Ibaraki Summer Festivals 2015

Summer is objectively the best time of the year in Japan (okay, perhaps I am a little biased). The days are long, the cicadas are chirping, and you never need to worry about bringing a jacket with you. Clearly Japan agrees with me, because summer festivals are a huge part of Japanese culture. Ibaraki has plenty of its own, and regardless of whether you are a seasoned festival-goer or a complete beginner you should absolutely attend at least a few of them.

Ogawa Gion Festival

When: July 18-20
Where: Ogawa Town Centre, Omitama
Public Transport: 30 minutes by bus from Ishioka Station to Ogawa Bus Station, 10 minutes’ walk from there

The Ogawa Gion Festival is associated with Suga Shrine. It is said to be a forerunner of the Gion Festival, and was started around 480 years ago by the lord of Sonobe Castle. During the festival a parade including portable shrines, floats, and lion puppets operated by children and adults will travel around the town. Traffic will be regulated from 5-9:30pm during the festival.

Yuki Summer Festival

When: July 19-26
Where: Takedasuga Shrine, Yuki
Public Transport: 10 minutes’ walk from Yuki Station

The Yuki Summer Festival has continued since the Takedasuga Shrine was established in 1242 by Yuki Tomomitsu, the first head of the Yuki Clan, to pray for the safety of the castle town and the health of its residents.

30th Annual Sakai Furusato Festival

When: July 19, 25
Where: The banks of the Tone River and the old main street, Sakai
Public Transport: 40 minutes by bus from Koga Station or 40 minutes by bus from Tobu Animal Park

There will be a parade featuring dancing, portable shrines, a fife and drum corps, and a brass band, a character show, a fireworks display, and much more.

Shimodate Gion Festival

When: July 23-26, 6-10pm (on the 26th the festival will be from 6-9am)
Where: The main street north of Shimodate Station, Haguro Shrine, and various other locations in Chikusei
Public Transport: Right outside Shimodate Station

Chikusei’s largest festival, consisting of four days of portable shrine parades, including the 120 year old Meiji mikoshi, a women-only mikoshi, the Heisei mikoshi, which is the largest portable shrine in Japan that is carried every year, 30 children’s mikoshi, and many more. In the early morning on the 26th, the heroic river portable shrine parade will take place, during which the Meiji mikoshi will be carried in the river. On the 25th, the Wasshoi Carnival will be held alongside the Gion Festival. Portable shrines carried by adults and children will gather from in and around Shimodate and parade along the main road north of Shimodate Station.

Iwai Summer Festival

When: July 24-25, 6-10pm
Where: Iwai Town Center, Bando
Public Transport: 30 minutes by Ibaraki Kyuko Bus from Atago Station on the Tobu Urban Park Line

There will be a portable shrine parade from Yasaka Shrine and a children’s portable shrine parade. During the festival the roads will be closed to traffic and various events will take place.

Oshio Festival

When: July 25-26
Where: Tegosaki Shrine, Kamisu
Public Transport: 10 minutes by Kanto Tetsudo bus (heading for Hasaki Beach) from Choshi Station on the Sobu Line

The Hasaki area in Kamisu is a well-known fishing spot where the Kuroshio Current and Oyashio Current meet, and is has developed since long ago as a fishing town. The Tegosaki Shrine’s Oshio Festival has continued since midway through the Edo Period, and it is a lively festival where participants pray for safety at sea and large hauls. Portable shrines are carried from Tegosaki Shrine around Hasaki Fishing Port and the eastern Hasaki area, and they are known to occasionally jostle and get a little wild. As bystanders shout and cheer, this festival, which heralds the coming of midsummer, reaches its peak. Tegosaki Shrine and the Oshio Festival fanfare have been designated as Important Intangible Cultural Properties.

The 18th Annual Furusato Festival Association Portable Shrine Parade

When: July 25, 5-9pm
Where: Shimotsuma City Hall Chiyokawa Building, Shimotsuma
Public Transport: 12 minutes’ walk from Sodo Station

This festival allows you to experience the bold form of Japanese culture, with a parade featuring portable shrines and floats.

34th Annual Kappa Festival

When: July 25-26, 3-9:30pm
Where: Ushiku City Hall, Hanamizugi Street, local parks in Ushiku
Public Transport: 5 minutes’ walk from Ushiku Station

Around 10 thousand people will participate in the Kappa Bayashi Parade, the main feature of this festival. There will be a song show, dancing, and many more events on the main stage.

Yasaka Shrine Gion Festival

When: June 25
Where: Yasaka Shrine, Moriya
Public Transport: 10 minutes’ walk from Moriya Station

Yasaka Shrine’s Gion Festival is held in early summer to ward off illnesses that spread in summer. A kagura performance is held in the shrine’s Kagura Hall, five floats and a portable shrine with lanterns parade around the town, and at nightfall the floats, decorated with lights, gather before the shrine, where they surround and circle the portable shrine. This ceremony is particular to the Moriya Gion Festival.

Anba Festival

When: July 25
Where: The Shimoishizaki area and Lake Hinuma in Ibaraki-machi

On a stage on top of 3-4 linked Japanese-style boats, dances including okame and hyottoko are performed. At night, the boats line up before Osugi Shrine and the dancing continues.

