Daigo Light

When: November 3 – January 29
Where: Fukuroda Falls and other locations around Daigo
Cost: Adults 300 yen, Children 150 yen

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Starting November 3 and continuing on Friday to Sunday and holidays* until January 29, Fukuroda Falls will be transformed into a mystical space by the skills of highly acclaimed lighting technicians. The illuminations will commence at sundown and finish around 8pm, except on New Year’s Eve, when the event will continue until 2am. Parking is available on site for a fee and is limited to 900 vehicles. Be careful of ice on the road during the colder months.

Furthermore, from December 1st to January 15th, the Kuji River banks will be illuminated every night from sundown until 10pm.
*Between December 23rd and January 9th the falls will be illuminated every night

Related Events

Distribution of Onsen Discount Tickets

When: December 1 – February 28
Where: Fukuroda Falls Tunnel Entrance

Free Okukuji Shamo Hatto-jiru Soup

When: January 14, 4pm~
Where: Daigo Fukuroda Waterfall Viewing Bridge Area
First come first served.

Fukuroda Ice Garden

When: January onward
Where: Fukuroda Falls Area
The freezing of the falls depends on the weather.

Nugui yo Vouchers

From December 2 till January 29 on days that Fukuroda Falls are lit up (excluding January 1 – 3), passengers on the local bus between Fukuroda Station and Takimoto will receive one 500 yen voucher that can be used at certain restaurants and stores around Daigo. The vouchers are valid until January 29th.

33rd Annual National Frozen Falls Haiku Contest

When: February 2
Where: Daigo Bunka Fukushi Kaikan (722-1 Daigo-machi, Kuji-gun, Ibaraki)

KENPOKU ART 2016 – Mountain Route

My supervisor and I made a trip from Hitachiomiya to Daigo to see the various art pieces placed around northern Ibaraki. Some of the facilities that house the art pieces require an entrance fee. If you decide to take the weekend bus tour or the free KENPOKU shuttle bus with your friend(s), I’d recommend getting the KENPOKU Passport. The passport cost \2,500 and it will permit you one entrance to each of the facilities.

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Michi-no-Eki Hitachiomiya Kawa Plaza

E-14: Ryota Shioya – riverbed / a gathered people

The artist took into consideration the placement of the piece. The decision to permanently construct this artwork at a rest stop, Kawa Plaza, where hundreds of people will pass through daily is symbolized by river rocks which have been smoothed down by rushing water. It seems that the artist was trying to show the beauty of passing through a place.

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The Former Miwa Junior High School

E-01: Hackathon – The Sound of TapBoard

The Sound of Tapboard was an interesting use of sound and motion in order to draw the viewer into the experience. The artist created an interactive, unusual piece of art that anyone can enjoy.

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E-02: Yoichi Ochiai – Colloidal Display and Others

The artist of this piece utilized many materials to send his message to the viewers. His juxtaposition of electronic resources to portray the beautiful image of the butterfly was innovative. He successfully and stunningly created a link from the technological world to the natural one. This was one of my favorite piece to see, simply because the beautiful butterfly was so unexpected from the loud sound of the machine working.

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E-04: Hackathon/CALAR.inc

This was another piece in which the artists successfully gave the viewer an experience for all the senses. By inviting guests to walk through the storybook and view colorful videos it creates a more memorable experience. The artists’ storybook format and decision to arrange the path in a specific order urges the viewer to continue on until the end in order to truly finish the artists’ tale. The artists’ use of lighting, sound, and space helped to create an intriguing experience.

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E-05: Hiroshi Suzuki + Masato Ohki – Constellations of the earth ― Ibaraki-kenpoku-za

This was another piece in which the artist sought to draw in the viewers. By creating a participatory artwork, the entire community was able to play a part in creating the finished product. The piece combined many different elements including space satellites and radio wave reflectors, as well as the finished piece made to mimic the constellations of the earth.

