Hitachi Oktoberfest 2017

When: April 26 – May 7 (Weekdays 3 – 9pm, Weekends & Public Holidays 12 – 9pm, Last Order 8:30pm)
Where: Shin Toshi Hiroba, Hitachi Civic Center (1-21-1 Saiwaicho, Hitachi)
Access: 3 minutes’ walk from Hitachi Station Chuo Exit
Admission: Free

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Oktoberfest is a German harvest festival that has been held in Munich since 1810. In the two weeks of the festival approximately 6.5 million people attend and 6 million cups of beer are consumed, leading the festival to be known as the world’s largest food festival. Around 10 years ago celebrations of the festival began to pop up around Japan, and it has been gaining popularity ever since.

At Hitachi Oktoberfest 2017 you can enjoy delicious local foods and German beer in the oceanside city of Hitachi as local musicians and performers provide entertainment. In order to reduce waste and broken glasses, you will be charged a 1000 yen glass fee with your first glass of beer, which will be returned to you when you return your glass. You can continue to use the same glass for refills.

There will be no parking available, so you are encouraged to come to the event by public transport.

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.

A Guide to Ibaraki’s Beaches 2014

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

Isohara Futatsushima Beach (Kita-Ibaraki)

Enjoy the sight of Isohara’s local symbol, the ‘Twin Islands’ (Futatsushima) from the white sands of Isohara Beach. This beach is known for its white sands and aquamarine water.

Period: July 26th to August 17th

Access: Car – 10min from the Kita-Ibaraki IC on the Joban Expressway

Train – 5min taxi ride or 15 min walk from Isohara Station on the JR Joban Line

Parking: Free (50 spots)

Inquiries: Kita-Ibaraki Commerce and Tourism Division   0293-43-1111

Takahagi Beach (Takahagi)

Only a 10 minute walk from Takahagi Station, this beach is perfectly located. The contrast between the clear, wide ocean and the white sandy beach is breathtaking.

Period: July 19th to August 17th

Access: Car – 10 min from the Takahagi IC on the Joban Expressway

Train – 10 min walk from Takahagi Station on the JR Joban Line

Parking: Paid (200 spaces, 1000 yen for regular, 2000 yen for mid-size, 3000 yen for larger vehicles)

Inquiries: Takahagi Tourism Association  0293-23-7316

Ishihama Beach (Hitachi)

This is a beautiful beach dotted with pine trees, selected as both one of the 100 best beaches in Japan and one of the 100 most beautiful white sand and pine tree beaches in Japan.

Period: July 19th to August 17th

Access: Car – 8 min from the Hitachi Kita IC on the Joban Expressway

Train – 10 min by bus from Juo Station on the JR Joban Line

Parking: Paid (370 spaces at 1000 yen each, 2000 yen for large buses)

Inquiries: Hitachi Tourism and Local Products Association  0294-51-3972

Kawajiri Beach (Hitachi)

This beach is right next to Kawajiri Port and its best features are the calm waves and wide, shallow sands. This is a place where even families with small children can enjoy swimming and playing on the shore.

Period: July 19th to August 17th

Access: Car – 5 min from the Hitachi Kita IC on the Joban Expressway

Train – 5 min by taxi from Juo Station on the JR Joban Line

Parking: Paid (40 places at 1000 yen each)

Inquiries: Hitachi Tourism and Local Products Association  0294-51-3972

Ouse Beach (Hitachi)

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

Period: July 19th to August 17th

Access: Car – 15 min from the Hitachi Chuo IC on the Joban Expressway

Train – 10 min walk from the Beach Exit of Hitachi Station on the JR Joban Line

Parking: Paid (180 spaces at 1000 yen each)

Inquiries: Hitachi Tourism and Local Products Association  0294-51-3972

Kawarago Beach (Hitachi)

This popular beach has been chosen as one of the 100 best beaches in Japan. This beach’s attractions include the wide, shallow shore, the clear, clean water, and large stretches of sand.

Period: July 19th to August 17th

Access: Car – 25 min from the Hitachi Minami Ota IC on the Joban Expressway

Train – 15 min by taxi from Hitachi-Taga Station on the JR Joban Line

Parking: Paid (460 spaces at 1000 yen each, large buses 2000 yen)

Inquiries: Hitachi Tourism and Local Products Association  0294-51-3972

Mizuki Beach (Hitachi)

This tiny beach is a hidden gem sandwiched between Kawarago Beach and Kujihama Beach. Chosen as one of the 100 best beaches in Japan, it features very calm waves.

Period: July 19th to August 17th

Access: Car – 20 min from the Hitachi Minami Ota IC on the Joban Expressway

Train – 5 min by taxi from Omika Station on the JR Joban Line

Parking: Paid (100 spaces at 1000 yen each)

Inquiries: Hitachi Tourism and Local Products Association  0294-51-3972

Kujihama Beach (Hitachi)

Close to both Kuji Fishing Port and Hitachi Port, this beach features a white lighthouse and a deep azure sea as well as exquisitely beautiful white beaches and green pine trees.

