Satoani Yasato Anime Music Festival

When: August 20
Where: Asahi Satoyama Gakko, Ishioka (630 Shibauchi, Ishioka)
Tickets

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This anime music festival will be held from morning to evening in the Yasato area of Ishioka. There will be performances from singers and DJs throughout the day, including locally born Takada Kozue, best known for her song ‘Himitsu Kichi’, which was used as one of the ending themes of the popular mecha anime Eureka Seven. There will also be changing rooms for cosplay and local food and drink available in the cafeteria.

Artists
Takada Kozue
Kobayashi Mika
yucat
Kobayashi Koichi
DJ THE LASTTRAK
DJ Warabi
junkMA
and more!

Ibaraki Summer Festivals

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.

Oshio Festival

When: July 16-17
Where: Tegosaki Shrine, Kamisu
Public Transport: 10 minutes by Kanto Tetsudo bus (heading for Hasaki Beach) from Choshi Station on the Sobu Line

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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.

Ogawa Gion Festival

When: July 16-18
Where: Ogawa Town Centre, Omitama
Public Transport: 30 minutes by bus from Ishioka Station to Ogawa Bus Station, 10 minutes’ walk from there

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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 last two days of the festival.

Yuki Summer Festival

When: July 17-31
Where: Takedasuga Shrine, Yuki
Public Transport: 10 minutes’ walk from Yuki Station

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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.

31st Annual Sakai Furusato Festival

When: July 17 (Raft Race), 23 (streets closed to traffic and events around town), 30 (fireworks)
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

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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.

Iwai Summer Festival

When: July 22-23, 6-10pm
Where: Iwai Town Center, Bando
Public Transport: 30 minutes by Ibaraki Kyuko Bus from Atago Station on the Tobu Urban Park Line

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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.

Tsukumai

When: July 24, 6pm onward
Where: Tsukumai Street, Ne-machi, Ryugasaki
Public Transport: 10 minutes’ walk from Ryugasaki Station

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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.

Shimodate Gion Festival

When: July 28-31 6-10pm (on the 31st 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

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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 31st, the heroic river portable shrine parade will take place, during which the Meiji mikoshi will be carried in the river. On the 30th, 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.

The 19th Annual Furusato Festival Association Portable Shrine Parade

When: July 30, 5-9pm (rain date: July 31)
Where: Shimotsuma City Hall Chiyokawa Building, Shimotsuma
Public Transport: 12 minutes’ walk from Sodo Station

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

35th Annual Kappa Festival

When: July 30-31, 3-9:30pm
Where: Ushiku City Hall, Hanamizugi Street, local parks in Ushiku
Public Transport: 5 minutes’ walk from Ushiku Station

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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 30
Where: Yasaka Shrine, Moriya
Public Transport: 10 minutes’ walk from Moriya Station

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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 30
Where: The Shimoishizaki area and Lake Hinuma in Ibaraki-machi

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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.

Yasaka Shrine Annual Festival

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

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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.

56th 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

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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 5-7
Where: The area around Itako Station, Itako
Public Transport: Right outside Itako Station

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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.

Tsuchiura Kirara Festival 2016

When: August 6-7, 1-9:30pm
Where: Main street west of Tsuchiura Station, Lake Kasumigaura, and other locations around Tsuchiura
Public Transport: Right outside Tsuchiura Station

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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 2016

When: August 6-7, 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

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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.

Daigo 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

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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

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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.

Sugaya Festival

When: August 15
Where: Kashima Shrine
Public Transport: 10 minutes’ walk from Nakasugaya Station

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The Sugaya Festival has been held at Kashima Shrine in the Sugaya District of Naka since the deity was installed in the shrine in 1857. It is now held once a year on August 15th, and is also known as Sugaya Lantern Festival or Osuke Festival. The parade of 9 floats adorned with hundreds of lanterns and the fire ignition by sword ceremony are the main draws of this festival. At sunset the Seven Lanterns (seven lanterns hanging from a 5m piece of bamboo) and the lanterns on the floats are lit, and the festival becomes even more lively.

