨城県ひたちなか市馬渡大沼605-4

Entry Fee:
Seniors (65 and above): ¥210
Adult (16 to 64): ¥450
Children (15 and under): free

Access:
By car: About 1km from Hitachinaka Road Hitachi Seaside Park IC, Joban Expressway and Kita-Kanto Expressway
By Train: About 15 minutes by bus from Katsuta Station on the JR Joban Line

Upcoming Events

122nd Annual Mito Plum Festival

1.umematsuri poster

~Celebrating 150th year from Meiji Restoration~

When: February 17th (Sat.) – March 31st (Sat.)

Where: Kairakuen and the Kodokan, Mito

Access via Public Transport

2.Kairakuen

Kairakuen: Take a bus heading to Kairakuen from Bus Stop 4 or 6 on the north side of Mito Station (see map here) http://www.koen.pref.ibaraki.jp/foreign_language/en/access_info/index.html

3.Kodokan

Kodokan: 8 minutes’ walk north of Mito Station (see map here) http://www.koen.pref.ibaraki.jp/park/kodokan06.html

 

Admission

Kairakuen: Free

Kodokan: Adults 200 yen, junior high school and younger 100 yen, over 70 free

Kobuntei: Adults 200 yen, junior high school and younger 100 yen, over 70 free

 

Opening Hours

Kairakuen: 6am – 7pm (7am to 6pm until February 19th)

Kobuntei: 9am – 5pm (9am – 4:30pm until February 19th)

Kodokan: 9am – 5pm (9am – 4:30pm until February 19th)

 

The Plum Blossoms of Kairakuen

Mito’s famous Plum Blossoms Festival dates back to more than 120 years ago. The main venue Kairakuen is one of the Three Great Gardens in Japan along with Korakuen of Okayama, and Kenrokuen of Kanazawa. During the Edo period, in July of 1842, the 9th lord of the Mito-clan opened Kairakuen as a public park for the local people to enjoy.

There are approximately 100 varieties of the plum tree growing in Kairakuen, and they all bloom at different times. Early blooming varieties (hayazaki) begin around mid-January to mid-February, mid-season blooming varieties (nakazaki) around early February to mid-March, and late blooming varieties (osozaki) around early March to early April. These times can vary every year though, depending on the climate.

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Of the 3000 plum trees in Kairakuen, only around half of them can be said to be of a particular variety (the other half being mixes of a number of varieties resulting in an unnamed variety). The most common among those with clear names is the Shirakaga variety, of which there are nearly 450 trees. The next most common is the Tōjibai, with 150 trees, followed by Yaekankō, with 130 trees.

 

Although the trees bloom roughly as described above, they are greatly affected by weather and precipitation, so it is not an exact timeline. This is why you should visit Kairakuen several times to stroll around the park and appreciate the many forms of the plum blossoms.

 

Early Blooming Varieties (Mid-January to Mid-February)

The Yaekankō, Shironaniwa, Yaetōji, and Rekkōbai varieties are representative of the early blooming plum tree varieties and can be found scattered around Kairakuen. In particular, the Yaekankō in the East-West Plum Forest near the East Gate and the Shironaniwa by the Onari Gate are well known and among the first to bloom. Searching for the few flowers that have blossomed among the majority that are still in their bud forms is one of the most enjoyable things to do during the early blooming season.

 

Mid-season Blooming Varieties (Early February to Mid-March)

The single-petaled Tsukikage with its distinctive silhouette and the soft and fluffy Tora-no-o are exemplary of the mid-season blooming varieties. They can be found scattered around the park in the Western Plum Forest and other locations, and are known for their fragrance and colour. It is when the mid-season varieties are in bloom that you can fully feel the coming of spring and enjoy the grand sight of many plum trees in full bloom.