Tsukumai

When: July 27, 6pm onward
Where: Tsukumai Street, Ne-machi, Ryugasaki
Public Transport: 10 minutes’ walk from Ryugasaki Station

On the last day of the three-day Yasaka Festival, a traditional performance known as tsukumai takes place. As flutes and drums play, a performer known as a mai-otoko (literally ‘dancing man’) wearing deep green clothing and a frog mask will climb a 14m pole. At the top there is a circle made from 120 straw bags, and there the mai-otoko will shoot an arrow to the north, south, east, and west. Next, he will perform daring acrobatics including handstands atop the pole. It is said that the purpose of this tsukumai is to pray for rain and a good harvest and to ward off diseases, and that the people who pick up the arrows shot by the mai-otoko will be free of misfortune for a year. Ryugasaki’s tsukumai is registered as an Important Intangible Cultural Property.

Yasaka Shrine Annual Festival

When: August 1-3
Where: Yasaka Shrine, Toride
Public Transport: 15 minutes’ walk from Toride Station

This festival is packed with traditions, including a parade of one of the three largest portable shrines in the Kanto region, bottomless floats, and a kagura performance. Yasaka Shrine was built in 1626, and the portable shrine was made in 1826. 80 young people will carry the portable shrine, which is known as one of the wildest portable shrines in the Kanto region. The shrine will be carried on August 1st and 3rd.

Tsuchiura Kirara Festival 2015

When: August 1-2, 1-9:30pm
Where: Main street west of Tsuchiura Station, Lake Kasumigaura, and other locations around Tsuchiura
Public Transport: Right outside Tsuchiura Station

The whole of Tsuchiura will be overrun with decorations and festivities, all the way to Lake Kasumigaura. There will be a Tanabata dancing contest and bold floats made by citizens parading through the streets.

Mai Ami Festival 2015

When: August 1-2, 3-9pm
Where: Street south of the Ibaraki Prefectural University of Health Sciences, Ami
Public Transport: 25 minutes by bus from Tsuchiura Station, or 15 minutes by bus from Arakawaoki Station

This festival has been held since 1990 – this year will be its 26th year. Throughout July summer festivals are held in many locations, and summer reaches its peak with in early August in Ami with the Mai Ami Festival, filling the streets with festive spirit.

55th Annual Mito Komon Festival

When: August 7-9
Where: Various locations around Mito
Public Transport: The main part of the festival takes place 10 minutes’ walk north of Mito Station

On the first day of the festival, 4500 fireworks will be let off over Senba Lake south of Mito Station. On the second and third days, a huge number of floats and portable shrines and around 3400 dancers will parade down the main street north of Mito Station.

Itako Gion Festival

When: August 7-9
Where: The area around Itako Station, Itako
Public Transport: Right outside Itako Station

The Itako Gion Festival is an event of Sogakumano Shrine, and is held on the first Friday to Sunday of August each year. The festivities include a parade of 14 flashy floats featuring large dolls accompanied by music. Many of the floats and decorations were made in the Edo and Meiji periods, and display the craftsmanship of the day. Some of them have been designated as Important Tangible Cultural Properties.

Fireworks and Lantern Festival

When: August 14, 7:30 – 9pm
Where: Oaza Daigo (Sandbank where the Kuji River and Oshikawa River meet), Daigo
Public Transport: 5 minutes’ walk from Hitachi-Daigo Station

Fireworks will be launched from the sandbar where the Kuji River and Oshikawa River meet, and the atmosphere produced by the innumerous lanterns floating along the river is unique to this festival.

Karakasa Lantern Festival

When: August 15
Where: Washi Shrine, Tsuchiura
Public Transport: 20 minutes by bus from Tsuchiura Station West Exit

The highlight of this festival are the dedicatory fireworks for a good harvest and household safety flowing from the 5x6m umbrella shaped launch pad like a waterfall. Before the fireworks are lit, there is also a dedicatory musical performance to call the rain.

28th Annual Ayumi Festival

When: August 16, 2:30-9pm
Where: Ayumizaki Park, Kasumigaura
Public Transport: 40 minutes by taxi from Kandatsu Station

From the unveiling of Ayumizaki Kannon Temple to canoeing, yosakoi, and taiko performances, this festival is packed with events. The festival closes with a fireworks display over Kasumigaura Lake.

Kasama Festival

When: August 16, 6-8:30pm, August 22, 6-9:30pm
Where: Area around Kasama Inari Shrine, Kasama
Public Transport: 15-20 minutes’ walk from Kasama Station

From the quiet atmosphere of the lantern floating on August 16 to the lively parade featuring a forceful nebuta from Aomori, a light objet nebuta created by the citizens, portable shrines, and much more, the Kasama Festival is a colourful summer event where you can enjoy both tranquility and movement.

21st Annual Hitachinaka Festival

When: August 22 – 23
Where: Various locations around Hitachinaka (the fireworks will take place at JGSDF Camp Katsuta)
Public Transport: Near Katsuta Station

The two-day festival begins with a powerful fireworks display that can be seen from JGSDF Camp Katsuta, with around 3000 fireworks, including giant starmines set to music. The second day is packed with events, the main one being a Guinness World Record attempt with Hitachinaka’s famous dried sweet potatoes.