29th Annual Ayumi Festival

When: August 16, 11am-8pm
Where: Ayumizaki Park, Kasumigaura
Public Transport: 25 minutes on the free loop bus from Kandatsu Station

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

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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 20 – 21
Where: Various locations around Hitachinaka (the fireworks will take place at JGSDF Camp Katsuta)
Public Transport: Near Katsuta Station

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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.

Oarai Hassaku Festival

When: August 20 – 21, (roads closed to traffic from 3 – 9pm on the 21st)
Where: Various locations around Oarai
Public Transport: 15 minutes’ walk from Oarai Station

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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.

Tsunabi

When: August 21 (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 Atago Bus Stop, or 20 minutes’ walk from Miraidaira Station

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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 26, 6pm onward, August 27, 9am – 9pm (postponed to August 28 in case of rain)
Where: Kibogaoka Park, Omitama
Public Transport: 20 minutes by bus from Ishioka Station, get off at Hills Garden Minori

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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 27th there will be a fireworks display. This festival is fun for the whole family. On Friday evening, there will be an impression show by Maneda Seiko and performances by locals.

Matsuri Tsukuba 2016

When: August 27, 12 – 9pm, August 28 10 – 9pm
Where: Various locations around Tsukuba Station, Tsukuba
Public Transport: A few minutes’ walk from Tsukuba Station

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

Doskoi Pear

When: September 4, 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

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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. 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.

Ishioka Festival

When: September 17, 9am onward, September 18, 10:30am onward, September 19, 1:10pm onward
Where: The area around Ishioka Station, Hitachi no Kuni Soshagu Shrine, Ishioka
Public Transport: Right outside Ishioka Station

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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.

Keeping Up With Kasama – New CIR Blog

As you probably know from the description, the Ibarakey blog is run by Coordinators for International Relations (CIRs) working at the Ibaraki Prefectural Office, but we aren’t the only CIRs in Ibaraki – there are several working at municipal government offices around the prefecture. We’d like to introduce Keeping Up With Kasama, the blog of Jordan Okenyi, a CIR from the USA working in the Civic Activities Division at Kasama City Hall. Jordan writes about Kasama from the perspective of a foreign resident – he covers local events and news.

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We asked Jordan to answer a few questions about himself and his work. You can check out his answers below.

How did you become interested in Japan?

I became interested in Japan during my sophomore year of university. Not knowing anything about Japan or Japanese I joined a language class, and I’ve been hooked ever since! In particular, I like kanji and written Japanese. The desire to improve my language skills brought me here in 2013 as a foreign exchange student, and again last year as a CIR.]

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What’s your favourite thing about living in Kasama and Ibaraki?

I love the slow pace and small-town feel of Kasama and Ibaraki. My lifestyle now closely resembles my lifestyle back in my home state of California, USA. I’m from Fresno, a suburban sprawl surrounded by farmlands, hours by car from the excitement of San Francisco and Los Angeles. While big cities are fun, I prefer living in quieter areas. The same way that I might take a day trip to the beach or the city back home in California before retreating to the countryside, I can easily visit the beach or Tokyo for the day and then come back to Kasama.

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What’s your favourite part of the CIR job? What contributions do you
think CIRs can make to Japan?

I enjoy the variety of tasks that CIRs handle, as well as the challenge of having to work in a fast-paced (and occasionally high-pressure) environment in a foreign language. On top of the work I do in the office, my position allows me ample opportunities to get out and interact with the community, from my regular kindergarten visits to speeches in front of local organizations and events I run introducing aspects of my culture to the citizens of Kasama.

I believe that CIRs play a vital role at the forefront of grassroots internationalization in Japan. While there are many non-CIRs with excellent Japanese ability, with the resources CIRs have as government workers, we have a unique platform with which to reach out and connect with the communities we’re placed in.