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E-06: Isabelle Desjeux – The Ibaraki Inventorium

This artist’s background as a molecular biologist shaped her artwork in a fantastic way. By bringing her love of another field and incorporating it into her artwork, she succeeded in creating something not only beautiful for the viewers, but also educational. Her focus upon wildlife found in Ibaraki is a way to involve the viewers and to perhaps have them view their surroundings with a different light after seeing the piece. Her decision to place the artwork in a science classroom also creates an interesting contrast for the viewer to see beautiful work in a somewhat familiar place.

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E-07: magma – WOODSTOCK

This piece was an entire room that the artists had transformed. The whole room- from the ceiling, to the decorations and furniture, were all crafted of wood from the Miwa region. Upon walking into the room, there is a calming effect for the viewers. This calming effect is accentuated by the artist’s decision to include xylophone music and forest sounds. The unity in material gives the viewer a kind of eye-pleasing harmony.

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E-07: magma – GREAT TEACHER

In this piece, the artists worked to incorporate humor and portray their, perhaps, relatable experiences. They transformed the principal’s office and manipulated the sound, lighting, and contents of the office. They created a robot in place of the headmaster and recorded a dialogue- successfully making the principal’s office a dramatic, humorous experience. This piece puts the viewer into the shoes of a student, and reminds viewer of the feelings of listening to adults speak.

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E-08: Fumiaki Murakami – Fly Me to the Earth

The artist of this piece successfully utilized AR (augmented reality) technology in order to create a kind of looking-glass for the viewer. Upon entering the classroom, there was an airplane suspended from the ceiling. Upon closer inspection, the rear end was a lens. The viewer is invited to peer into the lens and is instantly shown real scenery and nature. The artist crafted the lens to give the viewer a bird’s-eye, virtual reality view of Hitachiomiya. The piece is interactive and successful in giving the viewer a beautiful never-before-seen view of familiar surroundings.

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E-09: Miki Yamamoto – Classroom of Ribbon around a Bomb

This piece was a storybook depicting a girl’s school life. The artist, having grown up in Ibaraki, successfully made her piece relatable to the viewer and also gave a respectful nod to her home prefecture. The illustrations in the storybook were simple and beautiful, mirroring the simple life of the girl in the story.

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The Former Yawara Seishonen-no-Ie

E-10: Zadok Ben-David – Blackfield

This piece was a surprising visual experience for the viewer. The artist crafted 27 thousand small, metallic flowers to greet upon entrance to the room. The flowers are of various colors and diverse real-life environments, but are unified by their placement. The flowers are two-dimensional, so upon further entering the room the flowers begin to change before the viewer’s eyes. The flowers, metallic on one side, are hiding thousands of colors on the other side. The artist, Zadok Ben-David, says that the piece is “a psychological installation about life and death, very moody, developing and changing while we walk along. It has two sides, black and colour, symbolising and manipulating a state of mind, yet leaving us a choice”. The symbolism in his piece was beautifully crafted.

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E-11: Wang Te-Yu – No.85

The artist of this piece created an interactive experience for the viewers by filling a room with a giant balloon. The artist invites the viewers to enter the entirely white room, feeling the ground slightly deflate with every step. The lack of color and furniture in the room create a kind of dreamy, surreal, and peaceful experience. The artist’s aim to free the viewer of outside physical sensations with the white balloon successfully places them in a different world.

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E-13: Matthew Jensen – Reflecting on the Kuji River / The Sun Returning

The artist of this piece, similar to the ‘Ibaraki Inventorium’ artwork, utilized his interests in other areas in order to create a truly beautiful finished product. He focused on the Kuji River in this piece. The piece features stunning beautiful, aerial photos of sunsets reflected upon the river. The artist also trekked along the river and collected small stones and objects that were found along the shore. By including multiple perspectives of the area, the piece truly lives up to its name and is a reflection on every part of the river.

