From Iwase to Itako – Exploring Ibaraki on the Tsukuba Kasumigaura Ring Ring Road

View of Mt. Tsukuba

The Tsukuba Ring Ring Road is well-known cycling track in the west of Ibaraki. It was once the Tsukuba Railway, which was discontinued in 1987 and eventually turned into a scenic cycling track stretching 40km from Iwase Station to Tsuchiura Station. Recently it was extended to join the road around Lake Kasumigaura and form the 180km Tsukuba Kasumigaura Ring Ring Road. With the extension of the cycling course, the Ibaraki Prefectural Government has teamed up with seven municipalities around Lake Kasumigaura (Tsuchiura, Ishioka, Tsukuba, Itako, Kasumigaura, Sakuragawa, and Namegata) to set up a bicycle rental system allowing you to rent bikes from one of seven locations and return them to any of the other locations. We rented cross bikes and cycled one of the most popular sections of the course – the old railway track.

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We set out from Iwase Station at around 10am. We were immediately given a preview of the scenery we would enjoy along the way – rolling fields, spring flowers, and distant mountains. Not long in we discovered an optional side trip of about 3km up to Amabiki Kanon Temple http://www.amabiki.or.jp/ – unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go the whole way, but if you want an extra challenge (the roads are quite steep) and are keen to see one of the most scenic temples in Ibaraki, this is definitely an accomplishable sidetrack from the main path. The road is marked quite clearly with signs so with the help of a map you shouldn’t have much difficulty finding it.

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Our first stop was in the Makabe Rest Area. The Ring Ring Road is punctuated by six rest areas between Iwase and Tsuchiura that were once stations on the Tsukuba Railway. Now they have seats, bathrooms, and some have pumps for your bike tires. When we reached the Makabe Rest Area we departed from the road once again to cycle through the old streets of Makabe, a castle town that was planned in the Sengoku period and completed in the Edo period. 99 buildings around the town have been designated as National Registered Cultural Properties. The town is renowned for its Hinamatsuri doll displays in February and March. There is a café called Hashimoto Coffee where you can drop in for a cuppa – unfortunately, it is closed on Tuesdays, which is the day we visited.

 

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As we continued along our path we drew closer and closer to Mt. Tsukuba. When we reached the Mt. Tsukuba Rest Area, we decided to veer off the track again in search of somewhere to eat and we found Maruchu, a soba restaurant. The food was delicious so I would definitely recommend it for lunch, but take care as the location of the store is not exactly where it says it is on google maps. If you head toward the google maps pin but turn left when you reach the street with a Lawson you will find it on the right side of the street.

 

After lunch, we powered along until we got to Tsuchiura. When we arrived in the city, we ventured off toward Lake Kasumigaura. Once you arrive at the lakeside you are treated to a beautiful view of the water. If you continue around the lake you have the option of visiting the Lake Kasumigaura Environmental Science Center, a museum and research centre on the northwestern side of the lake. Inside are a number of exhibits introducing the flora. fauna, and history around Lake Kasumigaura.

Finally, we headed back toward central Tsuchiura to return our bikes and have a well-earned ice cream before catching the train back to Mito. We explored just one section of the cycling path – there are many more recommended courses to check out. Whether you want a relaxed 10km course or a more intense 80km one (you could do the whole 180km if you’re up to it!), this well-serviced cycling course has something for everyone. Check out the information below and start planning your own adventure!

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Bicycle Rental

Time: 9am – 4pm
Cost:
Road Bike: 2000 yen
Cross Bike/Mini Velo: 1500 yen
Child’s Bike: 500 yen

Recommended Courses

1. 80km Course
JR Iwase Station – JR Itako Station (approx. 6 hours)
2. 50km Course
JR Tsuchiura Station – JR Itako Station (approx. 4 hours)
3. 40km Course
JR Iwase Station – JR Tsuchiura Station (approx. 3 hours)
JR Iwase Station – TX Tsukuba Station (approx. 3 hours)
4. 10km Course
Explore the cutting edge technological city of Tsukuba and the historical city of Tsuchiura! TX Tsukuba Station – JR Tsuchiura Station (approx. 1 hour)
Websites
Tsukuba Kasumigaura Ring Ring Cycling Road Official Website http://www.rinrin-road.com/
Ibaraki Guide to the Tsukuba Kasumigaura Ring Ring Road (you can watch videos of the course and download maps!) http://www.ibarakiguide.jp/seasons/ring-ring-road.html

Locations to Pick up and Drop off Bikes

The hours listed refer to the opening hours of the facilities – pick up and drop off of bikes can be done every day between 9am – 4pm.

Sakuragawa
Iwase Station Square Takasago Ryokan
Hours: 9am -4pm (Closed during Obon and New Year’s)
Address: 174 Iwase, Sakuragawa
PH: 0296-75-2165

Tsuchiura
Lacus Marina
Hours: 9am – 5pm (closed Wednesdays from December – March)
Address: 2-13-6 Kawaguchi, Tsuchiura
PH: 0298-22-2437

Tsuchiura Machikado Kura Daitoku
Hours: 9am – 6pm (Closed on New Years Holiday)
Address: 1-3-16 Chuo, Tsuchiura
PH: 029-8242810

Ishioka
Nakamura Parking Lot
Hours: 8:30am – 5:15pm (closed weekends and public holidays)
Address: 425 Kitanemoto, Ishioka
PH: 0299-23-3399 (Ishioka Chiho Koiki Silver Jinzai Center)