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What has been your favourite experience here so far?

My favorite experience would have to be running the Kasama Tougei-no-Sato Half-Marathon last December. I’ve always loved running, but had never ran a half-marathon before. The night prior to the race, I was informed that I would have to interpret for the mayor and ambassador to Ethiopia who would both be running the half-marathon as well. Needless to say this made me extra nervous! Ultimately, the interpretation went well, and I finished the half-marathon without incident, and faster than the mayor and the ambassador! That day I felt both professionally and personally accomplished.

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Do you have a goal that you want to achieve as a CIR?

Cities and regions across Japan are currently very concerned with preparing themselves for an expected influx of foreign tourism during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. While I think that there is merit to such efforts, I see this movement as a greater opportunity to transform communities into being more open and accessible to foreigners to stay and live in. My goal is to teach more language and omotenashi workshops, as well as work to execute and promote the spread of multilingual access to goods and services, from simple things like menus at restaurants and signs on the road to more crucial things like information about healthcare and legal services.

Ibaraki’s Fireworks Festivals 2016

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 17, 8 – 8:30pm
Where: Kawarago Port and Beach, Hitachi

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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.

31st Annual Sakai Furusato Festival Fireworks

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

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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 30, 7:30 – 8:30pm
Where: Oarai Sun Beach, Oarai

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Around 3000 fireworks designed by the award-winning Nomura Fireworks will 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 21st Annual Ajigaura Beach Fireworks Festival

When: July 31, 7 – 8:30pm
Where: Ajigaura Beach, Hitachinaka

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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 around 2500 large individual fireworks, starmines, and unique custom fireworks light up the ocean.

The 59th Annual Hitachi Port Festival

When: July 31, 7:30 – 8:15pm
Where: Pier 2, Hitachi Port, Hitachi

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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 56th Annual Mito Komon Festival

When: August 5, 7:30 – 8:30pm
Where: Lake Senba, Mito

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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.

12th Annual Kokaigawa River Fireworks Festival

When: August 6, 7pm onward
Where: On the banks of the Kokaigawa River, south of Narita Bridge, Chikusei

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This is the 12th time the Kokaigawa River Fireworks Festival has been held. This beautiful display is worth witnessing for yourself.

Hitachi Kawarago Ocean Fireworks Festival

When: August 6, 7:30 – 8:30pm
Where: Kawarago Beach, Hitachi

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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.

The 50th Annual Shimotsuma Sanuma Fireworks Festival

When: August 6, 7:30 – 9pm
Where: Sanuma Lake, Shimotsuma

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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.

Toyoura School District Summer Fireworks Festival

When: August 6, 7:10 – 8pm
Where: Kawajiri Beach and Kawajiri Port, Hitachi

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Cool off on a hot summer’s night with starmines at the Kawajiri Port Swimming Spot. This event is held to promote local youth and the revitalisation of the local area, as well as to promote Kawajiri Port and the Hitachi coast.

The 11th Annual Koga Fireworks Festival

When: August 6, 7:20 – 8:50pm
Where: Koga Golf Links, Koga

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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.

Sunset Festa in Tenozaki

When: August 6, 7:30pm onward
Where: Tenozaki Park, Namegata

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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 41st Annual Kawashima Fireworks Festival

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

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

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This festival begins at noon in the park near the station with many festivities. In Juogawa River you can witness traditional cormorant fishing. In the evening a fireworks display will signal the end of the festival.

2016 Hitachi Summer Festival

When: August 9, 7:45pm onwards
Where: Ose Grand, Hitachi

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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.

37th Annual Tokai Festival Fireworks

When: August 11, 7-8:30pm
Where: Akogigaura Park, Tokai

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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.

28th Annual Nakaminato Fireworks Festival

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

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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.

52nd Annual Joso Kinugawa River Fireworks Festival

When: August 11, 6:20 – 8:25pm
Where: On the banks of the Kinugawa River, Hashimoto Undo Park, Joso

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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.