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The Shopping district in front of Hitachi-Daigo Station

The Daigomachi Culture & Welfare Hall (大子町文化福祉会館) offers free bike rentals to tour the area. There are many artworks located near the Hitachi-Daigo Station, so riding a bike around the area is a great way to explore the town. There are several restaurants that are collaborating with KENPOKU Art 2016 to entice tourists to the area. Daigo is famous for Oku-kuji Shamo chicken, and Yamaki (弥満喜) is one of the better known restaurants in the area collaborating with the event. At Yamaki, you can enjoy yuba sashimi and Oku-kuji Shamo chicken prepared in various ways.

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F-16: Song-Ming Ang – Daigo Lost and Found

The Daigo Lost and Found piece is a historical peek into the past for the city of Daigo. Footage of the city’s festivals and events were taken decades ago and were recollected specifically for this display. The video footage, displayed on old TVs, give a glimpse into what life was like in Daigo decades ago. For current residents or those familiar with Daigo, it’s a reminder of the cultural history and values that are unique and beautiful to these residents. For newcomers, it’s a historical introduction to a city with a rich and vibrant history.

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Fukuroda Falls (Tunnel)

F-18: Jung Hye-Ryun – Serial possibility – fukuroda fall

The artist of this piece successfully transformed the tunnel which leads visitors to Fukuroda Falls in Daigo. The piece is representative of the Kuji River and winds along the overhead of the tunnel as the viewer walks. The artist created beautiful, twisting neon lights which mimic the twists and turns of the river. By symbolizing the Kuji River, he created a link between two of Daigo’s most beautiful areas.

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Autumn Leaves in Ibaraki 2016

Autumn, the season of changing leaves, is finally upon us. Blessed with a diverse natural environment, there are many places in Ibaraki that you can visit to appreciate the colourful leaves of autumn.

Fukuroda Falls (Daigo)

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One of the three great waterfalls in Japan, Fukuroda Falls is sometimes known as ‘Yodo no Taki’, a play on words that can be translated as either the four-tiered waterfall, referencing the four levels of the falls, or the four-time waterfall, as it is said that in order to appreciate their beauty, you must visit them in every season. There is parking on site as well as a store and vending machines. There are also a number of beautiful hiking trails in the area.

Trees: Maple, sawtooth oak
Best time to visit: Early to mid November
Recommended spots: The waterfall viewing tunnel, viewing platforms 1 & 2
Address: 3-19 Fukuroda, Daigo-machi, Kuji-gun, Ibaraki
Access: 10 minutes by bus from JR Fukuroda Station. Get off at Takimoto, it is ten minutes’ walk from there. If travelling by car, it is roughly 50 minutes from the Naka IC on the Joban Expressway.

Mt. Yamizo (Daigo)

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The highest peak in Ibaraki, Mt. Yamizo stands 1,022m tall and offers spectacular views of Tochigi and Fukushima Prefectures. At the summit you will find Yamizomine Shrine, Nichirinji Temple, and a virgin forest containing a variety of beech trees. Around the eighth station, you will find a group of springs from the Yamizo River.
Trees: Beech, Erman’s birch, Japanese oak, maple

Best time to visit: Late October – Early November
Recommended spots: Mt. Yamizo Viewing Platform
Address: Kaminomiya, Daigo-machi, Kuji-gun, Ibaraki
Access: 50 minutes by bus from JR Hitachi-Daigo Station. Get off at Jakechi (蛇穴) – it will take around 2.5 hours to reach the summit from there. By car, it is a 1 hour 50 minute drive from the Naka IC on the Joban Expressway.

Eigenji Temple (Daigo)

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Eigenji Temple is nicknamed the Maple Temple. As the name would suggest, the Japanese maple trees around the temple create a fantastic view as they turn brilliant shades of red when autumn arrives. Eigenji Temple is dedicated to Saraswati, the goddess of music, and its elevated location provides a splendid view of Daigo, allowing you to see all the autumn leaves in the town.

Trees: Japanese maple
Best time to visit: Mid November
Address: 1571 Daigo, Daigo-machi, Kuji-gun, Ibaraki
Access: 10 minutes’ walk from JR Hitachi-Daigo Station
Parking: 30 spaces at the temple. Temporary parking also available.

