Higashiyama Kaii Toshodaiji Temple Mieido Wall Painting Exhibition

When: 9:30am – 5pm (last entry 4:30pm) February 11th – April 2nd, 2017
Where: The Museum of Modern Art, Ibaraki (666-1 Higashikubo, Senbacho, Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture 310-0851)
Access: 20 minutes’ walk from Mito Station, or 5 minutes by bus (take any bus from bus stop no.8 headed for Haraizawa (払沢) or Hongo (本郷) and get off at Bunka Center Iriguchi (文化センター入口). It is 5 minutes’ walk from there)

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Toshidaiji Temple Mieido Wall Painting  ‘Tosei’ (section) 1975 Property of Toshodaiji Temple

This exhibition is a rare opportunity to see a full view display of the wall paintings from the Mieido in Toshodaiji temple, which are usually not on display to the public.

Higashiyama Kaii (1908 – 1999) is one of Japan’s most celebrated artists from the postwar period. He is known for the deep spirituality found in his clear-cut artwork and for the rich expression in his landscapes.

The 68 panel wall paintings of Toshodaiji Temple took the artist 10 years to complete. In order to honour Jianzhen, the founder of the temple who overcame great difficulty to reach Japan from China, Higashiyama travelled around both China and Japan, sketching and planning the paintings. The first section of paintings was dedicated in 1975 and depicts the rich natural environment of Japan, while the second section, dedicated in 1980, depicts Jianzhen’s homeland China.

Sketches, drafts, and experimental works by Higashiyama will also be on display.

 

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Winter Illuminations in Ibaraki 2016 – 2017

Daigo

Daigo Light

When: November 3 – January 29, sunset – 8pm*
Where: Fukuroda Falls
Cost: Adults 300 yen, Children 150 yen
Website

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*Illuminations will be on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays only. Between December 23rd and January 9th the falls will be illuminated every night. On New Year’s Eve, the illuminations will continue until 2am.

Kuji River Illumination

When: December 1 – January 15, sunset – 10pm
Where: Along the banks of the Kuji River in Daigo

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Hitachi

Hitachi Starlight Illumination

When: November 19 – December 25, 5 – 10pm (5 – 8pm on December 25)
Where: Hitachi Civic Center Shin Toshi Square, Hitachi Station area
Website

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Takahagi

Hikari no Pagent in Takahagi

When: December 3 – January 6, sunset – 11pm
Where: JR Joban Line Takahagi Station Rotary Niji no Hiroba

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Hitachinaka

Christmas Illumination

When/Where:
Sawa Station: December 1 – January 9, 4:30pm – midnight
Nakaminato Station: December 2 – January 9 4:30pm – 11pm
Katsuta Station: December 5 – January 9 4:30pm – 1am

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Tokai

Tokai “make a wish” Illumination

When: December 3 – February 18, 5pm – midnight
Where: In front of the escalators outside the West Exit of Tokai Station
Website

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Mito

Ibaraki Kenmin Bunka Centre 50th Anniversary Illuminations

When: November 13 – December 25, 5 – 10pm
Where: Ibaraki Kenmin Bunka Centre (697 Higashikubo, Senba-cho, Mito)
Website

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Art Tower Mito Light Up Project

When: October 29 onwards, 5-10pm (no illuminations on Mondays unless Monday is a public holiday. Illuminations every day over the new year’s period)
Where: Mito Art Tower (1-6-8 Goken-cho, Mito)
Website

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Tsuchiura

Hikari ga Tsukuru Art Suigo Sakura Illumination

When: November 19 – February 19, 5 – 9pm
Where: In front of the windmill in Kasumigaura Comprehensive Park, Tsuchiura (1051 Oiwata, Tsuchiura)
Website

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24th Annual Tsuchiura Winter Festival

When: November 29th – January 9th, 5 – 11pm
Where: Tsuchiura Station East and West Exit, where the old waterfall used to be at Tsuchiura Mall

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Tsukuba

Mt. Tsukuba Ropeway Night Walk Stardust Cruising

When: September 17th – February 26th*, 5 – 9pm (every 20 minutes)
Where: Mt. Tsukuba Ropeway, Tsukuba
Cost: 1000 yen per person, free for children elementary school aged and younger
Website

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*Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays, and December 23 – 30th only. Not operating in poor weather, on December 31 – January 2, or February 4-5

Tsukuba Expo Center Christmas Illumination

When: November 26 – December 25, 4 – 10pm
Where: Tsukuba Expo Center 2-9 Azuma, Tsukuba)
Website

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Tsukuba Hikari no Mori

When: November 26 – January 9, 4:30pm – midnight
Where: TX Tsukuba Station Pedestrian Deck Area
Website

Ishioka

Flower Park Winter Illumination

When: December 1 – 30, January 1 – 31, 5 – 9pm
Where: Ibaraki Flower Park (200 Shimoaoyagi, Ishioka)
Website

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Chikusei

Hoshi no Fantasy in Shimodate

When: December 10 – January 31
Where: JR Shimodate Station area

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Bando

Bando Illumination Fantasy

When: November 23 – January 28, 5 – 9:30pm
Where: Iwai Shopping District, Bando Kanko Koryu Center, Sashima Shopping District

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Ami

Ami Premium Outlet Mall Winter Illumination

When: November 3 – February 15, sunset – 9pm
Where: Ami Premium Outlet Mall
Website

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Ushiku

Brilliantville Ushiku

When: December 3 – February 19th, 5pm – 1am
Where: JR Ushiku Station West and East Exits
Website