The 63rd Annual Toride Tonegawa River Fireworks

When: August 13, 7 – 8:15pm
Where: Toride Ryokuchi Undo Park, Toride

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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.

Daigo Fireworks Festival and Floating Lanterns

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

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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.

42nd Annual Gozenyama Cooling Fireworks Festival

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

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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

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This festival, commencing at 2pm, 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.

Ota Festival Fireworks

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

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

Ushiku Daibutsu Lantern Festival Fireworks

When: August 15, 7pm (dedicatory fireworks) and 9pm (main fireworks)
Where: Ushiku Daibutsu grounds, Ushiku

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

Hokota Fireworks Festival

When: August 16, 7:30 onwards
Where: Downstream of the Hokotagawa River, 15 minutes’ walk from Hokota Station

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This spectacular festival is held once every two years.

Ayumi Festival Fireworks

When: August 16, 7:30 – 8pm
Where: Ayumizaki Park, Lake Kasumigaura, Kasumigaura

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The Ayumi Festival is a major festival held each year on August 16 in Ayumizaki Park. Around 500 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 20, 8:15pm onwards
Where: Daikei Bridge riverbed, Awayama, Shirosato

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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.

22nd Annual Hitachinaka Festival Fireworks

When: August 20, 7:00 – 8:30pm
Where: JGSDF Camp Katsuta, Hitachinaka

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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, so be sure to check it out!

28th Annual Miwa Furusato Festival

When: August 20, 8 – 8:30pm
Where: Miwa Undo Park, Hitachiomiya

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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.

38th Annual Suigo Itako Fireworks Festival

When: August 20, 7:30 – 9pm
Where: A temporary site on the Kita-Tonegawa River in front of Suigo Hokusai Park, Itako

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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.

39th Annual Tone Cooling Fireworks Festival

When: August 20, 8:10 onwards
Where: The banks of the Tonegawa River downstream from Sakae Bridge, Tone

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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.

32nd Annual Ayunosato Festival

When: August 20, 7:30 – 8:10pm
Where: Seiryu Park, Hitachiomiya

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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.

2016 Inashiki Summer Festival Fireworks

When: August 20, 7 – 8:30pm
Where: Edosaki Sogo Undo Park, Inashiki

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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.

9th Annual Kitaibaraki Citizens Festival

When: August 21, 8 – 8:30pm
Where: Around Isohara Station, Kitaibaraki

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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.

38th Annual Kashima Fireworks Festival

When: August 27, 7:30 – 9pm
Where: Lake Kitaura, Ofunatsu, Kashima

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During the Kashima Fireworks Festival 12,000 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.

Naka Himawari Festival 2016

When: August 27, 7 – 7:40pm
Where: Naka Sogo Park, Naka

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31st Annual Kirasse Festival Fireworks

When: August 28, 8 – 8:45pm
Where: Hasaki Swimming Spot and the area around Sun Sun Park, Kamisu

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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 some of the largest fireworks in Ibaraki!

44th Annual Kamisu Fireworks Festival

When: September 17, 7 – 8pm
Where: Gonoike Ryokuchi Athletic Field, Kamisu

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

85th Annual Tsuchiura National Fireworks Competition

When: October 1, 6pm onwards
Where: Near the Gakuen Obashi Bridge on the banks of the Sakuragawa River

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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 2016

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!

Isohara Futatsujima Beach (Kita-Ibaraki)

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Enjoy the sight of Isohara’s local symbol, the ‘Twin Islands’ (Futatsujima) from the white sands of Isohara Beach. This beach is known for its white sands and aquamarine water. Events include the Otsu Bonbune Nagashi (floating of boats for Obon) on August 16th and the Kita Ibaraki Citizen’s Summer Festival on August 21st.

Open: July 23rd to August 15th
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
Inquiries: Kita-Ibaraki Commerce and Tourism Division   0293-43-1111

Takahagi Beach (Takahagi)

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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.