Tsukuba
Tsukuba General Information Center
Hours: 8:30am – 6:30pm every day
Address: BiVi Tsukuba 1st Floor, 1-8-10 Azuma, Tsukuba
PH: 0298-79-5298

Kasumigaura
Hours: 9am – 5pm (closed Mondays except public holidays in which case it will be closed the following Tuesday)
Address: 4784 Saka, Kasumigaura
PH: 0298-40-9010

Namegata
Lake Kasumigaura Fureai Land
Hours: 9:30am – 4:30pm (closed Mondays except public holidays in which case it will be closed the following Tuesday. Closed over New Year’s)
Address: 1234 Tamatsukurikou, Namegata
PH: 0299-55-3927

Itako
Suigo Itako Tourism Association
Hours: 9am – 5pm every day
Address: 1-1-16 Ayame, Itako
PH: 0299-63-3154

How to Make a Booking

Note: If possible, please make reservations in Japanese. If you wish to book in English, please fax or email the information.

You must book three days in advance. Same day reservations will not be accepted unless there are extra bicycles available. Please note that Nakamura Parking Lot in Ishioka is reservation-only. Call, fax, or email the Lacus Marina Support Desk (details below) with the following information:

1. 氏名(グループの代表者。以下2~3同様)
Name (if you are a group, the name of one person in the group. Use the same person’s information for 2 and 3):
2. 住所及び郵便番号
Address (including post code):
3. 連絡先(携帯番号)
Contact Information (mobile phone):
4. ご利用日
Date of reservation:
5. 貸出施設及び予定時刻
Location and time you would like to collect the bikes:
6. 返却施設及び予定時刻
Location and time you will return the bikes:
7. 利用車種(台数)・ロードバイク( 台)・クロスバイク( 台)・ミニベロ( 台)
Type and number of bike(s):
Road Bike (Number of bikes you wish to reserve: )
Cross Bike (Number of bikes you wish to reserve: )
Mini Velo (Number of bikes you wish to reserve: )

There are a limited number of bikes available, so Lacus Marina will contact you to let you know if they can cater to your request after they receive it. Bikes can only be rented on a daily basis – you cannot keep them overnight.

On the day, pick up your bikes from the facility you designated. Make sure to bring some form of ID. You can also borrow a helmet free of charge (either child size, L, or M), but please understand if your size is unavailable.

Please return the bikes to the facility you designated by the time you designated.

Cancellations: Please contact the Support Desk by 4pm the day before your booking if you wish to cancel. If you are more than an hour late to pick up your bikes, your booking will be cancelled.

Caution

  • The bicycles all have a TS Mark sticker, insuring the rider with personal accident insurance and liability insurance
  • The bikes are not insured for theft or damage. If you leave the bike at any point make sure that you lock it
  • If you lose or damage the bike’s attachments (e.g. light), helmet, or key, or if they are stolen, you will have to pay for their replacement
  • Responsibility for accidents or theft that were not caused by the actions of the organisers will not be taken by the organisers
  • Please obey the traffic laws and cycling manners, and cycle safely
  • Please ensure that the tires, breaks, and gears are working correctly before you leave
  • If you are in an accident or if you have any trouble such as your bike breaking down, please call the Support Desk

Lacus Marina Cycling Support Desk
Hours: 9am – 5pm
Address: 2-13-6 Kawaguchi, Tsuchiura
PH: 0298-22-2437
FAX: 0298-26-2839
Email: info.cycle@lacusmarina.com
Website: http://www.lacusmarina.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lacusmarina.ibaraki

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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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Kenpoku Art 2016 – Ocean Route

On October 14th, I headed to the Kenpoku region to visit installation sites along the ocean route. As I am not very well-versed in art appreciation, I worried that the exhibition wouldn’t really be for me and I would have trouble writing about it, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The artworks were beautiful and thought-provoking, and accessible even to someone with my lack of expertise, and the pursuit of each work lead me to beautiful places all along the coast of northern Ibaraki. Many of the artworks were interactive, allowing you to be an active participant instead of just an observer. Whether you are an art aficionado or a total beginner, this exhibition has something for you.

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*If you purchase a Kenpoku Art Passport (2500 yen), you are provided free access to all individual exhibitions and you can collect stamps at all the locations you visit. See the official website for more details.

1. Tenshin Memorial Museum of Art

Where: 2083 Tsubaki, Otsu-machi Kitaibaraki, Ibaraki
Public Transport: 5 minutes by taxi from JR Otsuko Station
Hours: 9am – 5pm

Our first stop was the Tenshin Memorial Museum of Art in Kitaibaraki. The museum is dedicated to artist and scholar Okakura Tenshin. Some people from the south might be thinking of skipping Kitaibaraki since it’s quite far – don’t! The art installations at Tenshin Memorial Museum are definitely worth checking out.

The first work I noticed was a row of framed drawings in reddish brown ink lining a wall. There were some headphones – when we put them on we could hear children playing and chattering in Hindi. It was eerie to hear the sounds of children playing when none could be seen in room – in fact as it was still early, and there were not very many other people at all.

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We eventually found the panel labelling the work ‘kenopsia (void of human life)’ and attributing it to India-based artist Mithu Sen and describing her intentions. The use of the word ‘kenopsia’ led me on a very interesting google adventure to discover a website called the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, where the author John Koenig coins terms to describe emotions that we all feel but don’t have a word for. Kenopsia (n.) is ‘the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling with people, but is now abandoned and quiet – a school hallway in the evening, an unlit office on a weekend, vacant fairgrounds – an emotional afterimage that makes it seem not just empty but hyper-empty, with a total population in the negative, who are so conspicuously absent they glow like neon signs.’

