44th Annual Mt. Tsukuba Plum Festival

When: February 25th – March 20th, 2017
Where: Tsukuba and the Mt. Tsukuba Plum Forest    

Video of 2013 Festival

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Tsukuba’s plum tree forest sits at around 250m above sea level, and from among the trees you can gaze out upon Tsukuba City, and even spot Mt. Fuji and Tokyo Sky Tree in the distance. The Mt. Tsukuba Plum Festival is unique in offering the chance to enjoy such a splendid view while walking amongst the red, pink, and white blossoms.

On weekends and public holidays you can revel in the beauty of the plum blossoms while keeping toasty sitting by an open hearth from 10am to 3pm at the Plum Forest Plum Viewing Square (umebayashi kanbai hiroba). Other activities held every day during the festival include a treasure hunt for a golden toad around Mt. Tsukuba and workshops for making pens from plum tree branches (100 yen to participate) and toasted sandwiches (400 yen to participate) at Forest Adventure Tsukuba.

Access: 40 minutes via the Mt. Tsukuba Shuttle Bus from Tsukuba Center Mt. Tsukuba Shuttle Bus Stop (next to bus stop no.1) outside the A3 and A4 TX Tsukuba Station exits (bus schedule). Get off at Tsukuba-san Jinja Iriguchi (筑波山神社入り口)

Limited Time Plum-themed Dishes

Throughout the festival, stores around Tsukuba will sell a variety of plum-themed dishes for you to try. Get in quick, as some places only offer a limited number of the dish per day!

Meals

Kandaya (Tsukuba-shi Tsukuba 722)
Tsukuba Akane Chicken and Plum Mayonnaise Rice Bowl (1000 yen)

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Ishihama (Tsukuba-shi Tsukuba 721)
Plum Rice and Kenchin Soup (root vegetable soup) (850 yen)

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Murasaki (Tsukuba-shi Tsukuba 753)
Plum Tororo (shaved yam) Soba/Udon (980 yen)

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Mt. Tsukuba Drive In (Tsukuba-shi Tsukuba 1233-8)
Plum Udon/Soba (780 yen)

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Hitachino (Tsukuba-shi Usui 2103-5 Kazekaeshi Ridge)
Marinated Hitachi-wagyu Beef on Rice (with plum stock) (2160 yen)

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Tsutsujigaoka Rest House (Tsutsujigaoka Ropeway Station)
Natto & Pork Cutlet Meal (1050 yen)

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Mt. Tsukuba Keisei Hotel (Tsutsujigaoka Ropeway Station)
Fragrant Plum Shokado Bento (2160 yen)
An extravagant bento box including stewed yellowtail with radish, bamboo, and plum-shaped carrot, Tsukuba Biton pork-wrapped asparagus with plum sauce, fried and battered anglerfish with plum, bamboo kamameshi (rice cooked with other ingredients in a pot) and local strawberries from the Yasato area.

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Tsukuzen (Tsukuba-shi Numata 1441-1)
Plum Gozen (1620 yen)
A plum-filled meal including plum inari sushi made from rice from Yumeda Farm located at the foot of Mt. Tsukuba, plum konnyaku, pickled plum tempura, side dishes made from local vegetables, and Hitachi Aki Soba.

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Oshokujidokoro Aoki (Tsukuba-shi Tsukuba 829-1)
Plum and Perilla Sushi with Wild Vegetable Soba (1500 yen)

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Tsukuba Ham (Tsukuba-shi Hiratsuka 383)
Pork Roast Steak and Plum Beurre Composé (2484 yen)

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Chicken Paitan Ramen Obiya (Tsukuba-shi Kaname 137-3)
Spicy Red Yuzu and Shaved Plum Ramen (850 yen)

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Sweets

Kamiya Seika (Umaimon Dokoro in the Mt. Tsukuba Plum Forest)
Plum Yōkan (100 yen)

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Daiichiya (Umaimon Dokoro in the Mt. Tsukuba Plum Forest)
Plum Yōkan with a Stewed Plum (450 yen)

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Sugimotoya (Umaimon Dokoro in the Mt. Tsukuba Plum Forest)
Mt. Tsukuba-yaki Pastry with Plum-flavoured Filling (200 yen)

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Tsukuba Yakon (Mt. Tsukuba Plum Forest Rest Area and Mt. Tsukuba Omotenashi Kan)
Plum Chiffon Cake made with rice flour (190 yen)