Mt. Nantai (Daigo)

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Mt. Nantai is located in the south east of Daigo, and stands 654m tall. The northern and eastern slopes are quite gentle, while the western and southern sides are steep cliffs. Mt. Nantai has been a sacred places since ancient times, and is shrouded in a mysterious atmosphere. There are many hiking courses in the area that provide splendid views.

Trees: Maple, Japanese lacquer, Japanese oak
Best time to visit: Early to mid November
Recommended spots: Tsutsujigaoka Viewing Platform
Address: Saigane, Daigo-machi Kuji-gun, Ibaraki
Access: 60 minutes’ walk from JR Saigane Station. 50 minutes’ drive from the Naka IC on the Joban Expressway.
Parking: 5 free spaces

Okukuji Valley (Daigo)

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With the beautiful Okukuji River that flows through it offering splendid views along Route 118, Okukuji Valley is ideal for a leisurely drive. Mt. Yamatsuri, located in Okukuji Prefectural Natural Park among the southern-most peaks of Fukushima Prefecture offers splendid views from season to season. In particular, the changing leaves of late October to late November set the mountain ablaze with colour.

Trees: Keyaki, Japanese maple
Best time to visit: Early to mid November
Address: Daigo-machi, Okukuji-gun, Ibaraki
Access: 15 minutes’ walk from Hitachi-Daigo Station. Roughly 50 minutes’ drive along Route 118 from the Naka IC on the Joban Expressway.

Hanazono Gorge (Kitaibaraki)

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Hanazono Gorge is located upstream of the Hanazono River, and is part of the Hanazono Hananuki Prefectural Natural Park. During autumn red and yellow leaves fall from the trees and float down the river, creating another splendid piece of autumn scenery. At the bottom of the gorge you will find Hanazono Shrine. There are two hiking trails; the Nanatsu Taki Hiking Trail that begins behind Hanazono Shrine, and the Eizomuro Hiking Trail, located 15 minutes’ drive from Hanazono Gorge. On a sunny day, you can see Mt. Fuji.

Trees: Maple, Japanese maple
Best time to visit: Early to late November
Recommended spots: Shiro Waterfall
Address: Hanazono, Kitaibaraki, Ibaraki
Access: 30 minutes by taxi from JR Isohara Station, or 25 minutes’ drive from the Kita-Ibaraki IC on the Joban Expressway
Parking: 60 spaces

Sarugajo Gorge (Kitaibaraki)

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Sarugajo Gorge is located upsteam of Hanazono Gorge. It is said that the Satake clan, after being defeated in battle, survived after receiving walnuts, akebi, and sake from monkeys that gathered in the area. Sarugajo Gorge is renowned for the beauty of its numerous waterfalls, which include Hako Waterfall, Rakuun Waterfall, and Senen Waterfall (which translates to ‘the waterfall of 1000 monkeys!). Listening to the sound of flowing water while appreciating the beauty of the changing leaves is an autumn experience you shouldn’t miss.

Trees: Yamamomiji, maple, beech
Best time to visit: Late October – mid November
Recommended spots: Hako Waterfall, Rakuun Waterfall, Senen Waterfall
Address: Ogawa, Sekimoto-cho, Kitaibaraki, Ibaraki
Access: 40 minutes by car from JR Isohara Station. 35 minutes by car from the Kita-Ibaraki IC on the Joban Expressway

Hananuki Gorge (Takahagi)

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There are splendid views along the Hananuki River from the Hananuki Dam to Namerigafuchi and the Kotakizawa Camping Ground. The view from the Shiomidaki Suspension Bridge that stretches across the gorge is particularly spectacular, even more so in autumn when the trees that grow along the river and stretch over the bridge create a gorgeous tunnel of fall colours.