 

Late Blooming Varieties (Early March to Early April)

The Shirakaga, Kasugano, and Kōnanshomu varieties are representative of late-blooming plum trees. In particular, Shirakaga trees can be seen all around the park. They bloom slowly and decorate the end of the plum blossom season. The end of the season is when you should savour the last of the blossoms before they are gone.

 

Events

 

Major Events

 

4th Annual National Umeshu (Plum wine) Festival in Mito

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When: March 2nd – 4th, 10am – 4pm (until 3pm on March 4th)

Admission: Early-bird 700, Standard 800, Fast-pass 1200

Where: Tokiwa Shrine area (Connected to the Kairakuen)

At the National Umeshu Festival, you will have the opportunity to sample and compare various kinds of umeshu from all over Japan. You can also enjoy the coupling of umeshu with a variety of dishes and umeshu cocktails.

 

Night Plum Festival

When&Where:

Kodokan  – Saturday, March 3rd, 6 – 9pm

Kairakuen – Saturday, March 10th, 6 – 9pm

The Night Plum Festival will feature candle displays, showing off the beauty of the plum trees in a different light. The festival finale will feature Mito fireworks.

Hanamaru Yūinroku ~Plum Flowers Dancing in Mito Base~

When: February 17th – March 25th

Where: Tokugawa Museum

Collaboration event with the Anime “Zoku Toukenranbu –Hanamaru-”

 

Kimono Dressing with Plum Blossom Viewing

When: March 4th 10:00 – 4:00

Where: Kairakuen Miharashi Square

You can experience a dressing up in Kimono while taking a pleasant walk in the park. Rental of Kimono is available on the day. A photo contest and a workshop where you can try on Yūkitsumugi will take place at the same time.

Plum Blossom Viewing Day

When: Every Sunday from Feb. 18th – March 25th

Where: Kairakuen Miharashi Square

Every Sunday is a Plum Viewing Day, there will be tea ceremonies, and performances around the area of Miharashi Square.

 

 

Other Events

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Goken Kōbai Hina-nagashi (Five Town Community)

When: March 3rd, 11am – 12pm

Where: Kairakuen, under the Togyokusen Spring

 

Biwa (Japanese Flute) Performance

When: March 3rd, 11:30 am– 12pm

Where: Kodokan Seicho

 

Kairakuen Trail of Light

When: March 2nd – 21st from sunset to 9:00pm

Where: Kairakuen

The open hours of Kairakuen will be extended, you can enjoy a dreamy walk as the plum blossoms are lit up in the dark.

 

Ikebana Exhibition in Kobuntei

When: Feb 24th, 25th (Traditional Style of Kinjo)

March 3rd, 4th (Style of Kageiadachi)

March 17th, 18th (Style of Ikenobo)

Where: Inside Kobuntei, Oza Room, Plum-Flower Room and Rakujuro

 

Tour Shuttle Bus “Man-yu Bus”

When: Feb 24th, 25th, March 3rd, 4th

Route: Sukesan (White)

Kairakuen Parking lot (in front of JR Kairakuen Station)→ Keisei Department Store → Kodokan→ Mito Art Tower → Ibaraki Prefectural Museum of History → Tokugawa Museum → Kairakuen Parking lot

Kakusan (Red)

Kairakuen Parking lot (in front of JR Kairakuen Station) → The Museum of Modern Art, Ibaraki → Mito Botanical Park → Tokugawa Museum → Kairakuen Parking lot

Time Schedule

Sukesan (White)

Station 1st Bus 2nd Bus 3rd Bus 4th Bus 5th Bus 6th Bus
Kairakuen (departure) 9:00 10:30 12:00 13:30 15:00 16:30
Keisei Department Store 9:10 10:40 12:10 13:40 15:10 16:40
Kodokan 9:20 10:50 12:20 13:50 15:20 16:50
Mito Art Tower 9:30 11:00 12:30 14:00 15:30 17:00
Museum of History 9:40 11:10 12:40 14:10 15:40 17:10
Tokugawa Museum 9:50 11:20 12:50 14:20 15:50 17:20
Kairakuen (arrival) 10:00 11:30 13:00 14:30 16:00 17:30