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Moriya

Moriya Christmas Fantasy

When: November 23rd – December 24th, 5 – 10pm
Where: Moriya Station West Exit Square
Website

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Ryugasaki

Ryugasaki Illumination Dream Tree

When: November 3rd – February 28th, 5pm – 1am
Where: JR Sanuki Station East and West Exit, Ryugasaki Station

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Kashima

Kashima Hikari no Art Gallery 2016

When: December 2 – January 9
Where: Kashima Jingu Station Area
Website

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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)

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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)

Kasumigaura

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

Tsuchiura

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

Grapes

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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 Hitachi 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 Hitachi Nakazato Branch, 0294-59-0101)
Orikasa Budō Kankō Nōen (contact JA Hitachi Hidaka Branch 0294-43-0321)

Naka

August
Kamigane Budō En (029-298-3963)

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

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

Hitachi

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

Shirosato

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

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

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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

Early October – 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

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

Hokota

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

Mandarins

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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 Mikan

Chestnuts

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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 (0291-37-4147)

Dried Sweet Potatoes

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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)

Hokota

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

Tokai

Hoshi-imo Kōbō (029-283-0278)

65th Annual Itako Iris Festival

When: May 28 – June 26
Where: Ayame-en (Iris Park) and various other locations around Itako
Official Website (Japanese)

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This festival’s history goes back to 1952, when it was conducted by iris-lovers placing the cut flowers in beer bottles as decorations. From late May till the end of June, you can enjoy the beauty of around one million purple, yellow, and white iris plants of 500 different varieties blooming around Itako.

During the festival there will be a number of events, including ayame-odori (iris dancing) and yome-iri fune (bridal boats).

Yome-iri Fune

Up until the land reclamation operations conducted as part of local development in the first half of 1955, the Itako area was built upon a system of canals. For that reason, when a new bride and/or her goods were to be transported to her new home (the husband’s family home) it was done using a Sappa boat.

The yome-iri fune during the Ayame Festival will be operating along the Maekawa River within Ayame-en every Wednesday (11am), Saturday (11am, 2pm and 7:30pm), and Sunday (11am and 2pm) throughout the festival. After arriving at the ‘Itako Bride’ memorial, the bride will walk along the pathway to the boat with her matchmaker and the boatman, then the boat will set off. Often the groom will be waiting at the dock of the destination. On the 15th and 22nd of June at 7:30pm you can see the special Milky Way Yome-iri Fune.

Lights

Every day of the festival from 6:30 – 10pm, the irises in Ayame-en will be lit up, creating an ethereal atmosphere.

Boat Tours

Boat tours operate from 9am – 4:30pm every day during the festival. On Saturdays they also operate from 6 – 7pm. Tickets for adults are 1000 yen and tickets for elementary school children are 500 yen. Children younger than elementary age ride free.

Access to Ayame-e

By Train: 3 minutes’ walk from Itako Station
By Car: 10 minutes from the Itako IC on the Higashi Kanto Expressway

Mito Beer Festival and Mito Meat Festival

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

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

7th Annual Naka Hinamatsuri

When: 9am – 4:30pm, January 31st – March 8th
Where: Various locations around Naka

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Hinamatsuri, also known as the Doll Festival or Girls’ Day, is held on March 3rd every year. Many places display dolls for around a month before the day of the festival. Head to Naka to see beautiful doll displays all around the city.

Display Locations

Naka Magariya
Address: Naka-shi Sugaya 4520-1
PH: 029-295-1315

Naka Rekishi Minzoku Shiryoukan
Hina Doll Exhibit – features dolls from as far back as the Edo Period
Address: Naka-shi Tozaki 428-2
PH: 029-297-0080

Naka City Hall
Address: Naka-shi Fukuda 1819-5
PH: 029-298-1111

Naka Chuuou Kouminkan
Address: Naka-shi Fukuda 1819
PH: 029-298-5680

Sougou Centre Raporu
Address: Naka-shi Kotoku 371
PH: 029-296-1651
Naka Municipal Library (closed on the last Thursday of every month)
Address: Naka-shi Sugaya 2995-1
PH: 029-352-1177

Fureai Centre Yokobori
Address: Naka-shi Yokobori 1526-1
PH: 029-296-2111

Shizu Hills Country Club (closed when it snows)
Address: Hitachiomiya-shi Oba 5766

*The Rekishi Minzoku Shiryoukan, Chuuou Kouminkan, Sougou Centre Raporu, and the Municipal Library are closed on Mondays. If Monday is a public holiday, they are closed the following day

Special Events

Tsurushi-bina Festival*
When: 10am – 3pm, March 1st
Where: Naka Magariya and Ichinoseki no Tameike Shinsui Koen
Tsurushi-bina are small stuffed dolls. This festival will feature doll displays, a taiko performance, stalls, a performance of the traditional Kadobe Hyottoko Dance, and much more.

*Cancelled in poor weather

Naka Tsurushi-bina Committee Original Goods Sale
When: Every Wednesday-Sunday and public holidays during the Naka Hinamatsuri
Where: Naka Magariya
Buy small hand-sewn goods, Tsurushi decorations, fabric sets, cookies, madeleines, and more

Inashiki Tulip Festival

When: April 13, 10am onward
Where: Wada Park, Inashiki City

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Admire the beauty of around 200,000 colourful tulips of 30 different varieties at the Inashiki Tulip Festival. There will be a number of stage events throughout the day including an Ibaliger stage show, taiko performance, traditional dances, and performances by local celebrities Kitayama Takeshi and Moriyama Aiko. There will also be a petting zoo for the young and young at heart with goats, bunnies, guinea pigs, and more. Don’t miss out!