Trees: Japanese maple
Best time to visit: Mid to late November
Recommended spots: Shiomidaki Suspension Bridge
Address: Ono area, Takahagi, Ibaraki
Access: 25 minutes by taxi from Takahagi Station. 20 minutes by car from the Takahagi IC on the Joban Expressway.
Parking: During the autumn leaves season there is paid parking – 80 spaces for 500 yen per vehicle at the Hananuki Parking Lot and 40 spaces for 500 yen per vehicle at the Ono Parking Lot

Ryujin Suspension Bridge (Hitachiota)

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Ryujin Suspension Bridge is located in Okukuji Prefectural Natural Park, and is located 100m above Ryujin Dam, which dams the Ryujin River. It is a 375m long pedestrian bridge and offers unique panoramic views in every season. The bridge is open from 8:30am to 5pm and costs 310 yen (210 for children) to cross.

Trees: Maple, Japanese maple
Best time to visit: Mid to late November
Address: 2133-6 Kegano, Hitachiota, Ibaraki
Opening Hours: 8:30am – 5pm
Admission: Adults 310 yen, Children 210 yen
Access: 45 minute bus ride from JR Hitachiota Station. Get off at Ryujin Otsuribashi; it is 20 minutes’ walk from there. By car, it is 45 minutes from the Hitachiota IC on the Joban Expressway.
Parking: 200 spaces

Seizanso (Hitachiota)

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Seizanso is the retreat where the second daimyo of the Mito Domain, Mitsukuni Tokugawa, spent his twilight years, from 1691 until his passing in 1700. It is a simple, single-story house with a thatched roof. From the round window in the study, you can gaze out upon the artificial miniature hill and the pond, which is shaped like the Chinese character for heart. Here Mitsukuni Tokugawa supervised the editing of the Japanese history book known as the Dai Nihonshi.

Trees: Japanese maple, ginkgo, konara oak
Best time to visit: Mid to late November
Address: 590 Arajuku-cho, Hitachiota, Ibaraki
Opening Hours: 9am – 4pm (open every day during autumn leaves season)
Access: 5 minutes by taxi from JR Hitachiota Station. 30 minutes by car from the Hitachiminamiota IC
Parking: 70 spaces

Kagoiwa (Hitachiomiya)

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This cliff face on a mountain south of Mt. Nantai in Okukuji that towers over Yuzawa Gorge has been shaped by years of wind and rain to look like a basket weave, giving the area its name. The viewing platform at the summit provides a splendid view.

Trees: Japanese maple, Japanese lacquer tree, mountain ash
Best time to visit: Late October – Late November
Address: Hitachiomiya, Ibaraki
Access: 30 minutes by car from Yamagatajuku Station. 1 hour by car from the Naka IC on the Joban Expressway
Parking: 5 spaces

Gozenyama Prefectural Natural Park (Hitachiomiya)

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The Gozenyama Prefectural Natural Park is a treasure trove of natural beauty. The view from the Naka River Bridge is reminiscent of Arashiyama in Kyoto, and is thus called the Arashiyama of Kanto. Autumn truly brings out the beauty of this region, as the leaves of the keyaki forest change and colour the landscape a variety of brilliant shades. There are over 100 varieties of mountain birds living in the park.

Trees: Keyaki, konara oak, evergreen oak
Best time to visit: Mid November – Early December
Recommended spots: Fujikura Waterfall, Belltower ruins
Address: Hitachiomiya, Ibaraki
Access: 60 minutes by bus from JR Mito Station. Roughly 25km by car from the Mito IC on the Joban Expressway
Parking: 100 spaces

Kairakuen (Mito)

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One of the three great gardens of Japan, Kairakuen was built by order of Nariaki Tokugawa, 9th daimyo of the Mito Domain, in July 1842.

Trees: Japanese maple
Best time to visit: Early to mid November
Address: 1-3-3 Tokiwa-cho, Mito, Ibaraki
Access: 15 minutes by bus from JR Mito Station. 20 minutes from the Mito IC on the Joban Expressway.

Ibaraki Prefectural Museum of History (Mito)

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The Ibaraki Prefectural Museum of History has permanent exhibits covering history from ancient to modern. There is also a traditional farm house from the Edo Period and a western-style school building from the Meiji Period that have been dismantled and reconstructed in the grounds of the museum. In November, when the leaves of the gingko trees begin to change, the museum holds the Museum Gingko Festival. With most events falling on weekends and public holidays, you can enjoy traditional Japanese music, tea ceremonies, and other activities that celebrate Japan’s history and culture.

