15th Annual Mt. Tsukuba Summit Katakuri Flower Festival

When: April 1 – April 20
Where: Mt. Tsukuba Summit, Tsukuba

20150401 15th Annual Mt Tsukuba Katakuri Flower Festival

Around 30 thousand katakuri plants grow wildly around the summit of Mt. Tsukuba. During the festival the 2 hectare katakuri wood will be open to the public.  There are also katakuri on the Shizen Kenkyu Hiking Course around Mt. Tsukuba’s Nantai peak. Please be aware, however, that picking flowers and plants without special permission on Mt. Tsukuba is illegal, and will incur a fine.

Events
Mt. Tsukuba Shrine Spring Oza-kawari Festival (April 1)
9:30am-4pm Goshinkyo (Sacred Bridge) is open to the public to cross
9:30 Nantai Peak Main Shrine Kanmiso Festival (Nantai Peak Summit)
10:30 Nyotai Peak Main Shrine Kanmiso Festival (Nyotai Peak Summit)
2:30 Sake Greeting Rite (Tsukuba 6 Chome), Portable Shrine Parade and Children’s Parade (Okariya at the foot of Mt. Tsukuba)
Gama no Aburauri Performance (April 4, 11, 18)
Free Katakuri Manju (April 4)
Free Kusa Mochi (April 11)
Mt. Tsukuba Shrine Visit and Stroll Through the Katakuri (April 11)
Admission is free but limited to 80 people. Start from TX Tsukuba Station. To participate call 029-866-0611 (Japanese only)
Mt. Tsukuba Spring Hike (April 14)
Admission is free but limited to 100 people. Start from Mt. Tsukuba Tourism Office ( 筑波山観光案内所, 1222 Tsukuba, Tsukuba). To participate call 029-866-0611 (Japanese only)
Game Tournament (April 18)

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23rd Annual Katakuri Festival

When: 9am – 4pm, April 1 – April 15
Where: Katakuri no Sato (2053-2 Ariga-cho, Mito)

Katakuri (Erythronium japonicum) is a spring ephemeral flower than blooms in April in Japan. Katakuri no Sato is a 2000 square metre field of katakuri flowers located in the north of Ariga-cho in Mito. Katakuri typically bloom in woodland areas away from human settlements, so there are few places where they can be seen so close to the city. Throughout the festival you can appreciate the delicate purple blossoms and buy local food and crafts.

2015 Cherry Blossom Festivals Part 2

Hanami season has arrived! Make sure you get to at least one of these events to appreciate the beauty of the cherry blossoms!

Suigou Itako Mt. Gongen Park Cherry Blossom Festival

When: March 29 – April 12
Where: Mt. Gongen Park, Itako

09 Itako

Mt. Gongen is a popular cherry blossom viewing area, and throughout the festival there will be illuminations in the evenings until 10pm. On April 4 there will be a huge variety of things to do and see, including free amazake, food stalls, an autograph session by members of the Kashima Antlers soccer team, and a yosakoi dance performance.

24th Annual Kashima Cherry Blossom Festival

When: March 28 – April 12
Where: Kashima Shiroyama Park, Kashima

10 Kashima

At Kashima Shiroyama Park you can enjoy over 300 cherry blossom trees of a number of different varieties. Throughout the festival there will be illuminations in the evening until 9pm and stalls selling food and drink.

Events
April 4 10:30 and 11:30 am – Folk song and dance by Kashima residents
April 5 – Cherry Blossom Walk Kashima Kami no Michi
*Register at 9am in front of the Kashima Shoukokai (commerce and industry)
building (1-34 Miyanaka 2 chome, Kashima)
April 12 10am-12pm – Taisho Koto Performance

14th Annual Takahagi Cherry Blossom Festival

When: April 4 – April 19
Where: Sakura Uchuu Park (Takahagi Eisei Tsuushin Kinen Park), Takahagi

11 Takahagi

Events
April 11 10am-3pm – Outdoor tea ceremony, koto performance, etc.
9:30am-12pm – Three Generations Sports Festival
April 19 11am-3pm – Ibaraki University Center for Astronomy Public Observatory