Oarai Hassaku Festival

When: August 22 – 23, 3 – 9pm
Where: Various locations around Oarai
Public Transport: 15 minutes’ walk from Oarai Station

Originally a festival to pray for a good harvest and stability for the town’s residents, the Oarai Hassaku Festival has continued since the 1700s. It ceased for a time in the 60s, but was revived in 1999. The eve of the festival there will be a parade of floats, and on the day of the festival the roads will be closed to traffic and filled with food stalls and booths displaying local wares.

Matsuri Tsukuba 2015

When: August 22, 12 – 9pm, August 23 10 – 9pm
Where: Various locations around Tsukuba Station, Tsukuba
Public Transport: A few minutes’ walk from Tsukuba Station

Tsukuba’s largest festival, a lively and passionate event held with the aim of showing off what makes Tsukuba wonderful.

Doskoi Pear

When: August 23, 9am – 9:30pm
Where: Chikusei City Hall Sekijo Branch, Chikusei
Public Transport: 10 minutes by taxi from Kurogo Station or the south exit of Kawashima Station or Shimodate Station

The Doskoi Pear Festival is associated with pears, a specialty of Chikusei, and the pear sumo, which is held to pray for a good harvest of pears. This year, groups including the Shikihide Stable in Ryugasaki, Mito’s local idols, and Ibaliger will attend. During the day there will be children’s sumo, women’s sumo, arm wrestling, and a number of other stage events. In the evening, there will be a portable shrine parade and accompanying music and a number of other events. There will also be an open air market with stalls and booths selling food and other local products.

Tsunabi

When: Late August (Takaoka Style), August 24 (Kohari Matsushita Style)
Where: Takaoka Atago Shrine (Takaoka Style) Kohari Atago Shrine (Kohari Matsushita Style), Tsukubamirai
Public Transport: Take a bus from Toride Station and get off at Takaoka Bus Stop, or 20 minutes’ walk from Miraidaira Station

Tsunabi (literally ‘rope fire’) involves ropes being strung up between poles, and people making puppets and fireworks cross the ropes while drums and flutes play music. This event is associated with the Atago Shrine, and is held to ward off fires and pray for a good harvest. There are two styles of tsunabi performed in Toride, and both are designated Important Intangible Cultural Properties. This festival, during which you can watch dolls and fireworks cross the summer night sky, is an invaluable piece of Japanese history and culture.

Omitama Furusato Fureai Festival

When: August 28, 6pm onward, August 29, 9am – 9pm (postponed to August 30 in case of rain)
Where: Kibogaoka Park, Omitama
Public Transport: 20 minutes by bus from Ishioka Station, get off at Hills Garden Minori

There will be a number of stage events, including performances by elementary and junior high school students, folk entertainments, a song performance, character show, yelling contest, and much more. There will also be stalls run by locals. In the evening on the 29th there will be a lively harvest dance, followed by a fireworks display. This festival is fun for the whole family. On Friday evening, there will be a yosakoi festival.

Ishioka Festival

When: September 19, 9am onward, September 20, 10:30am onward, September 21, 1:10pm onward
Where: The area around Ishioka Station, Hitachi no Kuni Soshagu Shrine, Ishioka
Public Transport: Right outside Ishioka Station

The Ishioka Festival is associated with Hitachi no Kuni Soshagu Shrine, and is one of the Kanto region’s three largest festivals. More than 40 elaborate portable shrines, floats, and lion puppets will parade around the town.

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Ibaraki Fireworks Festivals 2015

Fireworks are an integral part of Japanese summer, and Ibaraki prefecture hosts a number of marvelous displays every year. Dust off your yukata and get ready to shout ‘tamaya!’, because these festivals are not to be missed.

Hitachi Sand Art Festival Fireworks

When: July 19, 8 – 8:30pm
Where: Kawarago Port and Beach, Hitachi

The Sand Art Festival marks the opening of the Kawarago Beach Swimming Spot. These splendid fireworks are brought to you by Nomura Fireworks, a local Ibaraki brand. The fireworks set to music are particularly spectacular.

30th Annual Sakai Furusato Festival Fireworks

When: July 19, 7:30 – 9:00pm
Where: The banks of the Tonegawa River, Sakai

These fireworks mark the closing of the Sakai Furusato Festival. The dynamically delicate fireworks set to music and starmines will make you forget the heat of summer.

Oarai Ocean Fireworks Festival

When: July 25, 7:30 – 8:30pm
Where: Oarai Sun Beach, Oarai

Around 3000 fireworks light up the summer night sky over the ocean during the Oarai Ocean Fireworks Festival, held on the spacious Oarai Sun Beach. There are 10-hit runs of extremely large individual fireworks, big starmines, and wide-area starmines. The finale, a volley of fireworks set off in time to music, is particularly spectacular.

The 58th Annual Hitachi Port Festival

When: July 26, 7:30 – 8:15pm
Where: Pier 2, Hitachi Port, Hitachi

Hitachi Port lies on the front steps of Hitachi City. The Hitachi Port Festival starts from 1pm, and is a huge event that has become a staple of the Hitachi area. Local businesses open around 100 stalls and floats and portable shrines fill the streets during this embodiment of summer festival spirit. From 7:30pm around 2000 fireworks are set off.