Period: July 19th to August 17th

Access: Car – 20 min from the Hitachi Minami Ota IC on the Joban Expressway

Train – 10 min by taxi from Omika Station on the JR Joban Line

Parking: Paid (350 spaces at 1000 yen each, 2000 yen for large buses)

Inquiries: Hitachi Tourism and Local Products Association  0294-51-3972

Ajigaura Beach (Hitachinaka)

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

Period: July 19th to August 24th

Access: Car – 5 min from the Hitachi Kaihin Park IC on the Kita-Kanto Expressway after the

Tomobe JCT on the Joban Expressway

Train – 5 min walk from Ajigaura Station on the Hitachinaka Kaihin Railway Minato Line, after riding from Katsuta Station on the JR Joban Line

Parking: Tourism Association Parking (200 spaces at 1000 yen each)

Inquiries: Hitachinaka Tourism Association  029-273-0116

Hiraiso Beach (Hitachinaka)

This is a beach with calm waves, surrounded by dykes and breakers, making it perfect for families with children. The ‘Daichan the Whale’ floating slide is extremely popular with children.

Period: July 19th to August 24th

Access: Car – 10 min from the Hitachi Kaihin Park IC on the Kita-Kanto Expressway after the

Tomobe JCT on the Joban Expressway

Train – 10 min walk from Hiraiso Station on the Hitachinaka Kaihin Railway Minato Line, after riding from Katsuta Station on the JR Joban Line

Parking: Paid (100 spaces at 800 yen each, summer only)

Inquiries: Hitachinaka Tourism Association  029-273-0116

Uba-no-futokoro Marine Pool (Hitachinaka)

A pool in the ocean making use of the high tide. A very popular leisure spot for families with children.

Period: July 19th to August 29th

Access: Car – 10 min from the Hitachinaka IC on the Kita-Kanto Expressway after the Tomobe IC on the Joban Expressway

Train – 10 min walk from Tonoyama Station on the Hitachinaka Kaihin Railway Line, after riding from Katsuta Station on the JR Joban Line

Parking: Paid (100 spaces at 800 yen each)

Inquiries: Hitachinaka Tourism Association  029-273-0116

Oarai Beach (Oarai)

A beach featuring beautiful natural scenery backgrounded by forests. The beach itself is composed of natural pools formed between the rocks, and is popular with children because of the crabs and starfish that can be found there.

Period: July 19th to August 24th

Access: Car – 15 min from the Mito-Oarai IC on the Kita-Kanto Expressway after the Tomobe IC on the Joban Expressway

Train – 15 min by bus from Oarai Station on the Kashima Coastal Railway Oarai Kashima Line

Parking: Paid (1000 spaces; large vehicles 2460 yen, midsize 1020 yen, regular 800 yen, motorcycles 330 yen)

Inquiries: Oarai Tourism Association  029-266-0788

Oarai Sun Beach (Oarai)

This beach is proud to be the biggest in size in the Joban area. This beach is also known for being barrier-free, offering free rentals of wheelchairs that can enter the water and taking other considerations to make it possible for those with disabilities to enjoy the beach.

Period: July 19th to August 24th

Access: Car – 15 min from the Mito-Oarai IC on the Kita-Kanto Expressway after the Tomobe IC on the Joban Expressway

Train – 10 min by bus from Oarai Station on the Kashima Coastal Railway Oarai Kashima Line

Parking: Paid (7500 spaces; large vehicles 3000 yen, midsize 1300 yen, regular 1000 yen, motorcycles 400 yen)

Inquiries: Oarai Tourism Association  029-266-0788

Otake Coast Hokota Beach (Hokota)

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

Period: July 19th to August 17th

Access: Car – 30 min from the Ibaraki Airport Kita IC on the Higashi Kanto Expressway

Train – 10 min by taxi from Shin Hokota Station on the Kashima Coastal Railway Oarai Kashima Line

Parking: Paid (1500 spaces, regular 1000 yen)

Inquiries: Hokota City Hall, Commerce and Tourism Division  0291-33-2111

Shimotsu Beach (Kashima)

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

Period: July 18th to August 17th

Access: Car – 20min from the Itako IC on the Higashi Kanto Expressway

Train – 10min by taxi from Kashima Jingu Station on the Kashima Coastal Railway Oarai Kashima Line

Parking: Paid (300 spaces; regular 800 yen, midsize 1000 yen, large 2000 yen)

Inquiries: Kashima Tourism Association  0299-82-7730

Hirai Beach (Kashima)

A hidden gem located to the south of Shimotsu Beach. Its attractions include a wide beach and calm waves that make it perfect for swimming.

Period: July 18th to August 17th

Access: Car – 20 min from the Itako IC on the Higashi Kanto Expressway

Train – 10 min by taxi from Kashima Jingu Station on the Kashima Coastal Railway Oarai Kashima Line

Parking: Paid (750 spaces; regular 800 yen, midsize 1000 yen, large 2000 yen)

Inquiries: Kashima Tourism Association  0299-82-7730

Hikawahama Beach (Kamisu)

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

Period: July 19th to August 24th

Access: Car – 35 min from the Itako IC on the Higashi Kanto Expressway

Train – 15 min by taxi from Shimousa-tachibana Station on the JR Narita Line

Parking: Paid (400 spaces; regular 200 yen, midsize 1050 yen, large 1580 yen)

Inquiries: Kamisu Commerce and Tourism Division  0299-90-1217

Hasaki Beach (Kamisu)

A shallow beach with clear water that has been chosen as one of the 100 best beaches in Japan. There are many spots for surfing and body-boarding, making it great for marine sports.

Period: July 19th to August 24th

Access: Car – 60 min from the Itako IC on the Higashi Kanto Expressway

Train – 10 min by bus from Choshi Station on the JR Sobu Main Line

Parking: Paid (600 spaces; regular 510 yen, midsize 1020 yen, large 1540 yen)

Inquiries: Kamisu Commerce and Tourism Division  0299-90-1217