Open: July 16th to August 14th
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
Inquiries: Takahagi Tourism Association  0293-23-2121

Ishihama Beach (Hitachi)

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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.

Open: July 16th to August 14th
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
Inquiries: Hitachi Tourism and Local Products Association  0294-51-3972

Kawajiri Beach (Hitachi)

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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.

Open: July 16th to August 14th
Access: Car – 5 min from the Hitachi Kita IC on the Joban Expressway
Train – 10 min by taxi from Juo Station on the JR Joban Line
Parking: Paid
Inquiries: Hitachi Tourism and Local Products Association  0294-51-3972

Ose Beach (Hitachi)

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The closest beach to Hitachi Station. The tides form natural pools in the rocky shores that are extremely popular with children.

Open: July 16th to August 14th
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
Inquiries: Hitachi Tourism and Local Products Association  0294-51-3972

Kawarago Beach (Hitachi)

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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 the Hitachi Sand Art Festival on August 17th, and the Hitachi Kawarago Ocean Fireworks Festival on August 6th.

Open: July 16th to August 14th
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
Inquiries: Hitachi Tourism and Local Products Association  0294-51-3972

Mizuki Beach (Hitachi)

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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.

Open: July 16th to August 14th
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
Inquiries: Hitachi Tourism and Local Products Association  0294-51-3972

Kujihama Beach (Hitachi)

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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. The Hitachi Port Festival will be held on July 31st.

Open: July 16th to August 14th
Access: Car – 15 min from the Hitachi Minami Ota IC on the Joban Expressway
Train – 15 min by taxi from Omika Station on the JR Joban Line
Parking: Paid
Inquiries: Hitachi Tourism and Local Products Association  0294-51-3972

Ajigaura Beach (Hitachinaka)

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A beautiful beach spanning 1.5km curving in a pine-tree dotted arc. Popular with couples and families with young children.

Open: July 16th to August 21st
Access: Car – 1.5km 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)

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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.

Open: July 16th to August 21st
Access: Car – 5km from the Hitachinaka IC on the Kita-Kanto 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)
Inquiries: Hitachinaka Tourism Association  029-273-0116

Uba-no-futokoro Marine Pool (Hitachinaka)

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A pool in the ocean making use of the high tide. A very popular leisure spot for families with children. The Nakaminato Ocean Fireworks Festival will be held on August 11th.

Open: July 16th to August 21st (the pool will be cleaned on August 2nd)
Access: Car – 7km from the Hitachinaka IC on the Kita-Kanto Expressway
Train – 15 min walk from Tonoyama Station on the Hitachinaka Kaihin Railway
Line
Parking: Paid (100 spaces at 800 yen each)
Inquiries: Hitachinaka Tourism Association  029-273-0116

Oarai Beach (Oarai)

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A beach featuring beautiful natural scenery on a background of 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.

Open: July 16th to August 21st
Access: Car –7km on National Road 51 from the Mito-Oarai IC on the Kita-Kanto
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)

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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.

Open: July 16th to August 21st
Access: Car – 7km on National Road 51 from the Mito-Oarai IC on the Kita-Kanto
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)

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

Open: July 16th to August 21st
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

Oritsu Beach (Kashima)

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This beach features beautifully clear waters and a pretty sandy shore, making it easy for swimming. The 33rd Annual Kashima Coast Clean Up will be held on July 2nd.

Open: July 16th to August 21st
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)

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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. The 33rd Annual Kashima Coast Clean Up will be held on July 2nd. The 2015 Kashima Antlers Cup Beach Soccer Tournament will be held on August 6th and 7th.

Open: July 16th to August 21st
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

Nikkawahama Beach (Kamisu)

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

Open: July 16th to August 21st
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)

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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. The Kirasse Festival and fireworks will be held on August 28th.

Open: July 16th to August 21st
Access: Car – 60 min from the Itako IC on the Higashi Kanto Expressway
Train – 15 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