The 20th Annual Ajigaura Beach Fireworks Festival

When: July 26, 7 – 8:30pm
Where: Ajigaura Beach, Hitachinaka

This fireworks festival is held at Ajigaura Beach, one of Ibaraki’s best know swimming spots. Feel the sea breeze and listen to the waves lap on the sand as you watch large individual fireworks, starmines, and unique custom fireworks light up the ocean.

Sunset in Tenozaki

When: August 1, 7pm onward
Where: Tenozaki Park, Namegata

6,000 fireworks will be let off over Kasumigaura at this festival, including a huge ‘underwater firework’ – a type of firework that is released on the water so that the lights dance across the surface, seeming to shoot out from under it. There will be food stalls and stage events. This festival allows you to enjoy both the view of the fireworks in the air and their reflection on the water.

The 10th Annual Koga Fireworks Festival

When: August 1, 7:20 – 8:50pm
Where: Koga Golf Links, Koga

A whopping 25,000 fireworks are let off during the Koga Fireworks Festival. Behind the golf course where the festival is held, you can find the Watarase Basin, the largest river basin in Honshu.

The 49th Annual Shimotsuma Sanuma Fireworks Festival

When: August 1, 7:30 – 9pm
Where: Sanuma Lake, Shimotsuma

3000 fireworks colour the sky over Sanuma Lake during the Shimotsuma Sanuma Fireworks Festival. Be amazed as large fireworks set to music explode above you. The mega starmine that signals the finale is a must see.

Hitachi Kawarago Ocean Fireworks Festival

When: August 1, 7:30 – 8:30pm
Where: Kawarago Beach, Hitachi

If you lay on your back in the sand and look up it’s almost as though you are being bathed with multicoloured rain. Watch as 1000 large individual fireworks, starmines, and volleys brighten the evening sky.

Toyoura School District Summer Fireworks Festival

When: August 1, 7:15 – 8pm
Where: Kawajiri Port Swimming Spot, Hitachi

Cool off on a hot summer’s night with starmines at the Kawajiri Port Swimming Spot.

The 40th Annual Kawashima Fireworks Festival

When: August 2, 7:30 – 9pm
Where: The banks of the Kinugawa River, south of the Shin Kawashima Bridge

2000 fireworks will colour the night sky and put you in a festive mood during the Kawashima Fireworks Festival.

The 26th Annual Juuou Festival

When: August 2, 7:45 – 8:15pm
Where: Hongo Zensen (In front of the JA Juuou Branch)

This festival begins at noon in the park near the station with taiko drum performances and dancing by local children. In the afternoon there will be a portable shrine parade along the street in front of the station (ekimae doori) and a flea market in the rotary in front of the station. In the evening a fireworks display will signal the end of the festival.

The 55th Annual Mito Komon Festival

When: August 7, 7:30 – 8:30pm
Where: Lake Senba, Mito

Around 4500 fireworks including fast volleys, custom fireworks, extra-big starmines, wide starmines, and starmines set to music light up Lake Senba during the Mito Komon Festival, one of Mito’s biggest festivals. Enjoy the reflection of the fireworks on the lake’s surface.

The 62nd Annual Toride Tonegawa River Fireworks

When: August 8, 7 – 8:15pm (may be postponed in bad weather)
Where: Toride Ryokuchi Undo Park, Toride

There will be around 7000 fireworks let off during this magnificent fireworks display over the Tonegawa River. There is plenty to be excited about, including a 300m Niagara Falls firework. You won’t be able to look away during this intense barrage of colour and light. There will be box seats available for a cost for those who want a better view.

37th Annual Tokai Festival Fireworks

When: August 8, 7-8:30pm
Where: Akogigaura Park, Tokai

The Tokai Festival is one of Tokai’s three biggest festivals, held every year in August. Enjoy a beautiful firework display that will colour the summer night sky.

11th Annual Kokaigawa River Fireworks Festival

When: August 8, 7pm onward
Where: On the banks of the Kokaigawa River, south of Narita Bridge, Chikusei

This is the 11th time the Kokaigawa River Fireworks Festival has been held. One of the interesting features of this festival is that you can pay 1000 yen (or more if you want something fancier) for a firework that symbolises safety for your family, traffic safety, or prosperity for your business, and the firework will be set off for you. Unfortunately the deadline for purchasing the fireworks has already passed this year, but this beautiful display is still worth witnessing for yourself.

28th Annual Nakaminato Fireworks Festival

When: August 11, 7 – 8:30pm
Where: Nakaminato Fishing Port Area, Hitachinaka

Enjoy a variety of fireworks at one of the busiest fishing ports in Ibaraki. Your breath will be taken away at the sight of the ‘underwater fireworks’ – a type of firework that is released on the water so that the lights dance across the surface, seeming to shoot out from under it.

2015 Hitachi Summer Festival

When: August 12, 8pm onwards
Where: Ose Grand, Hitachi

The Hitachi Summer Festival will start at 6:30pm, with a display of around 400 fireworks from 8pm. Sparklers will be distributed to children, but the supply is limited so the early bird gets the worm. There will be stalls, performances, and plenty of fun at this lively local festival.

Daigo Fireworks Festival and Floating Lanterns

When: August 14, 7:30-9pm
Where: Where Kujigawa River and Oshikawa River meet, Daigo

The sight of countless Obon lanterns floating along the river against a backdrop of fireworks colouring the summer evening sky is a sight to behold, and certainly not one to miss.