Mithu Sen’s installation is actually in two parts – the first part, which we did not visit, is at Fujigaoka Elementary School, a former elementary school in Kitaibaraki. Mithu Sen ‘reopens’ the school by filling it with the voices of Indian children. The empty school building is infrastructure with no children to fill it, whereas a lack of infrastructure for schools is a problem in parts of India. The second part of the installation at Tenshin Memorial Museum visually represents the Indian schoolchildren who have been virtually emigrated the site via sound with numerous small portraits in red ink. The installations are an attempt by the artist to supplement the ‘void’ that each culture is experiencing. All of the portraits will be up for ‘adoption’ at the end of the exhibition – those who are interested in adopting a portrait can leave their name and contact information at the Kenpoku Art desk at Tenshin Memorial Museum.

The other artworks on display at the Tenshin Memorial museum are in an exhibition called ‘Infinity of Flowers inside Small Things’ by teamLab, a self-described ‘ultra-technologist group’ who specialise in blending art, science, technology, and creativity. The works at the museum were inspired by Okakura Tenshin and his efforts in spreading Japanese art and aesthetics around the world. This was a really fun exhibit as the artworks are digital and you can interact with many of them. To view them you enter a series of dark rooms. The first work you come across is a number of teacups on a low stage. Inside the teacups you can watch as digital flowers bloom – but if you move a teacup, the flower withers and the petals scatter. This work is titled ‘Flowers Bloom in an Infinite Universe inside a Teacup’, and is rendered entirely in real time – your actions play a part in its creation.

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In the second room there are five works. ‘Nirvana’ is a colourful depiction of animals rendered in a virtual 3D space inspired by screen printing. The screen starts blank and the animals slowly appear. In ‘The Land of Peace and Bliss’ you can watch as a city is built before your eyes. As your viewpoint slowly scrolls across the land you can see small stories playing out all over the screens. ‘Flutter of Butterflies Beyond Boarders’ is another interactive piece rendered in real time. Butterflies float around the walls of the room, the patterns on their wings evolving as they go. They through frames into other installations, dissolving the concept of boarders. The butterflies are influenced by the other artworks and by the viewers – they gravitate toward places where flowers are blooming, but if you reach out to touch one it falls to the ground. The butteflies gather around the work ‘A Whole Year per Hour, Dark’, which depicts a whole year of seasons over an hour of time through the bloom and wither of digital flowers. The final work in the room, ‘Life Survives by the Power of Life’, explores Japanese spatial awareness using teamLab’s ‘spatial calligraphy’, an interpretation of calligraphy in abstract space. Brush strokes develop into a tree which experiences the passage of time – from snow to the blooming of flowers to the teeming of life in mid-summer.

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The next room was also really fun – in ‘What a Loving, Beautiful World’ the walls are covered in kanji, and when your shadow touches one it materialises into the thing it represents – the kanji for thunder and lightning, 雷, creates a booming sound and flashes of light. If you touch 雨 rain will begin to fall – 鳥 sends small birds flying around the room. You are creating the artwork with your movements, and the things you create will interact – birds and insects will flutter around the flowers, but are scared if you unleash fire, and if you create wind you can watch it blow the things around it. I recommend experimenting and seeing how the different manifestations interact, it’s loads of fun!

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Outside this room you will find a table with virtual reality headsets. This work, ‘Spatial Calligraphy: Circle, Infinity’, allows you to draw spatial calligraphy with a small controller. The strokes you drawn materialise into 3D and float away into the sky. It takes a little while to get the hang of it but it was a lot of fun seeing what kinds of shapes could be created and how they would look in 3D.

2. Rokkakudo

Where: 727-2 Izura, Otsu-cho, Kitaibaraki, Ibaraki
Public Transport: 10 minutes by taxi from JR Otsuko Station
Hours
October: 8:30am – 5:30pm
November: 8:30am – 5pm
Last entry 30 minutes before closing. Closed Mondays or Tuesday when Monday is a national holiday.

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After the Tenshin Memorial Museum, we visited Rokkakudo, the famous seaside meditation retreat of Okakura Tenshin. It was washed away in the 2011 tsunami, but was rebuilt in 2012. At this site you will find two artworks – ‘Weeds’ by Tokyo-based artist Yoshihiro Suda, a collection of wooden sculptures of wild grass and flowers inspired by the eastern aesthetics of simplicity and transience championed by Okakura Tenshin and present through the history of eastern art, and ‘Artificial Rock No. 109’ by China-based artist Zhan Wang, a celebration of Okakura Tenshin’s innovative and exploratory spirit, which coexisted with his love of eastern aesthetics.

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One of the best parts of touring the Kenpoku Art sites is enjoying the natural beauty of the areas where they are placed. The Izura coast and area surrounding Rokkakudo is absolutely stunning.

3. Sendo Ryori Tenshinmaru (lunch)

Where: 710 Izura, Otsu-cho, Kitaibaraki, Ibaraki
Access: 3 minutes’ walk from Rokkakudo
Hours:
Tuesday – Saturday: 11:30am – 2:30pm, 5:30 – 9pm
Weekends and Public Holidays: 11:30am – 7:30pm
Closed Mondays
Cost: 1000~1900 yen

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For lunch, we chose a restaurant near Rokkakudo called Sendo Ryori Tenshinmaru. I had been told by coworkers that the servings were quite large, but that was an incredible understatement. The restaurant offers takeaway boxes for 10 yen each for people who cannot finish their meals, and I guarantee that you will be using one, especially if you get the tendon set like me. The tempura was delicious – an assortment of fish, squid, ashitaba leaves, and a slice of sweet potato – but I could only eat about a quarter of it. The rest of it I packed up and took home for later. Tenshinmaru offers a number of other seafood dishes including kaisendon, nizakana, and a tempura set. Come with an empty stomach!