 

Kakusan (Red)

Station 1st Bus 2nd Bus 3rd Bus 4th Bus 5th Bus
Kairakuen (departure) 10:00 11:40 13:20 15:00 16:40
Museum of Modern Art 10:20 12:00 13:40 15:20 17:00
Mito Botanical Park 10:40 12:20 14:00 15:40 17:20
Tokugawa Museum 11:00 12:40 14:20 16:00 17:40
Kairakuen (arrival) 10:10 12:50 14:30 16:10 17:50

*Schedule times are subject to change and are subject to traffic.

 

 

Upcoming Events

IROHA of Japanese Swords Exhibition

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Let’s indulge in the art of Japanese swords by learning the basic knowledge from some of the most famous swords in Japan.

Period: August 8th ~ September 24th
Tuesday ~ Sunday 9:30 17:00 (Admission until 16:30)
Mondays Closed (Except for September 18th)
September 19th Closed
Location: Ibaraki Prefectural Museum of History


Admission Fee: Regular =¥150
University Students =¥80
High school Students and younger (18- )/Seniors (70+) Free

Direction:

  • From JR Joban Line, North Exit of Mito Station, take the bus heading to Kaikaruen-Park from bus platform #4, get off at Rekishikan Kairakuen Iriguchi (History Museum, Kairakuen Entrance) and walk for 2 minutes.
  • From Joban Expressway exit at Mito IC, proceed 7 km for 15 minutes.

About the Exhibition:
Japanese Swords, katana, have been getting more attention recently in popular culture. However, the terminology associated with the Japanese swords can be extremely confusing. When we examine a Japanese sword, what should we be looking at and how should we appreciate its beauty?
This exhibition seeks to explain the variety and evolution of the figure, surface, blade pattern and the exterior of Japanese katana through presenting the museum’s very own Japanese sword collection. Works of Ibaraki swordsmith and blacksmith are also presented in the exhibition. Through very simple explanation, the display introduces the beauty behind the history of the Japanese sword, and the ways to examine the swords. We invite all of you who are interested to learn more about Japanese katana to join us in this wonderful exhibition.

Inquiry: 029-225-4425

One Day in Ibaraki

From Iwase to Itako – Exploring Ibaraki on the Tsukuba Kasumigaura Ring Ring Road

View of Mt. Tsukuba

The Tsukuba Ring Ring Road is well-known cycling track in the west of Ibaraki. It was once the Tsukuba Railway, which was discontinued in 1987 and eventually turned into a scenic cycling track stretching 40km from Iwase Station to Tsuchiura Station. Recently it was extended to join the road around Lake Kasumigaura and form the 180km Tsukuba Kasumigaura Ring Ring Road. With the extension of the cycling course, the Ibaraki Prefectural Government has teamed up with seven municipalities around Lake Kasumigaura (Tsuchiura, Ishioka, Tsukuba, Itako, Kasumigaura, Sakuragawa, and Namegata) to set up a bicycle rental system allowing you to rent bikes from one of seven locations and return them to any of the other locations. We rented cross bikes and cycled one of the most popular sections of the course – the old railway track.

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We set out from Iwase Station at around 10am. We were immediately given a preview of the scenery we would enjoy along the way – rolling fields, spring flowers, and distant mountains. Not long in we discovered an optional side trip of about 3km up to Amabiki Kanon Temple http://www.amabiki.or.jp/ – unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go the whole way, but if you want an extra challenge (the roads are quite steep) and are keen to see one of the most scenic temples in Ibaraki, this is definitely an accomplishable sidetrack from the main path. The road is marked quite clearly with signs so with the help of a map you shouldn’t have much difficulty finding it.