41st Annual Gozenyama Cooling Fireworks Festival

When: August 14, 7:30 – 8:30pm
Where: Noguchi, near Nakagawa River Bridge, Hitachiomiya

An established festival in the Gozenyama area, which is now part of Hitachiomiya City. Around 1000 fireworks will make this beautiful area even more spectacular than usual.

Ose Summer Festival

When: August 14, 8pm onwards
Where: Ose Fishing Port Square, Hitachi

This festival includes a kids’ treasure hunt, an exhibit by the fire department, a beach taiko drum performance, bon-odori, and more. The bon-odori is a traditional Japanese dance to welcome the spirits of the dead during Obon. Each region has its own version of the dance, so it is definitely worth checking out.

Ushiku Daibutsu Lantern Festival Fireworks

When: August 15, 5:30pm (dedicatory fireworks) and 9pm (main fireworks)
Where: Ushiku Daibutsu grounds, Ushiku

See the striking Ushiku Daibutsu lit up by a multitude of splendid fireworks.

Ota Festival Fireworks

When: August 15, 8:30 – 9pm
Where: Yamabuki Undo Park, Hitachiota

The fireworks mark the finale of the Ota Festival bon-odori, where locals get together and dance to beat the heat.

Ayumi Festival Fireworks

When: August 16, 8pm onwards
Where: Ayumizaki Park, Lake Kasumigaura, Kasumigaura

The Ayumi Festival is a major festival held each year on August 16 in Ayumizaki Park. Around 1000 fireworks will light the sky above Lake Kasumigaura as the finale to this exciting festival, held alongside the Hobikisen fishing sail boats that Kasumigaura is famous for.

Shirosato Furusato Festival

When: August 16, 8:30pm onwards
Where: Daikei Bridge riverbed, Awayama, Shirosato

With a folk song performance, bon-odori, yosakoi, and much more, the Shirosato Furusato Festival is packed with awesome events. The fireworks display will paint the summer sky. The finale is particularly noteworthy.

21st Annual Hitachinaka Festival Fireworks

When: August 22, 7:30 – 8:30pm
Where: JGSDF Camp Katsuta, Hitachinaka

These fireworks are let off on the first day of the two-day Hitachinaka Festival. Giant starmines and original fireworks set in time to music decorate the summer evening sky in a breathtaking show of smoke and lights. Day two of the festival is also packed with events including a portable shrine parade and dance contest, so be sure to check it out!

27th Annual Miwa Furusato Festival

When: August 22, 8 – 8:30pm
Where: Miwa Undo Park, Hitachiomiya

The festival begins at 2pm, and is packed with fun-filled events, including a character show and a raffle. The fireworks will follow the bon-odori and lantern parade, signaling the end of the festival.

32nd Annual Ayunosato Festival

When: August 22, 7:30 – 8:30pm
Where: Seiryu Park, Hitachiomiya

With events such as ayu (a type of fish) catching and a barbeque, the Ayunosato festival allows you to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. A wonderful fireworks display draws this summer festival, which focuses on bringing people closer together, to a close.

2015 Inashiki Summer Festival Fireworks

When: August 22, 7 – 8:30pm
Where: Edosaki Sogo Undo Park, Inashiki

This summer festival has been held in late August since 1996. The fireworks display, which is the main event of the festival, boasts the most fireworks of any display in Ibaraki.

37th Annual Suigo Itako Fireworks Festival

When: August 22, 7:30 – 9pm
Where: A temporary site on the Kita-Tonegawa River in front of Suigo Hokusai Park, Itako

Starmines and other fireworks will colour the Suigo sky. You can enjoy fireworks over the water up close from the viewing point in Hokusai Park.

38th Annual Tone Cooling Fireworks Festival

When: August 22, 8 – 9pm
Where: The banks of the Tonegawa River downstream from Sakae Bridge, Tone

Many people visit this lively festival on the banks of the Tonegawa River. See the sky painted a variety of colours during this wonderful fireworks display.

8th Annual Kitaibaraki Citizens Festival

When: August 23, 8 – 8:30pm
Where: Around Isohara Station, Kitaibaraki

Around 1000 citizens join the parade dance that is the main feature of the Kitaibaraki Citizens Festival. The fireworks display is the finale. You can also enjoy a multitude of handmade games and events.

30th Annual Kirasse Festival Fireworks

When: August 23, 8 – 8:45pm
Where: Hasaki Swimming Spot and the area around Sun Sun Park, Kamisu

This festival is held at the Hasaki Swimming Spot, which was chosen as one of the 100 best ocean swimming spots in Japan. The water is shallow for a long distance from the shore, making it ideal for a fireworks festival. Don’t miss out on the mega starmine!

37th Annual Kashima Fireworks Festival

When: August 29, 7:30 – 9pm
Where: Lake Kitaura, Ofunatsu, Kashima

During the Kashima Fireworks Festival 10,000 fireworks will appear in the sky above Lake Kitaura. The ‘underwater starmines’ are known to be particularly spectacular. As the fireworks are reflected on the surface of the lake, you can enjoy twice the beauty of a regular fireworks display.