4. Takahagi Beach Takado Maehama Coast

Where: Takado, Takahagi, Ibaraki
Access: 10 minutes by taxi or 20 minutes’ walk from JR Takahagi Station East Exit
Hours: 9am – 5pm

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The next location we visited was the Takado Maehama Coast in Takahama, where two artworks were on display on the shore – US-based artists Ilya & Emilia Kabakov’sThe Fallen Sky’, a giant canvas painted with the sky, sits propped up as though it had indeed fallen from above and pierced the sand. A panel beside the work explains the tale of this piece of sky in quite a lot of detail, leaving you wondering how much of the story is true. Finding the artwork and reading the story is part of the fun, so I’ll let you go discover it for yourself.

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The other artwork on the beach was particularly interesting to me because it resembled a mystery that occurred in my town while I was in high school. In the middle of the night, somebody painted several of the wave blocks on the sea wall bright colours. Although their act was technically vandalism, the locals fought to have it left as it brightened up the scenery and made it more interesting to look at. UK-based artist Nitipak Samsen’s artwork ‘Tetrapad’ had a similar story – the artist became interested in the many wave blocks that can be found along Japan’s shoreline, commonly referred to as ‘tetrapods’, and mimicked them using a beach ball-like material, allowing you to look at industrial infrastructure in a new light.

5. Takado Kohama Coast

Where: 848-8 Takado, Takahagi
Access: 10 minutes by taxi or 20 minutes’ walk from JR Takahagi Station East Exit
Hours: 9am – 5pm

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Kohama Coast is a beautiful area that I wouldn’t have thought to visit without the opportunity created by Kenpoku Art. It is included on Japan’s list of the top 100 most beautiful beaches, and it well deserves the accolade. It didn’t hurt that the weather was so lovely – I could have chilled on the beach all day. The work on display here is ‘Soul Shelter’ by Thailand-based artist Sudsiri Pui-ock – it is a huge, beautifully sculpted hermit crab shell, but instead of a hermit crab a human hand has taken up residence inside. It is unsettling at first glance, but the artist uses the work to question the compatibility of humans with their environment and comment on our ability to seek out and reside in temporary spaces and shelters.

6. Hozumike Residence

Where: 2337-1 Kamitezuna, Takahagi
Public Transport: 10 minutes by bus from JR Takahagi Station (take a bus bound for Sekiguchi (関口) and get off at Kawabata Iriguchi (川側入口) timetable in Japanese here)
Hours: 9am – 4pm

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Our next stop was the Hozumike Residence, a traditional Japanese residence in Takahagi built in 1789, where four artworks are on display. ‘cockle of pearl blue – to the sky, from the sky’ by Ibaraki-based artist Kosho Ito is a ceramic work with 3000 (!) pieces, which are placed in gardens outside the residence. Each piece is entirely unique, and the pearl-blue glaze that covers them reflects and scatters the sunlight. Strolling around the garden looking at each of the clusters of ceramic pieces was very relaxing.

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The Cabinet of Doctor Komo’ by Vietnam-based artist Sandrine Llouquet is an unsettling collection of objects inside a dimly lit room with an interesting tale. The collection is based on a story made by the artist of a Dutch doctor living in the Hozumike Residence. The artist researched the Kenpoku area and cultural aspects of the Edo period, including yokai and misemono-goya. The collection of creepy objects, including a mummified figure in a case, a saber tooth tiger skull, a tiny hand, and a number of grotesque framed drawings lining the walls, is based on the western practice of a cabinet of curiosities, popular with scholars from the 15th – 18th century. It’s interesting examining the objects and trying to work out their origins – there was a large paining of a kappa on one of the cupboard doors.

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As a person, gaze up to the sky and stand on the ground’ by Tokyo-based artist Yuji Ueno was another interesting exhibit. In order to view it you must enter a room that is almost entirely pitch black. At the top of a pile of what looks like soil or woodchips (I couldn’t really tell since it was so dark) blooms a single flower. Mr. Ueno is a floral artist interested in ikebana, and the flower was made via 3D printing.

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The final artwork at the Hozumike Residence is ‘Web of Life’ by US-based artist Debbie Han. When I first entered the room where the work is on display, all I could see was a tangle of copper-coloured wires – however, as you look closer you realise the wires form a huge collection of facial expressions. All of the wires are connected, suggesting at the connectivity of human life even as we are all seeing things from different perspectives and experiencing life in different ways. It’s a lot of fun walking around the work looking at the different faces hidden in the wires and interpreting their expressions.

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7. Hagi no Chaya

Where: 2337-1 Kamitezuna, Takahagi (Hozumike Residence)
Public Transport: 10 minutes by bus from JR Takahagi Station (take a bus bound for Sekiguchi (関口) and get off at Kawabata Iriguchi (川側入口) timetable in Japanese here)
Hours: 10am – 4pm (Lunch menu 11am – 2:45pm)

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From September 17 – December 4, there is a temporary restaurant called Aki no Chaya at the Hozumike Residence in Takahagi. There are a number of lunch options on the menu, including steak and hamburg steak made from Hitachi Beef. We decided to check out the desert menu, since we had already eaten earlier in the day, and we were not disappointed. I ordered a hozuki no-bake cheesecake dessert set. Edible hozuki, also known as a ground cherry or Chinese lantern plant, is a specialty of Takahagi, and this one dish utilised it in a number of ways. There was a small no-bake cheesecake with a sweet hozuki sauce topped with a hozuki that had been dipped in white chocolate, small slices of hozuki decorating the plate, and a scoop of hozuki ice cream. The set came with a drink of your choice. I highly recommend stopping by Aki no Chaya if you visit the Hozumike Residence! Although we did not order from the lunch menu, it also looked quite delicious.