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Ishihama (Tsukuba-shi Tsukuba 721)
Plum Anmitsu (650 yen)

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Tsukuba Ham Shizen Aji Kōbō (Tsukuba-shi Hiratsuka 383)
Plum Tart Set (702 yen)

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Cable Car Miyawaki Store (Next to Mt. Tsukuba Shrine)/Tsutsujigaoka Rest House (at the ropeway station)
Red Plum Soft Serve Ice Cream (320 yen)

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Mt. Tsukuba Drive In (Tsukuba-shi Tsukuba 1233-8)
Plum Soft Serve Ice Cream (350 yen)

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120th Annual Mito Plum Festival

When: February 20th – March 31st
Where: Kairakuen and the Kodokan, Mito

Access via Public Transport
Kairakuen: Take a bus heading to Kairakuen from Bus Stop 4 or 6 on the north side of Mito Station (see map here)
Kodokan: 8 minutes’ walk north of Mito Station (see map here)

Admission
Kairakuen: Free
Kobuntei: Adults 200 yen, junior high school and younger 100 yen
Kodokan: Adults 200 yen, junior high school and younger 100 yen, over 70 free

Opening Hours
Kairakuen: 6am – 7pm (7am to 6pm until February 19th. Open until 9pm for the illuminations from March 4th – 21st
Kobuntei: 9am – 5pm (Open until 6pm on weekdays, Sundays, and public holidays and 8pm on Saturdays during the illuminations from March 4th – 21st)
Kodokan: 9am – 5pm (9am – 4:30pm until February 19th)

The Plum Blossoms of Kairakuen

There are approximately 100 varieties of plum tree growing in Kairakuen, and they all bloom at different times. Early blooming varieties (hayazaki) begin blooming from around mid-January to mid-February, mid-season blooming varieties (nakazaki) bloom from early February to mid-March, and late blooming varieties (osozaki) bloom from early March to early April. These times can vary every year though, depending on the climate.

Of the 3000 plum trees in Kairakuen, only about half of them can be said to be of a particular variety (the other half being mixes of a number of varieties resulting in an unnamed variety). The most common among those with clear names is the Shirokaga variety, of which there are nearly 450 trees. The next most common is the Tōjibai, with 150 trees, followed by Yaekankō, with 130 trees.

Although the trees bloom roughly as described above, they are greatly affected by weather and precipitation, so it is not an exact timeline. This is why you should visit Kairakuen several times to stroll around the park and appreciate the many forms of the plum blossoms.

Early Blooming Varieties (Mid-January to Mid-February)

The Yaekankō, Shironaniwa, Yaetōji, and Rekkōbai varieties are representative of the early blooming plum tree varieties, and can be found scattered around Kairakuen. In particular, the Yaekankō in the East-West Plum Forest near the East Gate and the Shironaniwa by the Onari Gate are well known and among the first to bloom. Searching for the few flowers that have blossomed among the majority that are still in their bud forms is one of the most enjoyable things to do during the early blooming season.

Mid-season Blooming Varieties (Late February to Mid-March)

The single-petaled Tsukikage, with its distinct silhouette and the soft and fluffy Tora-no-o are exemplary of the mid-season blooming varieties. They can be found scattered around the park in the Western Plum Forest and other locations, and are known for their fragrance and colour. It is when the mid-season varieties are in bloom that you can fully feel the coming of spring and enjoy the grand sight of many plum trees in full bloom.

Late Blooming Varieties (Early March to Early April)

The Shirokaga, Kasugano, and Kōnanshomu varieties are representative of late blooming plum trees. In particular Shirokaga trees can be seen all around the park. They bloom slowly and decorate the end of the plum blossom season. The end of the season is when you should savour the last of the blossoms before they are gone.

Events

Major Events

4th Annual National Umeshu Festival in Mito

When: March 4th – 6th, 10am – 4pm (until 3pm on March 6th)
Where: Tokiwa Shrine Grounds

At the National Umeshu Festival you will have the opportunity to sample and compare umeshu from Hokkaido all the way down to Okinawa. You can also enjoy the coupling of umeshu with a variety of dishes and umeshu cocktails.