51st Annual Joso Kinugawa River Fireworks Festival

When: August 29, 6:20 – 8:25pm
Where: On the banks of the Kinugawa River, Hashimoto Undo Park, Joso

This display is coordinated by the Japan Fireworks Artists Association and some of Japan’s leading firework artists. It will include computer controlled fireworks, fireworks set to music, and much, much more. This spectacular display is not one to be missed.

Naka Himawari Festival 2015

When: August 29, 7 – 7:40pm
Where: Naka Sogo Park, Naka

43rd Annual Kamisu Fireworks Festival

When: September 19, 7 – 8pm
Where: Gonoike Ryokuchi Athletic Field, Kamisu

The fireworks in the evening are the main event of this fireworks festival, colouring the night sky above Kamisu brilliant shades of every colour.

84th Annual Tsuchiura National Fireworks Competition

When: October 3, 6pm onwards
Where: Near the Gakuen Obashi Bridge on the banks of the Sakuragawa River

The Tsuchiura Fireworks Competition began in 1925. Originally it was a festival to commemorate the spirits of the Kasumigaura Naval Air Corps who died while on duty, and to promote local commerce. From 1947 it became a competition where top ranked firework artists could test their skills. Firework artists colour the sky with giant flowers in an enormous display of skill to the delight of huge crowds of onlookers. Make sure you arrive early to get a spot!

A Guide to Ibaraki’s Beaches 2015

Within Ibaraki Prefecture there are 18 beaches for swimming, among which are 5 of the 7 beaches in the Kanto area chosen by the Ministry of the Environment as ‘Japan’s 100 Best Beaches’. Ibaraki’s swimming beaches are famous for their clear, clean water. Come and beat the heat at one of Ibaraki’s beaches!

Beach Details

Isohara Futatsushima Beach (Kita-Ibaraki)

Enjoy the sight of Isohara’s local symbol, the ‘Twin Islands’ (Futatsushima) from the white sands of Isohara Beach. This beach is known for its white sands and aquamarine water. On July 26th there will be a watermelon splitting festival.

Period: July 25th to August 16th
Access: Car – 10min from the Kita-Ibaraki IC on the Joban Expressway
Train – 5min taxi ride or 15 min walk from Isohara Station on the JR Joban Line
Parking: Free (50 spots)
Inquiries: Kita-Ibaraki Commerce and Tourism Division   0293-43-1111

Takahagi Beach (Takahagi)

Only a 10 minute walk from Takahagi Station, this beach is perfectly located. The contrast between the clear, wide ocean and the white sandy beach is breathtaking. On July 19th-20th the Takahagi JVA Beach Volleyball tournament will be held, and the Shining Beach Project will take place on August 1st.

Period: July 18th to August 16th
Access: Car – 10 min from the Takahagi IC on the Joban Expressway
Train – 10 min walk from Takahagi Station on the JR Joban Line
Parking: Paid (200 spaces, 500 yen for motorcycles, 1000 yen for regular, 2000 yen for mid-size, 3000 yen for larger vehicles)
Inquiries: Takahagi Tourism Association  0293-23-7316

Ishihama Beach (Hitachi)

This is a beautiful beach dotted with pine trees, selected as both one of the 100 best beaches in Japan and one of the 100 most beautiful white sand and pine tree beaches in Japan. On August 2nd and 9th there will be a beach cleanup, and the Juo Festival will take place on August 2nd.

Period: July 18th to August 16th
Access: Car – 8 min from the Hitachi Kita IC on the Joban Expressway
Train – 10 min by bus from Juo Station on the JR Joban Line
Parking: Paid (370 spaces at 1000 yen each, 2000 yen for mid-size buses, 2500 yen for large buses)
Inquiries: Hitachi Tourism and Local Products Association  0294-51-3972

Kawajiri Beach (Hitachi)

This beach is right next to Kawajiri Port and its best features are the calm waves and wide, shallow sands. This is a place where even families with small children can enjoy swimming and playing on the shore. There will be a beach cleanup on August 2nd and 9th, the Juo Festival on August 2nd, and the Toyoura School District Summer Fireworks Festival on August 1st.

Period: July 18th to August 16th
Access: Car – 5 min from the Hitachi Kita IC on the Joban Expressway
Train – 5 min by taxi from Juo Station on the JR Joban Line
Parking: Paid (40 places at 1000 yen each)
Inquiries: Hitachi Tourism and Local Products Association  0294-51-3972

Ose Beach (Hitachi)

The closest beach to Hitachi Station. The tides form natural pools in the rocky shores that are extremely popular with children. There will be a beach cleanup on August 2nd and 9th, and the Ose Summer Fireworks Festival on August 14th.

Period: July 18th to August 16th
Access: Car – 15 min from the Hitachi Chuo IC on the Joban Expressway
Train – 10 min walk from the Beach Exit of Hitachi Station on the JR Joban Line
Parking: Paid (70 spaces at 1000 yen each)
Inquiries: Hitachi Tourism and Local Products Association  0294-51-3972

Kawarago Beach (Hitachi)

This popular beach has been chosen as one of the 100 best beaches in Japan. This beach’s attractions include the wide, shallow shore, the clear, clean water, and large stretches of sand. There will be a beach cleanup on August 2nd and 9th, Hitachi Sand Art Festival and the Beach Challenge Festival on August 19th, and the Kawarago Ocean Fireworks Festival on August 1st.