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Our first stop was in the Makabe Rest Area. The Ring Ring Road is punctuated by six rest areas between Iwase and Tsuchiura that were once stations on the Tsukuba Railway. Now they have seats, bathrooms, and some have pumps for your bike tires. When we reached the Makabe Rest Area we departed from the road once again to cycle through the old streets of Makabe, a castle town that was planned in the Sengoku period and completed in the Edo period. 99 buildings around the town have been designated as National Registered Cultural Properties. The town is renowned for its Hinamatsuri doll displays in February and March. There is a café called Hashimoto Coffee where you can drop in for a cuppa – unfortunately, it is closed on Tuesdays, which is the day we visited.

 

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As we continued along our path we drew closer and closer to Mt. Tsukuba. When we reached the Mt. Tsukuba Rest Area, we decided to veer off the track again in search of somewhere to eat and we found Maruchu, a soba restaurant. The food was delicious so I would definitely recommend it for lunch, but take care as the location of the store is not exactly where it says it is on google maps. If you head toward the google maps pin but turn left when you reach the street with a Lawson you will find it on the right side of the street.

 

After lunch, we powered along until we got to Tsuchiura. When we arrived in the city, we ventured off toward Lake Kasumigaura. Once you arrive at the lakeside you are treated to a beautiful view of the water. If you continue around the lake you have the option of visiting the Lake Kasumigaura Environmental Science Center, a museum and research centre on the northwestern side of the lake. Inside are a number of exhibits introducing the flora. fauna, and history around Lake Kasumigaura.

Finally, we headed back toward central Tsuchiura to return our bikes and have a well-earned ice cream before catching the train back to Mito. We explored just one section of the cycling path – there are many more recommended courses to check out. Whether you want a relaxed 10km course or a more intense 80km one (you could do the whole 180km if you’re up to it!), this well-serviced cycling course has something for everyone. Check out the information below and start planning your own adventure!

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Bicycle Rental

Time: 9am – 4pm
Cost:
Road Bike: 2000 yen
Cross Bike/Mini Velo: 1500 yen
Child’s Bike: 500 yen

Recommended Courses

1. 80km Course
JR Iwase Station – JR Itako Station (approx. 6 hours)
2. 50km Course
JR Tsuchiura Station – JR Itako Station (approx. 4 hours)
3. 40km Course
JR Iwase Station – JR Tsuchiura Station (approx. 3 hours)
JR Iwase Station – TX Tsukuba Station (approx. 3 hours)
4. 10km Course
Explore the cutting edge technological city of Tsukuba and the historical city of Tsuchiura! TX Tsukuba Station – JR Tsuchiura Station (approx. 1 hour)
Websites
Tsukuba Kasumigaura Ring Ring Cycling Road Official Website http://www.rinrin-road.com/
Ibaraki Guide to the Tsukuba Kasumigaura Ring Ring Road (you can watch videos of the course and download maps!) http://www.ibarakiguide.jp/seasons/ring-ring-road.html

Locations to Pick up and Drop off Bikes

The hours listed refer to the opening hours of the facilities – pick up and drop off of bikes can be done every day between 9am – 4pm.

Sakuragawa
Iwase Station Square Takasago Ryokan
Hours: 9am -4pm (Closed during Obon and New Year’s)
Address: 174 Iwase, Sakuragawa
PH: 0296-75-2165

Tsuchiura
Lacus Marina
Hours: 9am – 5pm (closed Wednesdays from December – March)
Address: 2-13-6 Kawaguchi, Tsuchiura
PH: 0298-22-2437

Tsuchiura Machikado Kura Daitoku
Hours: 9am – 6pm (Closed on New Years Holiday)
Address: 1-3-16 Chuo, Tsuchiura
PH: 029-8242810

Ishioka
Nakamura Parking Lot
Hours: 8:30am – 5:15pm (closed weekends and public holidays)
Address: 425 Kitanemoto, Ishioka
PH: 0299-23-3399 (Ishioka Chiho Koiki Silver Jinzai Center)