Cherry Blossom Spring Festival

When: April 4 – April 12
Where: Nishiyama no Sato Tougen (Shinjuku-machi), Hitachiota

12 Hitachiota

Events
Weekends
Free amazake, lolly lottery for kids
April 5
2-2:30pm – Performance by Hidaka Mari & Nabatame Kyoko (Oboe & Piano)
April 12
1:30-2pm – True or False Quiz (prizes for winners)
2-2:30pm – Performance by Lilly (Singer/Songwriter)

2015 Cherry Blossom Festivals

Hanami season has arrived! Make sure you get to at least one of these events to appreciate the beauty of the cherry blossoms!

Tsuchiura Cherry Blossom Festival

When: March 21 – April 12
Where: Kijo Park, Old Mall Waterfall, Ottonuma Park, Sakuragawa River banks, Shingawa River banks, Manabe Elementary School, Komachi Hall, Ryugamine, and other locations around Tsuchiura

Decorations
Paper Lanterns – Kijo Park, Sakuragawa River banks, Ottonuma Park, Hasukawara
Illuminations – Kijo Park, City Hall

Events

All Locations
March 28 – April 5 – Town Cherry Blossom Shuttle Bus
April 5 – Hike from Tsuchiura Station
Kijo Park
April 5, 10:30am – 4pm – Outdoor Tea Ceremony, Tsuchiura Three Piece Band Performance, Pony Rides, Spring Curry Fair, Stage Events
Old Mall Waterfall
April 5, 11am onward – Shuriken Squad Nin Ninja Show, Local Idol Performance, Dance Performance, Motor Show, Tricycle Rides, Street Card Magic, Catering Cars
Sakuragawa River Banks
March 21 – April 12 – Illuminations
March 28 – April 5 (weekends only) 10am – 4pm – Hanami River Cruise (six boats a day), Sakuragawa River Shuttle Bus
April 4 – Hanami Dragon Boat
*To book or inquire contact Rakusu Marina 029-822-2437 (Japanese only)
Shingawa River Banks
March 21 – April 4 – Lanterns (Tatsuta-machi, Manabe 1 Chome, Manabe 2 Chome
Niihari
April 5, 12:30pm – 3pm – Yabusame Festival (Hieda Shrine) (buses in operation from Kijo Park)
Hasukawara Cherry Blossom Festival
March 21 – April 12 – Lanterns
April 4-5 – Pedestrian Heaven
Ottonuma Park Cherry Blossom Festival
March 21 – April 12 – Lanterns
April 5, 10am – Cherry Blossom Karaoke, Free Amazake
Manabe Cherry Blossom Festival
April 4, 2-4pm – Manabe Orchestra, Paper Puppet Show, Taisho Koto Performance, Fire Truck, Free Lemon Water, Barley Tea, Cherry Blossom Tea, Cherry Blossom Mochi Making
6-9pm – Illuminations
6-8pm – Taiko, Piano, Free Cherry Blossom Tea and Cherry Blossom Mochi
April 3, 5, 6-9pm – Illuminations
Other Events
April 4 – Ikebana Exhibitions (Kijo Plaza and the Tsuchiura/Ishioka Area)
April 4-5 – Kyudo Tournament (Budokan)
April 5 – Tsuchiura Hanami Walk (Tsuchiura)
April 5, 10am – 3pm – Lake Kasumigaura Duck Tour One Year Anniversary Event

44th Annual Shimotsuma Sanuma Marsh Cherry Blossom Festival

When: March 29 – April 12
Where: Sanuma Marsh, Shimotsuma

Enjoy illuminations in the evening from sunset till 9pm. On April 5th there will be a one day event from 9:30am till 3pm packed with attractions, from stalls selling food, drink, and local products to karaoke, a bingo contest, kids’ races, Taiko performances, and much, much more.

Mt. Atago Cherry Blossom Festival

When: Late March – Early May
Where: Mt. Atago Main Car Park, Kasama City

Enjoy around 2000 blooming cherry blossom trees at Mt. Atago, famous for its Tengu legend. The cherry blossoms are in bloom later here due to the difference in elevation.