Period: July 18th to August 16th
Access: Car – 25 min from the Hitachi Minami Ota IC on the Joban Expressway
Train – 15 min by taxi from Hitachi-Taga Station on the JR Joban Line
Parking: Paid (400 spaces at 1000 yen each, mid-size buses 2000 yen, large buses 2500 yen)
Inquiries: Hitachi Tourism and Local Products Association  0294-51-3972

Mizuki Beach (Hitachi)

This tiny beach is a hidden gem sandwiched between Kawarago Beach and Kujihama Beach. Chosen as one of the 100 best beaches in Japan, it features very calm waves. On August 2nd and 9th there will be a beach cleanup.

Period: July 18th to August 16th
Access: Car – 20 min from the Hitachi Minami Ota IC on the Joban Expressway
Train – 5 min by taxi from Omika Station on the JR Joban Line
Parking: Paid (50 spaces at 1000 yen each)
Inquiries: Hitachi Tourism and Local Products Association  0294-51-3972

Kujihama Beach (Hitachi)

Close to both Kuji Fishing Port and Hitachi Port, this beach features a white lighthouse and a deep azure sea as well as exquisitely beautiful white beaches and green pine trees. There will be a beach cleanup on August 2nd and 9th, and Hitachi Port Festival on July 26th.

Period: July 18th to August 16th
Access: Car – 20 min from the Hitachi Minami Ota IC on the Joban Expressway
Train – 10 min by taxi from Omika Station on the JR Joban Line
Parking: Paid (350 spaces at 1000 yen each, 2000 yen for mid-size buses, 2500 yen for large buses)
Inquiries: Hitachi Tourism and Local Products Association  0294-51-3972

Ajigaura Beach (Hitachinaka)

A beautiful beach spanning 1.5km curving in a pine-tree dotted arc. Popular with couples and families with young children. On Saturday nights between July 18th and August 22nd there will be an event called Ajigaura Lantern Night, on July 26th the 20th Annual Ajigaura Beach Fireworks Festival will be held, on August 11th the Nakaminato Ocean Fireworks Festival will be held, and on August 8th and 9th the Minato Hassaku Festival will be held.

Period: July 18th to August 23rd
Access: Car – 5 min from the Hitachi Kaihin Park IC on the Kita-Kanto Expressway after the Tomobe JCT on the Joban Expressway
Train – 5 min walk from Ajigaura Station on the Hitachinaka Kaihin Railway Minato Line, after riding from Katsuta Station on the JR Joban Line
Parking: Tourism Association Parking (200 spaces at 1000 yen each)
Inquiries: Hitachinaka Tourism Association  029-273-0116

Hiraiso Beach (Hitachinaka)

This is a beach with calm waves, surrounded by dykes and breakers, making it perfect for families with children. The ‘Daichan the Whale’ floating slide is extremely popular with children. On August 11th the Nakaminato Ocean Fireworks Festival will be held, and on August 8th and 9th the Minato Hassaku Festival will be held.

Period: July 18th to August 23rd
Access: Car – 10 min from the Hitachi Kaihin Park IC on the Kita-Kanto Expressway after the Tomobe JCT on the Joban Expressway
Train – 10 min walk from Hiraiso Station on the Hitachinaka Kaihin Railway Minato Line, after riding from Katsuta Station on the JR Joban Line
Parking: Paid (100 spaces at 800 yen each, summer only)
Inquiries: Hitachinaka Tourism Association  029-273-0116

Uba-no-futokoro Marine Pool (Hitachinaka)

A pool in the ocean making use of the high tide. A very popular leisure spot for families with children. On August 11th the Nakaminato Ocean Fireworks Festival will be held, and on August 8th and 9th the Minato Hassaku Festival will be held. From August 24th to August 30th, the pool will be opened for dogs.

Period: July 18th to August 23rd
Access: Car – 10 min from the Hitachinaka IC on the Kita-Kanto Expressway after the Tomobe IC on the Joban Expressway
Train – 10 min walk from Tonoyama Station on the Hitachinaka Kaihin Railway Line, after riding from Katsuta Station on the JR Joban Line
Parking: Paid (100 spaces at 800 yen each)
Inquiries: Hitachinaka Tourism Association  029-273-0116

Oarai Beach (Oarai)

A beach featuring beautiful natural scenery backgrounded by forests. The beach itself is composed of natural pools formed between the rocks, and is popular with children because of the crabs and starfish that can be found there. On July 20th the Oarai Tourism Association President’s Cup Yatch Race will be held in the Oarai Marina. On August 9th there will be a Bon Odori event at the Oarai Marine Tower. On August 22nd and 23rd the Oarai Hassaku Festival will be held around Oarai, and on August 29th and 30th the 2015 Ibaraki Bill Fish Tournament and the Ocean Appreciation Festival will be held at the Oarai Marina and Wharf No. 4.