Tsukuba
Tsukuba General Information Center
Hours: 8:30am – 6:30pm every day
Address: BiVi Tsukuba 1st Floor, 1-8-10 Azuma, Tsukuba
PH: 0298-79-5298

Kasumigaura
Hours: 9am – 5pm (closed Mondays except public holidays in which case it will be closed the following Tuesday)
Address: 4784 Saka, Kasumigaura
PH: 0298-40-9010

Namegata
Lake Kasumigaura Fureai Land
Hours: 9:30am – 4:30pm (closed Mondays except public holidays in which case it will be closed the following Tuesday. Closed over New Year’s)
Address: 1234 Tamatsukurikou, Namegata
PH: 0299-55-3927

Itako
Suigo Itako Tourism Association
Hours: 9am – 5pm every day
Address: 1-1-16 Ayame, Itako
PH: 0299-63-3154

How to Make a Booking

Note: If possible, please make reservations in Japanese. If you wish to book in English, please fax or email the information.

You must book three days in advance. Same day reservations will not be accepted unless there are extra bicycles available. Please note that Nakamura Parking Lot in Ishioka is reservation-only. Call, fax, or email the Lacus Marina Support Desk (details below) with the following information:

1. 氏名(グループの代表者。以下2~3同様)
Name (if you are a group, the name of one person in the group. Use the same person’s information for 2 and 3):
2. 住所及び郵便番号
Address (including post code):
3. 連絡先(携帯番号)
Contact Information (mobile phone):
4. ご利用日
Date of reservation:
5. 貸出施設及び予定時刻
Location and time you would like to collect the bikes:
6. 返却施設及び予定時刻
Location and time you will return the bikes:
7. 利用車種(台数)・ロードバイク( 台)・クロスバイク( 台)・ミニベロ( 台)
Type and number of bike(s):
Road Bike (Number of bikes you wish to reserve: )
Cross Bike (Number of bikes you wish to reserve: )
Mini Velo (Number of bikes you wish to reserve: )

There are a limited number of bikes available, so Lacus Marina will contact you to let you know if they can cater to your request after they receive it. Bikes can only be rented on a daily basis – you cannot keep them overnight.

On the day, pick up your bikes from the facility you designated. Make sure to bring some form of ID. You can also borrow a helmet free of charge (either child size, L, or M), but please understand if your size is unavailable.

Please return the bikes to the facility you designated by the time you designated.

Cancellations: Please contact the Support Desk by 4pm the day before your booking if you wish to cancel. If you are more than an hour late to pick up your bikes, your booking will be cancelled.

Caution

  • The bicycles all have a TS Mark sticker, insuring the rider with personal accident insurance and liability insurance
  • The bikes are not insured for theft or damage. If you leave the bike at any point make sure that you lock it
  • If you lose or damage the bike’s attachments (e.g. light), helmet, or key, or if they are stolen, you will have to pay for their replacement
  • Responsibility for accidents or theft that were not caused by the actions of the organisers will not be taken by the organisers
  • Please obey the traffic laws and cycling manners, and cycle safely
  • Please ensure that the tires, breaks, and gears are working correctly before you leave
  • If you are in an accident or if you have any trouble such as your bike breaking down, please call the Support Desk

Lacus Marina Cycling Support Desk
Hours: 9am – 5pm
Address: 2-13-6 Kawaguchi, Tsuchiura
PH: 0298-22-2437
FAX: 0298-26-2839
Email: info.cycle@lacusmarina.com
Website: http://www.lacusmarina.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lacusmarina.ibaraki

Upcoming Events

Ibaraki Botanical Garden Spring Festival

When: 9am – 4:30pm, May 3 – 7
Where: Ibaraki Botanical Garden (4589 To, Naka, Ibaraki)
Admission: Adults 300 yen, junior high school and younger and those over 70 free
Access: 10 minutes by taxi from Urizura Station on the JR Suigun Line
Website

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There are plenty of things to see and do at this five day festival! Plants, agricultural products, handicrafts, and food and drink will also be on sale in the gardens.