Trees: Maple, Japanese maple, ginkgo
Best time to visit: Mid to late November
Address: 2-1-15 Midori-cho, Mito, Ibaraki
Hours: 9:30am -5pm (last entry 4:30pm, closed on Mondays)
Admission: Adults 150 yen, University Students 80 yen, school students, people over 70, and people with a physical disability certificate free
Access: 15 minutes from the Mito IC on the Joban Expressway
Parking: 127 spaces (3 spaces for persons with disabilities)

Kitayama Park (Kasama)

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In Kitayama Park, you can see the beauty of the seasons reflected in the lake that lies between the mountains. Take a walk through the park and be rejuvenated by its natural beauty. The park includes a viewing platform with 360 degree panoramic views, resting facilities, a camp ground, a barbeque area, and a roller slide. Spend time with your family and friends in this tranquil area.

Trees: Maple, Japanese maple
Best time to visit: Early to late November
Address: 1416-62 Taira-machi, Kasama, Ibaraki
Access: 20 minutes’ walk from JR Shishido Station. 5 minutes on Route 355 from the Tomobe IC on the Kita-Kanto Expressway. 20 minutes on Route 355 from the Iwama IC on the Joban Expressway.
Parking: Free

Mt. Sashiro (Kasama)

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Mt. Sashiro is a 15 minute walk from Kasama Inari Shrine. It stands 182m above sea level, and is located in the middle of the Kasama Basin. It is covered with thick forest. More than 100 varieties of plant life grow there, and it is sometimes called a natural botanical garden. The autumn leaves in the park at the foot of Mt. Sashiro are a sight to behold.

Trees: Japanese maple, ginkgo
Best time to visit: Early to late November
Recommended spots: The bell tower
Address: 1015-2 Kasama, Kasama, Ibaraki
Access: 5 minutes by car from JR Kasama Station. You can also take the Kasama Sightseeing bus from Tomobe Station and get off at Nichido Museum of Art. By car, it is 9 minutes from the Tomobe IC on the Kita-Kanto Expressway.
Parking: Available

Mt. Tsukuba (Tsukuba)

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Mt. Tsukuba is sometimes called Shiho (the purple mountain) due to the colour it turns when the sunrise hits it. Over 1000 species of plant grow on its slopes, making it a treasure trove for botanists. Its hiking trails and cable car bring many visitors all year round. From the top, you can see autumn colours across the entire Kanto Plain.

Trees: Japanese ivy, oak, yamaurushi, Japanese maple
Best time to visit:  Early to late November
Recommended spots: Mt. Tsukuba Shrine, Mt. Tsukuba summit, Miyawaki Station in the Tsukuba cable car
Address: Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Ibaraki
Access: 40-50 minutes by direct shuttle bus from TX Tsukuba Station; get off at Tsukuba-san Jinja Iriguchi or Tsutsujigaoka. 55 minutes by bus from JR Tsuchiura Station; get off at the last stop Tsukuba-san Jinka Iriguchi. You can take another bus from there 6 minutes to Tsutsujigaoka. 40 minutes by car from the Tsuchiura-Kita IC on the Joban Expressway.

Sairenji Temple (Namegata)

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Sairenji Temple is an ancient Tendai sect temple said to have been built in 782. It contains a number of cultural assets. There is a Deva gate built in 1543 that was originally two stories high. In 1790 it was rebuilt to be the main temple gate and changed into a Deva gate. The big gingko tree in the grounds is a prefecturally-designated natural monument that is said to be 1000 years old. The autumn leaves are not to be missed.

Trees: Ginkgo
Best time to visit: Late November to early December
Address: 504 Sairenji, Namegata, Ibaraki
Access: From the Joban Expressway, take Route 355, go straight through the traffic lights at the Route 354 intersection and turn left into Sairenji in roughly 3km.
Parking: 100 free spaces