8. Oiwa Shrine

Where: 752 Irishiken-cho, Hitachi, Ibaraki
Public Transport: 35 minutes by bus from JR Hitachi Station (Take the no. 60 bus bound for Higashi Godo (東河内) and get off at Oiwa Jinja Mae (御岩神社前) timetable in Japanese here)
Hours: 9am – 5pm

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It’s hard for me to choose a favourite venue of those we visited, but Oiwa Shrine might be it. Located in the middle of a forest of tall beautiful Japanese cedar trees, including one with a triple trunk estimated to be 500 years old, this shrine has a history reaching back almost 700 years.

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As you walk through the trees, you will soon spot ‘Mirage in the Forest’ by Sweden-based Akane Moriyama. This instillation is made from roughly 6000 thin strips of film suspended in the trees. As they sway in the breeze they catch and reflect the sunlight, giving a slightly different impression depending on the angle you view them from. The work captures the spiritual atmosphere of this beautiful mountain shrine.

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The second work at Oiwa Shrine is a ceiling painting inside Sai Shrine, one of the shrines inside the Oiwa Shrine precinct. The painting, titled ‘Oiwasan Unryu-zu’ by Kagawa-based artist Miki Okamura, takes a new approach to ceiling paintings, which typically depict the world seen from the ground looking up. This painting of a dragon flying over the mountains depicts the world as seen from above, a concept influenced by the modern progression of satellite technology and space travel. However, the mythical subject of the painting links back to humanity’s persistent belief in and connection to the spiritual. The painting will remain in the shrine even after the Kenpoku Art Festival finishes.

9. Hitachi Civic Center

Where: 1-21-1 Saiwai-cho, Hitachi, Ibaraki
Public Transport: 3 minutes’ walk from JR Hitachi Station Central Exit
Hours: 10am – 5pm

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There are six artworks on display at the Hitachi Civic Center, although we did not have time to see them all. My first thought upon viewing ‘Crystal Palace: The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nuclear Nations’ by Kyoto-based artists Ken + Julia Yonetani was that this collection of glowing neon green chandeliers looked like they belonged in a haunted house – they reminded me of popular depictions of ghosts and ghostly activity. Each chandelier is named after a country, and its size is determined by the scale of that country’s nuclear energy production. The chandeliers are made from uranium glass. In an adjoining room there is another artwork by the same artists – fragile faeries under glass jars rotating like figures in a music box to ‘It’s a Small World After All’. If you look closer, you will discover that their wings are actually real butterfly wings, and not just any butterflies – these particular butterflies were hatched from eggs collected from a location 10km away from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant for the purpose of investigating the effect of radiation on wildlife in the area. The figures, which at first seem charming, quickly take on a different light as you read about intention of the artwork.

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In the Civic Center lobby you will find a tower topped by a retro TV set. ‘HITACHI Denrin Tower’ by Tokyo-based Ei Wada is actually made up on a number of TVs encased inside the walls of the tower. The staff by the tower will hand you a small radio device – by tuning it and holding it at different distances from the tower you can search for a secret song. As for what the song is, I will let you discover that for yourself.

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Stepping outside of the Civic Center you will find ‘Noah’s Bus’ by Finland and Germany-based artist Tea Mäkipää. From the outside, it looks like an old bus with some plant life growing out of the roof – if you get closer and peer inside, it is filled with life. Not knowing what the bus contained was half the fun – I was quite surprised when suddenly a white rabbit hopped by before my eyes. The bus also contained Guinea pigs, budgerigars, a Russian turtle, and a pair of black and white Laced Polish chickens. The plants inside the bus can all be found in the Hitachi region, and the work invites viewers to think about the relationship between urban and natural environments. The animals residing in the bus are cared for daily by staff from Kamine Zoo.

10. Hitachi Station

Where: 1-1-1 Saiwai-cho, Hitachi, Ibaraki
Public Transport: JR Hitachi Station
Hours: 9am – 8pm

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Although described as the gateway to the Kenpoku Art Festival, Hitachi Station was actually our last stop. The walls of the station building are almost entirely made of glass, and the station is located right on the ocean, so you can enjoy a spectacular view from the second floor. Throughout the Kenpoku Art Festival, the glass corridor of Hitachi Station has been decked out in rainbow colours by France-based artist Daniel Buren, in an installation titled ‘In the corridor: the Four Rainbows, work in situ, Daniel Buren for Kenpoku Art 2016. Japan’. As Hitachi Station is commonly the first stop for visitors, this colourful gateway is the perfect entrance to the festival.

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If you turn right after leaving the ticket gates, you will find the other installation at Hitachi Station, ‘Landscape Magic Lantern’ by Ibaraki-based artist Fumiaki Murakami. The installation is in the form of what appears to be a regular, if not funkily-shaped, telescope. Peer into the lens, however, and you will see fantasy and reality collide as stories from the ancient text Hitachi no Fudoki play out before your eyes right outside the station window.