Night Plum Festival

When:
Kodokan – March 5th, 6 – 9pm
Kairakuen – March 12, 6 – 9pm

The Night Plum Festival will feature candle displays, showing off the beauty of the plum trees in a different light. The festival finale will feature Mito fireworks.

Event Schedule

Presenting of Plum Festival Opening Memorial Gifts
When: February 20th, 9am onwards
Where: Kairakuen East Gate

Mito-chan Birthday Party
When: February 20th – 21st, 10am – 3pm
Where: Kairakuen View Square

New Plum Blossom Viewing Festival
When: February 26th, 6 – 8pm
Where: Sannomaru Hotel

Plum Blossom Viewing and Shogi Festival
When: February 27th, 10am – 3pm
Where: Kairakuen View Square

World Othello Competition Pre-event: Othello in Kairakuen
When: February 27th 10am – 3pm
Where: Kairakuen View Square

Outdoor Tea Ceremony (Sekishū-ryu Style)
When: February 28th, 10am – 3pm
Where: Kairakuen View Square

Taya Staff Technique Demonstration
When: February 28th, 10:30 – 11:30am
Where: The Kodokan Taishijō

Mito Hina-nagashi (Hitachi Washi Doll Association)
When: February 28th, 11am – 12pm
Where: Kairakuen Togyokusen Spring

Outdoor Tea Ceremony by High School Students (Tokiwa University High School)
When: March 4th, 10am – 3pm
Where: Kairakuen View Square

Martial Arts Demonstration
When: March 5th, 10 – 11:30am
Where: The Kodokan Taishijō

Goken Kōbai Hina-nagashi (Five Town Community)
When: March 5th, 11am – 12pm
Where: Kairakuen Togyokusen Spring

69th Annual Photography Session and Photo Contest
When: March 6th, 10am – 3pm
Where: Kairakuen Plum Forest, View Square, and other locations

Outdoor Tea Ceremony (Edosenke)
When: March 6th, 10am – 3pm
Where: Kairaikuen View Square

Poetry Recital
When: March 6th, 10:30 – 11:30am
Where: Kodokan Taishijō

Biwa Performance
When: March 6th, 11:30am – 12pm
Where: Kodokan Seicho

Kodokan Open Lecture
When: March 12th, 1:30 – 3pm
Where: Kodokan Seicho

Gathering of Past Plum Maidens and Plum Ambassadors
When: March 13th, 10am – 12pm
Where: Kairakuen View Square and other locations

Outdoor Tea Ceremony (Urasenke)
When: March 13th, 10am – 3pm
Where: Kairakuen View Square

Outdoor Tea Ceremony by High School Students (Taisei Girls’ High School)
When: March 19th, 10am – 3pm
Where: Kairakuen View Square

Komon’s Kitchen
When: March 19th, 10am – 4pm
Where: By the Mito Komon Statue near Lake Senba

Outdoor Tea Ceremony (Omotesenke)
When: March 20th, 10am – 3pm
Where: Kairakuen View Square

70th Annual Plum Viewing Haiku Contest
When: March 20th, 10am – 3pm
Where: Ibaraki Prefectural Youth Hall

Outdoor Tea Ceremony by High School Students (Suijo High School)
When: March 26th, 10am – 3pm
Where: Kairakuen View Square

8 Views of Mito Gourmet Ride
When: March 26th
Details

Plum Viewing Entertainment Festival
When: March 27th, 10am – 3pm
Where: Kairakuen View Square

42nd Annual Mt. Tsukuba Plum Festival

When: February 21st – March 29th
Where: Tsukuba and the Mt. Tsukuba Plum Forest
Video

Tsukuba’s plum tree forest sits at around 250m above sea level, and from among the trees you can gaze out upon Tsukuba City, and even spot Mt. Fuji and Tokyo Sky Tree in the distance. The Mt. Tsukuba Plum Festival is unique in offering the chance to enjoy such a splendid view while walking amongst the red, pink, and white blossoms.

Every day during the festival there will be free plum tea and performances by gama no aburauri (a spruiker from the Edo period who would give lively performances to sell bulrush oil, which was used to treat wounds. It is now a famous local product in the Tsukuba area, particularly on Mt. Tsukuba). On weekends there will also be folk entertainment.

Throughout the festival stores around Tsukuba will sell a variety of plum-themed dishes for you to try. There will be a free bus between the various inns and hotels around Mt. Tsukuba that have onsen facilities on weekends and public holidays.