Period: July 18th to August 23rd
Access: Car – 15 min from the Mito-Oarai IC on the Kita-Kanto Expressway after the Tomobe IC on the Joban Expressway
Train – 15 min by bus from Oarai Station on the Kashima Coastal Railway Oarai Kashima Line
Parking: Paid (1000 spaces; large vehicles 2460 yen, midsize 1020 yen, regular 800 yen, motorcycles 330 yen)
Inquiries: Oarai Tourism Association  029-266-0788

Oarai Sun Beach (Oarai)

This beach is proud to be the biggest in size in the Joban area. This beach is also known for being barrier-free, offering free rentals of wheelchairs that can enter the water and taking other considerations to make it possible for those with disabilities to enjoy the beach. On July 31st to August 2nd, the Oarai JVA Beach Volleyball Tournament and the 26th Annual Oarai Beach Vollyeball event will be held. On July 25th the Oarai Ocean Fireworks Festival will be held. The National Beach Racing Selection Tournament will be held on August 9th, and the Oarai Cup (surfing and bodyboarding) will be held on August 29th and 30th. On July 20th the Oarai Tourism Association President’s Cup Yatch Race will be held in the Oarai Marina. On August 9th there will be a Bon Odori event at the Oarai Marine Tower. On August 22nd and 23rd the Oarai Hassaku Festival will be held around Oarai, and on August 29th and 30th the 2015 Ibaraki Bill Fish Tournament and the Ocean Appreciation Festival will be held at the Oarai Marina and Wharf No. 4.

Period: July 18th to August 23rd
Access: Car – 15 min from the Mito-Oarai IC on the Kita-Kanto Expressway after the Tomobe IC on the Joban Expressway
Train – 10 min by bus from Oarai Station on the Kashima Coastal Railway Oarai Kashima Line
Parking: Paid (7000 spaces; large vehicles 3000 yen, midsize 1300 yen, regular 1000 yen, motorcycles 400 yen)
Inquiries: Oarai Tourism Association  029-266-0788

Otake Coast Hokota Beach (Hokota)

The Otake Coast is also known as Ibaraki’s Gold Coast, featuring long, white sandy beaches and clear blue waters.

Period: July 18th to August 16th
Access: Car – 30 min from the Ibaraki Airport Kita IC on the Higashi Kanto Expressway
Train – 10 min by taxi from Shin Hokota Station on the Kashima Coastal Railway Oarai Kashima Line
Parking: Paid (1500 spaces, regular 1000 yen)
Inquiries: Hokota City Hall, Commerce and Tourism Division  0291-33-2111

Shimotsu Beach (Kashima)

This beach features beautifully clear waters and a pretty sandy shore, making it easy for swimming.

Period: July 17th to August 16th
Access: Car – 20min from the Itako IC on the Higashi Kanto Expressway
Train – 10min by taxi from Kashima Jingu Station on the Kashima Coastal Railway Oarai Kashima Line
Parking: Paid (300 spaces; regular 800 yen, midsize 1000 yen, large 2000 yen)
Inquiries: Kashima Tourism Association  0299-82-7730

Hirai Beach (Kashima)

A hidden gem located to the south of Shimotsu Beach. Its attractions include a wide beach and calm waves that make it perfect for swimming. On August 8th and 9th there will be a number of events held for the 2015 Kashima Antlers Cup Beach Soccer Tournament

Period: July 17th to August 16th
Access: Car – 20 min from the Itako IC on the Higashi Kanto Expressway
Train – 10 min by taxi from Kashima Jingu Station on the Kashima Coastal Railway Oarai Kashima Line
Parking: Paid (750 spaces; regular 800 yen, midsize 1000 yen, large 2000 yen)
Inquiries: Kashima Tourism Association  0299-82-7730

Hikawahama Beach (Kamisu)

A beach popular for its wide, white sandy beaches and beautiful views. Very attractive to families with children due to the low parking fees.

Period: July 18th to August 23rd
Access: Car – 35 min from the Itako IC on the Higashi Kanto Expressway
Train – 15 min by taxi from Shimousa-tachibana Station on the JR Narita Line
Parking: 600 spaces (free)
Inquiries: Kamisu Commerce and Tourism Division  0299-90-1217

Hasaki Beach (Kamisu)

A shallow beach with clear water that has been chosen as one of the 100 best beaches in Japan. There are many spots for surfing and body-boarding, making it great for marine sports. On August 23rd the Kirasse Festival and fireworks will be held.

Period: July 18th to August 23rd
Access: Car – 60 min from the Itako IC on the Higashi Kanto Expressway
Train – 10 min by bus from Choshi Station on the JR Sobu Main Line
Parking: 600 spaces (free)
Inquiries: Kamisu Commerce and Tourism Division  0299-90-1217

Mito Beer Festival and Mito Meat Festival

When: July 16 – 20
Where: Minami-machi Jiyuu Hiroba, Mito (3 Chome-6-19 Minamimachi
Mito-shi, Ibaraki-ken)

20150716_mitobeermeatfestival

This year the Mito Beer Festival is bigger and better than ever, with many new brews including more brands that are popular with women. The Mito Meat Festival will also be held alongside the Beer Festival, so you can chow down on delicious food too. There will be soft drink and non-alcoholic beers served too, and the event is open to people of all ages. Everything is bought using tickets, which you can purchase at the registration desk when you arrive. The event will go ahead in rainy weather but will be cancelled if there is a storm. On the 16th and 17th the event will go from 4-9pm, and on the 18th, 19th, and 20th it will run from 2-9pm.