Kenpoku Art 2016 is on all around northern Ibaraki until November 20th. Check out the website for information on shuttle buses, bus tours, and events throughout the festival.

Kochia Carnival!

When: September 17th (Saturday) ~ October 23rd (Sunday)
Where: Hitachinaka, Hitachi Seaside Park
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Autumn, the season when Kochia changes its color to red.
When autumn begins, kochia transform Miharashi Hill from green to sea of red. At the bottom of the hill, cosmos sway with the autumn wind, so come enjoy the magnificent view at Hitachi Seaside Park.

Growing diligently under the hot summer heat, kochia changes its color to bright red when it starts to feel the gentle breeze of autumn. Now, the fun of Kochia Carnival is about to begin! During this carnival, there will be various events for you to experience. “Kochia Carnival!”

On the last day (October 23rd) Admission is FREE!
Admission is also free on October 23rd (Sunday)

Dates: September 17th (Saturday) ~ October 23rd (Sunday)
Place: Hitachi Seaside Park
Hours: 9:30am ~ 5:00pm
Open Everyday During the Season
Admission Fee: Adult ¥410, Senior Citizens ¥210, Child ¥80
Parking: Bus ¥1,550, Car ¥510, 2-Wheel Vehicles ¥260

Directions:
By Car – Via Kitakanto Motorway Hitachinaka IC, 1km from Hitachinaka Toll Road Hitachi Seaside Park IC
By Train – JR Joban Line “Katsuta Station”, then 15 minutes by bus
Contact Hitachi Seaside Park, Hitachi Park Management Center
TEL: 029-265-9001

Fruit Picking in Ibaraki

As Japan’s second biggest producer of agricultural products, Ibaraki is heaven for fruit lovers with a number of farms and orchards open to visitors. In autumn, many of these places offer fruit picking experiences, giving you the opportunity to enjoy freshly picked seasonal fruit with your friends and family.
Note: The phone numbers provided will most likely only be able to handle queries in Japanese

Asian Pears (Nashi)

Ibaraki is the number one producer of Asian pears in the Kanto region, and the number two producer of the kosui and hosui varieties nationwide. They are mainly grown in Kasumigaura, Ishioka, Chikusei, Shimotsuma, and Yachiyo. Asian pears have been grown in Ibaraki since the Edo Period, and it is one of the oldest production areas in Japan.

Where can I go Asian pear picking?

Mito
Late August – Late September
Mito-shi Kajuengei Kumiai Renraku Kyōgikai (029-243-9312)

Shirosato
Late August – Mid September
Miyamoto Kankō Kajuen (029-289-3551)

Kasumigaura
Early August – Late October
Chiyoda Fruit Tree Tourist Association (0299-59-2116)

Tsuchiura
Mid August – Late September
Little Farm (029-862-3542)

Grapes

Ibaraki’s vineyards are very popular for their fruit picking experiences. You can try your hand at harvesting a number of different varieties of delicious grapes between July and October, from Kyoho grapes to western varieties that can be eaten with the skin on.

Where can I go grape picking?

Hitachiota
Early September – Mid October
JA Ibaraki Mizuho Hitachiota Budō Bukai Jimukyoku (0294-70-3488)

Tokai
Late August – Early October
Shimizu Budō En (029-283-0278)

Hitachi
September
Nakazato Leisure Nōen (contact JA Ibaraki Hitachi Nakazato Branch, 0294-59-0101)
Orikasa Budō Kankō Nōen (contact JA Ibaraki Hitachi Hidaka Branch 0294-42-4415)

Naka
Mid August – Late August
Kamigane Budō En (029-298-3963)

Mito
Early September – Late September
Mito-shi Kajuengei Kumiai Renraku Kyōgikai (029-243-9312)

Ishioka
Early August – Mid October
Yasato Kankō Kaju Kumiai (0299-43-1111)

Kasumigaura
Late August – Mid October
Chiyoda Fruit Tree Tourist Association (0299-59-2116)

Apples

Most of Ibaraki’s apples are produced in the cooler mountainous areas such as Daigo, and you can enjoy their crisp sweetness between September and November.
When and where can I go apple picking?

Daigo
Mid September – Late November
Okukuji Ringo no Mura
Okukuji Ringo no Furusato
Okukuji Ringo En
Okukuji Asakawa Ringo Danchi
Okukuji Shizen Kyūyō Mura
For more information, contact the Daigo Tourism Association 0295-72-0285

Hitachiomiya
Mid September – Late November
Takamura Ringo En (0295-57-3775)
Late September – Late November
Sawayaka Kajuen (0295-57-2711)

Hitachi
Early September – Early December
Nakazato Leisure Nōen (contact JA Ibaraki Hitachi Nakazato Branch, 0294-59-0101)

Mito
Early September – Early December
Mito-shi Kajuengei Kumiai Renraku Kyōgikai (029-243-9312)

Shirosato
Early October – Late November
Miyamoto Kankō Kajuen (029-289-3551)

Kasama
Late September – Late November
Fujieda Ringo En (0296-74-3060)

Ishioka
Late September – Late November
Yasato Kankō Kaju Kumiai (0299-43-1111)

Ushiku
Mid September – Early December
Kankō Nōen Naganuma Ringo En (029-875-0592)

Persimmons

Ibaraki is the northernmost area where persimmons can be grown. They are grown widely throughout Ibaraki though mainly in the south of the prefecture. The persimmons grown in the Yasato area in Ishioka have been gifted to the Imperial family since 1955, which speaks volumes about their delicious flavour.

Where can I go persimmon picking?