53rd Annual Hitachi Cherry Blossom Festival

When: April 1 – 19
Where: Heiwa doori/Kamine Park/Juuou Panorama Park, Hitachi City

Illuminations
Heiwa Doori: 6 – 11pm
Kamine Park: 6 – 9:30pm
Juuou Panorama Park: 6 – 9pm

Events on Heiwa Doori
April 3 – Night Cherry Blossom Pedestrian Heaven (6-9pm)
April 4 – Hitachi Furyumono (Intangible Cultural Heritage) (1, 4, 7pm), Taiko Performance, food and craft stalls, hanami tea
April 5 – Hitachi no Sasara (traditional lion dance from Hitachi) (12, 2pm), Hitachi Furyumono (1, 3pm), Mikoshi Parade, Taiko Performance, food and craft stalls, hanami tea, ladder-top kite performance
April 6 – Hitachi Furyumono (1, 3pm), Cherry Blossom Road Race
April 10 – Night Cherry Blossom Pedestrian Heaven (6-9pm)
April 12 –Hanami, Hitachi Style Gourmet Event

26th Annual Kamisu Cherry Blossom Festival

When: April 1 – 15
Where: Gonoike Park, Kamisu City
Access: 20 minutes from the Itako IC on the Higashikanto Expressway by car, 20 minutes by taxi from JR Kashima-Jingu Station

Head to Gonoike Park to enjoy the blooming of 3000 cherry blossom trees. There will be lanterns in the evening from 6-9:30pm, allowing you to see the cherry blossoms in a different light. On April 4-5th there will be play equipment set up for kids to play on, and on April 5th there will be a Yosakoi performance. There will also be putt-putt golf, jogging, and bird watching for visitors.

6th Annual Tatsunokuchi Cherry Blossom Festival

When: April 3 – 12
Where: Tatsunokuchi Shinsui Park, Hitachiomiya City

Enjoy 1.3km of Japanese lanterns among the cherry blossoms. They will be lit in the evening.

Illuminations
Sunset – 8:30pm

Events
April 11 – Fireworks Display (7-7:30pm)
Illuminations will be cancelled if it rains. The fireworks display will occur the following day if it rains.

Fukuoka Dam Cherry Blossom Festival

When: April 3 – 7
Where: Fukuoka Dam Sakura Park, Tsukuba Mirai City
Access: Free shuttle bus from TX Miraidaira Station during the festival, or 15 minutes by car from the Yawara IC or the Yatabe IC on the Joban Expressway

Walk along 1.8km of 550 cherry blossom trees lining the Kokaigawa River.

Events
April 5-6, 10am – 3pm, Sakura Namiki Chuo Park
Live performances from local stars, Yosakoi performances, amateur performances, and stalls selling food, drink, and local products.

6th Annual Bando Cherry Blossom Festival

When: April 4-5, 10am – 4pm
Where: Yasaka Park Athletic Field/Sakasai Castle Park, Bando City

Mt. Tsukuba Plum Festival

Although cherry blossoms are considered to be quintessentially Japanese, plum blossoms, their lesser known cousins, are also the heralds of spring in many parts of Japan, their fragrant flowers of pink, red, and white blooming in late winter and filling the hearts of locals with hope for an end to the chill. Ibaraki in particular has a strong relationship with plum blossoms. Around 3000 trees of 100 different varieties of plum blossom trees fill Kairakuen, one of Japan’s three most famous parks, located in Mito.

1

While cherry blossom festivals are decidedly more numerous, there are also a number of local festivals from late February to mid-March that celebrate the annual appearance of the plum blossoms. One such festival is the Mt. Tsukuba Plum Festival. Held annually in the Plum Forest (bairin), which sits around 250m above sea level on the slopes of the mountain. Far above the city and away from the constant background bustle of people and traffic, this festival offers attendees a rare view of the Kanto Plain through branches peppered with soft petals of pink and white. When we visited the festival in mid-March, we were blessed with a beautiful sunny morning, allowing us to appreciate the contrast of the pale petals against a brilliant blue sky.