Events

Calanthe Orchid Exhibition (May 3 – 3pm May 6)
Mensore Okinawa Exhibition (April 22 – May 7)
Forest Concert (May 3 – 7, cancelled in poor weather)
Flower Seedling Present (First 200 people, 9am~, May 3 – May 7)
Forest Handicraft Square (200 yen, 10am – 2pm, May 3 – 7)
Wall Hanging Mini Shisa (Okinawa Lion Statue) Painting Workshop (200 yen, May 3 – May 7)
Coaster Making Workshop (10am – 3:30pm, May 3 – May 7)
Olden Day Games (10am – 3:30pm, May 3 – May 7)
Tropical Plant Quiz – First 200 people to answer correctly get a balloon yoyo (10am – 3:30pm, May 3 – May 7)
Spring Festival Workshop –moss terrarium, handicrafts using herbs, group planting, bread clay (500 yen, 9am, May 7)
Meet a Bird of Prey (1:30pm, May 3)

Upcoming Events

28th Annual Ryujin Gorge Carp Streamer Festival

When: April 29th (Sat.) to May 14th (Sun.)
Where: Ryujin Big Suspension Bridge
2133-6 Keganochō, Hitachiōta-shi, Ibaraki-ken 313-0351

Surrounded by dazzling green trees and with Ryujin Big Suspension Bridge in the center, about 1,000 carp streamers.

Price to cross the bridge:
Individual: ¥310 for adults, ¥210 for Elementary and Middle School Kids
Group of 30 people and up: ¥280 for adults, ¥190 for Elemetary and Middle School Kids
Free for elementary school kids on Children’s Day. (May 5th, Fri.)

Access:
By Car: About 40 minutes from the Hitachi Minami Ota IC and Naka IC of the Joban Expressway.
By Train: About 40 minutes by bus from Hitachi-Ota Station on the JR Suigun Line. Get off the bus at Ryujin Big Suspension Bridge Bus Stop (Ryujinotsuribashi).

 

Upcoming Events

36th Annual Kasama Himatsuri

When: April 29 – May 5, 9am – 5pm
Where: Kasama Geijutsu no Mori Park Event Square, Kasama (2345 Kasama)
Website

20170429_himatsuri

Head to Kasama during Golden Week for a pottery festival where over 200 ceramic artists, potteries, and local stores will gather in the beautiful Geijutsu no Mori Park to welcome customers to their stalls to see and buy their unique wares. The food and drink stalls are run by ceramic artists, and you will be able to enjoy a variety of unique dishes made using ceramic ware. There will also be a number of events, including a clay mask auction, a clay mask festival run by elementary school students, and a playground. Check out the PR video here.

Access

Bus Schedule

Kasama Station ⇔ Kasama Togei Daigakkou (5 mins walk from venue))
April 29, 30, May 3, 4, 5, Every 30 mins between 8:30am – 3pm from Kasama Station and 8:45 – 5pm from Kasama Togei Daigakkou.
Adults 100 yen, Children 50 yen

Weekday Bus (for May 1-2) (Kasama Station ⇔ Himatsuri Venue North Gate)
170 yen

Tomobe Station → Kasama Himatsuri Venue East Gate
April 29, 30 May 4, 5: Every 15 mins between 8:50am and 3pm
May 1-2: Every 30 mins between 8:50am and 3pm
May 3: Every 15 mins between 8:50am and 4:30pm
100 yen

Kasama Himatsuri Venue→Tomobe Station
April 29, 30 May 4, 5: Every 15 mins between 9:05am and 5:10pm
May 1-2: Every 30 mins between 9:05am and 5:10pm
May 3: Every 15 mins between 9:05am and 8:30pm (every 60-80 mins after 5:10pm)
100 yen