Ishioka
Late September – Late November
Yasato Kankō Kaju Kumiai (0299-43-1111)

Kasumigaura
Late September – Late November
Chiyoda Fruit Tree Tourist Association (0299-59-2116)

Tsuchiura
Mid October – Mid November
Little Farm (029-862-3542)

Melons

Ibaraki is the number one producer of melons nationwide. The Earl’s Favourite variety is grown through summer and autumn mainly in Hokota, Yachiyo, and Ibarakimachi, and it comes into season during October. In Japan, melons are very popular as gifts.

Where can I go melon picking?

Sakuragawa
Early September – Mid October
KEK Chokuei Iwase Nōjō (0296-76-0744)

Hokota
Early September – Early October
Sun Green Asahi (0291-37-4147)
Early September – Late October
Forest Park Melon no Mori (0291-33-5621)

Mandarins

Mt. Tsukuba is said to the northernmost area for growing mandarins, and most of Ibaraki’s mandarin producers are located in that area. The Fukure mandarin from the foothills of Mt. Tsukuba is only 3cm in diameter and are known for their strong acidic flavour.

Where can I go mandarin picking?

Ishioka
Mid October – Late November
Yasato Kankō Kaju Kumiai (0299-43-1111)

Sakuragawa
Early November – Late December
Sakayori Kankō Mikan Kumiai (0296-55-4330)

Tsukuba
Early November – Late December
Kessoku Mikan En (029-867-0688)

Chestnuts

Ibaraki is the number one producer of chestnuts nationwide, and Kasama, Kasumigaura, and Ishioka are the main production areas. Delicious when simply boiled, they take on a whole other level of tastiness when candied or simmered in their astringent skin.

Where can I go chestnut picking?

Kasumigaura
Early September – Late October
Chiyoda Fruit Tree Tourist Association (0299-59-2116)

Tsukuba
Late September – Early October
Ogawa Blueberry En (029-836-1312)

Dried Sweet Potatoes

Whilst not a fruit, sweet potatoes are a healthy food packed with vitamins and dietary fibre, and Ibaraki is one of Japan’s top producers. Hokota and Namegata are the main production areas. 97% of Japan’s dried sweet potato is produced in Ibaraki.
Where can I see dried sweet potato being made/go sweet potato picking?

Ishioka
Asahi Satoyama Gakkō (0299-51-3117)

Kasumigaura
Chiyoda Fruit Tree Tourist Association (0299-59-2116)

Shimotsuma
Beers Park Shimotsuma Fureai Taiken Nōjō (0296-30-5121)

Hokota
Forest Park Melon no Mori (029-133-5621)

Tokai
Hoshi-imo Kōbō (029-283-0278)

Mt. Tsukuba Onsen – Edoya

After viewing the beautiful plum forest on the side of Mt. Tsukuba or after a climb to the top, nothing is more relaxing than a dip in one of the local onsen. Nestled at the foot of Mt. Tsukuba next to Mt. Tsukuba Shrine is Edoya, a traditional Japanese inn (or ryokan) and onsen.

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Although the three current buildings that make up the ryokan date from between 1968 and 1985, Edoya’s rich history can be traced back to 1628 during the Edo Period. After the Mt. Tsukuba Chuzenji Temple was built by Tokugawa Iemitsu, the area saw a sudden increase in worshipers, and Edoya was built to help meet those needs. After the temple was dismantled in 1872, the owner at the time built a western style mansion on the site, called the Holland Mansion, in 1873 in order to continue to draw visitors to the area.

Holland Mansion (Courtesy of Mt. Tsukuba Onsen - Edoya)

Over the years, Edoya has had many important and famous guests, including the 19th Sumo yokozuna (grand champion) Taniemon, Hitachiyama (born in Mito), poets Hakushu Kitahara and Yau Yokose, and even Emperor Showa (Hirohito) in 1985.

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Nowadays, Edoya is still enjoyed by visitors, both from within Japan and from abroad. For those who only want to stay the day, Edoya is a great place to stop and relax. Inside, one can enjoy lunch at its café Seseragi, or just enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while resting your feet in the ashiyu (footbath) located on the veranda overlooking a small river and greenery. Day visitors can also take a dip in Edoya’s onsen, which also overlooks the same wonderful greenery, and refresh after a long day’s hike around the area. For those looking for a nice place for dinner, Edoya is also home to the Japanese style restaurant Yusentei, where guests can enjoy a private dinning atmosphere.

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For those who wish to experience a traditional Japanese ryokan, Edoya offers Japanese style rooms to stay the night. With a large range of rooms, Edoya can accommodate between 2 to 7 people per room, making it a great place to stay for any occasion. They also have rooms with western style beds for those who want to still experience a traditional ryokan without sleeping on the floor on a futon. As most rooms do not have a bath, guests can bathe in the onsen for free (although rooms with baths are also available upon request). Also included in the price for most plans is a delicious Japanese style dinner and breakfast held in a dining area.

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Edoya also offers banquet rooms that can be rented out for dinners, weddings, enkai (or drinking parties), and even office meetings. They also offer the option to book a free shuttle bus to and from Tsukuba Station, offering easy access from Tokyo, and to those who don’t want to hassle renting a car (or just driving in general).

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While the ryokan is open all year round, it is especially popular during certain times of the year. The first is during the Plum Blossom Festival that runs between late February and late March. The next is during in the fall when Mt. Tsukuba turns red, yellow, and orange with the colors of autumn. Also, as Edoya is located right next to Mt. Tsukuba Shrine, it can become quite busy when shrine festivals take place.