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There are a number of paths winding through the trees, so you can take a leisurely stroll through to appreciate the blossoms (pausing for pictures of course). A small stream flows down the mountain through the forest, and during the festival it fills with fallen petals. The same petals flutter through the air and form a pink and white carpet upon the forest floor, creating an atmosphere that is truly ethereal.

3

Upon climbing to the upper reaches of the forest, you will find an observation deck, which provides a breathtaking view of the whole forest and the city of Tsukuba below. On a clear day you can see Tokyo, and sometimes even as far as Mt. Fuji.

4

During the festival, the road is lined with food stalls selling local products, including many plum-themed snacks such as plum youkan (sweet jellied azuki bean paste) and plum-flavoured soft serve. Beside the forest there is a small building where you can escape the seasonal chill and enjoy complimentary cups of tea. For something a little more substantial, the Omotenashi building that sits just below the forest serves as a rest area where visitors can warm up with steaming bowls of rice miso soup and hot drinks.

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Just outside the Omotenashi building is a stage set up for the duration of the festival where visitors can see a number of shows, including one by a gama no aburauri, a spruiker from the Edo Period who would give lively performances in order to sell bulrush oil, a local cure-all. From swordsmanship to silly puns, this short routine has got it all, and is worth checking out. On weekends there are also several additional folk entertainment performances.

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This unique festival is definitely worth a visit, and can easily be made into a great day trip if you add in a climb to Mt. Tsukuba’s summit, a visit to the Mt. Tsukuba shrine, and a dip in one of the numerous nearby onsen facilities. You could even stay overnight in one of the fantastic local inns. If you are looking for something to do in late February or March, look no further!

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Mt. Tsukuba Plum Festival

When: Dates vary each year, usually begins around February 20th and ends in the last weekend of March
Where: Mt. Tsukuba Plum Forest
Website: http://umematsuri.jp/

Access

By Public Transport
Take the Mt. Tsukuba Shuttle Bus from Tsukuba Station and get off at Tsukuba Jinja Iriguchi (roughly 40 minutes). It is a short walk from there to the Plum Forest.

By Car*
From the Tsuchiura Kita IC on the Joban Expressway: Around 20km along National Route 125 in the direction of Shimotsuma and Mt. Tsukuba
From the Sakuragawa Chikusei IC on the Joban Expressway: Take National Route 50 then it is around 20km along Prefectural Route 41 toward Mt. Tsukuba

Parking
There are five parking lots: Parking Lots 1-4, which are managed by the City of Tsukuba, and Tsutsujigaoka Parking Lot, which is managed by the Prefectural Government. Parking Lot 1 is the closest to the Plum Forest where the festival is being held.

*As the roads and parking lots tend to be crowded during the festival, it is recommended that you take public transport.

Craft and Food Fair in Kasama

When: March 21-23
Where: Kirarakan Square (2258-1 Kasama, Kasama-shi)

At the Craft and Food Fair in Kasama, select artists and food sellers from around the country will staff stalls selling their products to visitors.

In the craft section there will be artists from as far south as Yamaguchi and as far north as Iwate selling their wooden, metal, leather, ceramic, glass, fabric, and knitted wares (and likely many more). The artists themselves will staff the stalls, displaying and selling their artworks and making things on customer request. In the food section, there will be 30 stalls run by famous food sellers, from within and outside of Ibaraki, ready to satisfy the stomachs and taste buds of their customers. Take this chance to appreciate beautiful craft while indulging in delicious food and drink in the early spring sunshine.

Oarai Spring Festival Kairaku Festa

When: 9:30am – 8pm, March 15 (Fireworks begin at 7:30)
Where: Oarai Marine Tower Square, Oarai

20150315 Oarai Spring Festival Kairaku Festa

Celebrate the coming of spring with fireworks at the Oarai Spring Festival! There will be stage events throughout the day, including a Girls und Panzer (an anime set in Oarai) events, and stalls selling food and drink.

Events
Girls und Panzer Talk Show
Swordfish Preparation Show
BxAxG Performance
Oarai High School Blue Hawks Marching Band Performance
Oarai Elementary Brass Band Performance
Anime Music DJ