Events

Every Day

Coffee Cup Exhibition
Exhibition & Sale of Sake Cups & Cup Bags
Outdoor Tea Ceremony (choose your own cup)
Exhibition & Sale of Kasama Heat-Resistant Tableware & Pans
Inada Festival
Kids’ Land (Face painting, clay workshop, potter wheel experience, children’s play etc.)
Clay Mask Festival & Auction

Limited Time Events

Jazz Night
When: 6pm onwards, May 3rd
Where: Central Stage
Performers: B Train Jazz Orcherstra feat. Akiko Nakano, Akiko Nakajima Himatsuri Special Session

NEVA GIVE UP Live Performance
When: 3 – 4pm, May 4th
Where: Central Stage

Twilight Live
When: 4pm onwards, May 5th
Where: Central Stage
Performers: Aideko Shinya with DoDo, Torihai, Dodoittsu

Forest Stage Acoustic Live Performances

When: 1pm onwards, May 1 – 5
Where: Forest Stage
Performers:
May 1: Doremi Gakudan, Kasamaharo Acda#coda
May 2: Old Mountain Boys
May 3: yorry&salt, Lilly, Nakano Hiroki to Suteki na Henteko Dan
May 4: Moonshine, Lemon Head, Baby Factory, Sunny Mamas
May 5: Halo, Mikazuki Settodan

Upcoming Events

Nemophila Harmony

When: 9:30am – 5pm, April 22 – May 14 (7:30am – 5pm from April 29 – May 8)
Where: Hitachi Seaside Park (605-4 Onuma, Mawatari, Hitachinaka)
Video

20170422_nemophila

Spring is in full swing at Hitachi Seaside Park! Until April 21st, you can visit to see the tulips. Then, from April 22nd to May 14th, you can see the park’s famous nemophila flowers (also known as baby blue-eyes) covering 3.5 hectares on Miharashi Hill, creating an ethereal panorama of blue sky, blue sea, and blue flowers.

Nemophila are annuals that bloom from April to May. The nemophila used in Hitachi Seaside Park are of the Insignis Blue variety. Whilst they are in bloom until mid-May, after they blossom they begin to pale, so the best time to see them is during Golden Week.

Every year tens of thousands of people visit Hitachi Seaside Park to admire this rare sight. If there’s one thing you should see while you are in Ibaraki, it’s this!

Details

Admission
Adults (15+) – 410 yen
Seniors (65+) – 210 yen
Children (Elementary and Junior High School) – 80 yen
Infants (Under 6) – Free
*Free admission for elementary and junior high schoolers on May 5 and everyone on May 14

Access
20 minutes by foot from Ajigaura Station on the Hitachinaka Seaside Railway or 15 minutes by bus from JR Katsuta Station

Upcoming Events

Hitachi Oktoberfest 2017

When: April 26 – May 7 (Weekdays 3 – 9pm, Weekends & Public Holidays 12 – 9pm, Last Order 8:30pm)
Where: Shin Toshi Hiroba, Hitachi Civic Center (1-21-1 Saiwaicho, Hitachi)
Access: 3 minutes’ walk from Hitachi Station Chuo Exit
Admission: Free

20170426_oktoberfest
Oktoberfest is a German harvest festival that has been held in Munich since 1810. In the two weeks of the festival approximately 6.5 million people attend and 6 million cups of beer are consumed, leading the festival to be known as the world’s largest food festival. Around 10 years ago celebrations of the festival began to pop up around Japan, and it has been gaining popularity ever since.

At Hitachi Oktoberfest 2017 you can enjoy delicious local foods and German beer in the oceanside city of Hitachi as local musicians and performers provide entertainment. In order to reduce waste and broken glasses, you will be charged a 1000 yen glass fee with your first glass of beer, which will be returned to you when you return your glass. You can continue to use the same glass for refills.

There will be no parking available, so you are encouraged to come to the event by public transport.