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Whether you find yourself at Mt. Tsukuba just for the day, or decide to spend a weekend relaxing, Edoya is definitely worth a stop!

Address: 728 Tsukuba, Tsukuba 300-4352
TEL: 029-866-0321
Website: www.tsukubasan.co.jp (available in Japanese and Chinese)
Price: Lunch 3,000 yen/ person~
Stay (Dinner and Breakfast) 16,000 yen/ person~

Mt. Tsukuba

There is a saying in Japanese, though it does not seem to be so well known – ‘Fuji in the west, Tsukuba in the east’. Mt. Fuji is undoubtedly Japan’s most famous mountain, but Mt. Tsukuba, located in the west of Ibaraki, also has a rich history with the local area, and is listed as one of Japan’s ‘hyakumeizan’, or 100 famous mountains. It is easily distinguishable by its characteristic double peaks, known as Mt. Nantai and Mt. Nyotai.

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Legend has it that thousands of years ago, a deity descended from the heavens and asked Mt. Fuji and Mt. Tsukuba for refuge. Mt. Fuji refused, proudly assuming that it did not need the blessings of a deity as it was already so grand. Mt. Tsukuba, however, humbly welcomed the deity. Now, Mt. Fuji is cold and barren, while Mt. Tsukuba is teeming with life. It is believed that Japan’s creator gods, Izanami no Mikoto and Izanagi no Mikoto, are enshrined in the ancient shrine that sits on its summit. Mt. Tsukuba is a feature in poems and stories reaching back to the Nara Period (710-794).

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Nowadays, Mt. Tsukuba is a popular hiking destination, and there are several trails you can take to the summit. One of the most popular is the Miyugahara trail that starts near Mt. Tsukuba Shrine, conveniently accessible via a shuttle bus from Tsukuba Station.  That path will take you around two hours at a moderate pace to reach the saddle between the two peaks. From there, climbing up to either peak will take you around 10-15 minutes. For those who just want to see the top without breaking a sweat, there is a cable car that will take you close to the top of Mt. Nantai.

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We decided to try out another trail that starts at the Tsutsujigaoka Ropeway Station and takes you to the top of Mt. Nyotai. You start out on the Otatsuishi trail, which eventually meets up with the Shirakumobashi trail. The ropeway will also take you to the summit. We hiked the trail up and caught the ropeway down. I recommend this method – you can work hard on the way up then coast on the way down! The view from the ropeway is definitely worth checking out.

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The path starts next to an old playground – after climbing for about 300m, you will reach Tsutsujigaoka Plateau, where you can stop to admire the view. As the path climbs it becomes more wooded – you can see a variety of trees, including Japanese cypress, Japanese evergreen oak, and beech. You might also be lucky enough to see some colourful butterflies – swallowtails, silver-washed fritillary, and copper are often seen along the Otatsuishi trail.

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The path takes roughly 40 minutes to the point that it merges with the Shirakumobashi trail, and there is a rest area where the two paths meet. From there, along the Shirakumobashi trail, it will take you around 15 minutes to reach the top of Mt. Nyotai. Along the way you will see a number of interesting rock formations, some of which have signs explaining their names and history. Several have some significance in Shinto and Buddhist customs. You can also see the ropeway off to the side of the path.

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The summit commands a splendid view of the Kanto Plain. On a clear day, you can see Tokyo Skytree, and sometimes even Mt. Fuji in the distance. From there you have the option of hiking the trail that connects Mt. Nyotai to Mt. Nantai, where you could jump on the Shizen Kenkyuu trail that winds around the summit of Mt. Nantai.

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Once you’re ready to head down, you can either head back along one of the trails, take the cable car from the saddle, or take the rope way from Mt. Nyotai. We chose the third option, and enjoyed a well-earned lunch at one of the restaurants near the Tsutsujigaoka Ropeway Station. And of course no venture in Japan is complete without buying some delicious local souvenirs!

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Do you enjoy onsen? There’s nothing better at the end of a long hike than a soak in a hot bath! There are a number of ryokan with onsen around Mt. Tsukuba Shrine near the base of the mountain. We visited Edoya – read about it in our upcoming One Day in Ibaraki article!

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Mt. Tsukuba is climbable all year round, though autumn and spring provide the most charming scenery. In late winter/early spring, you can check out the plum blossoms in the Plum Forest during the Mt. Tsukuba Plum Blossom Festival. In autumn, you can enjoy the brilliant reds and oranges of the changing leaves – during November, the mountain is lit up in the evenings and the cable car operates until late. It is definitely worth visiting in both seasons!

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Access

By Public Transport
To Tsutsujigaoka: Accesible via shuttle bus from Tsukuba Station (50 minutes), Numata (20 minutes), or Tsukuba-san Jinja Iriguchi (10 minutes).
To Mt. Tsukuba Shrine (Tsukuba-san Jinja Iriguchi): Accessible via shuttle bus from Tsukuba Station (40 minutes) or Numata (10 minutes).
To Numata: Accessible by shuttle bus from Tsukuba-san-guchi (3 minutes) or Tsukuba Station (30 minutes).
To Mt. Tsukuba Entrance (Tsukuba-san-guchi): Accessible via shuttle bus from Tsukuba Station (35 minutes) or regular bus from Tsuchiura Station (50 minutes)

By Car
Those driving can reach the cable car by entering Tsukuba-san Jinja (筑波山神社) into their GPS System, or the ropeway by entering Tsukuba-san Keisei Hotel (筑波山京成ホテル).

Mt. Tsukuba Cable Car/Ropeway Website (includes maps and trail information)