Water for the People

One of Mito’s landmark attractions is the beautiful Lake Senba, a part of the famous Kairakuen Park. Though it is a man-made lake, this has allowed the city to incorporate many attractive features that make it a mainstay of life for many residents, and there are several different facets to enjoy at any given time.

The most oft-used and commonly known feature is of course the footpath. Divided in half to cater to both walkers/joggers and cyclists, the footpath encircles the entire lake at close proximity, and is marked in metres for those who like to measure their workouts. In fact, the entire circumference is a round 3 kilometers, perfect for a relaxing stroll or an invigorating run.

Meanwhile, the original design of the lake itself was based upon the famous West Lake of Hangzhou. Admiring the beauty of the imperial retreat, Lake Senba’s architects made sure to copy the most defining features in order to give the same feel to local residents. Elegantly swaying weeping willows frame the shoreline, with a small canal alongside the northern part of the lake to give the walkway an isolated, floating sensation.

For those who like to enjoy culture, the lake is conveniently located beside the Modern Museum of Art and the Prefectural Cultural Center. However, a recent addition is the film set for the movie ‘The Sakurada Gate Incident’, which is open to the public for a nominal fee. The set itself is designed to resemble the Edo period, specifically the location of an assassination, and sometimes even has extras in period costume available for photos.

Of course, you could always rent a rowboat or swanboat and paddle out into the middle of the lake to get a different perspective, an especially romantic proposition in the spring when the nearby Kairakuen’s plum or cherry blossoms are in full bloom and the air is still fresh.

At night the lake’s many fountains light up in various colors, making it a pleasant place for an after dinner stroll and giving a lovely view from the nearby Senba Bridge. This is also when the lake’s many waterfowl bed down for the night, for those who prefer to enjoy the lake without accompaniment from the swans, both black and white, ducks, and seagulls.

Finally, if you’re in more of an indoors mood, there is the Kobun Café. Right on the western shore of the lake, this modern-styled café offers great views out of its open-design windows all year round. The prices are reasonable too, with a full lunch set coming in at only 780 yen, quite filling for such delicious fare. Plus, they even have pastries in the shape of the swans, vanilla for white and black sesame for black.

Lake Senba has a beauty that changes with the seasons, but has much more to offer than just aesthetics. What it lacks in natural origins it more than makes up for in convenience and added value; it is, in a sense, everyone’s lake.

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