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Ibaraki

Ibaraki
Flowers, flowers everywhere — this coastal prefecture in Kanto is famous for its beautifully blossoming parks, as well as being the home of Japan’s most divisive dish: natto.
Ibaraki Tourist Attractions

Located on the Pacific coast of Japan, not too far northeast of Tokyo, Ibaraki Prefecture is a hub of old and new— of modern industry and traditional beauty. The prefecture houses the operations HQ of the Japanese Space Agency JAXA, as well as one of the country’s three most famous waterfalls, and one of the country’s three most revered gardens.

The capital city Mito is the home to the latter of these, where you can enjoy wandering beneath the 3000 plum blossom trees of Kairakuen Garden. These trees — often overlooked in favor of the sakura cherry blossoms — are something like an emblem for the prefecture, and it’s far and away the best place to experience their beauty. In fact, the prefecture has plenty of amazing spots for budding botanists, such as Hitachi City’s huge, flower-covered park (Hitachi Seaside Park).

If it’s religious culture that takes your fancy, then head to the town of Ushiku to take a look at its gigantic bronze Buddha statue, which stands an astounding 120 meters tall! This was the tallest statue in the world until 2008, and still ranks in the top five as of 2018.

Once you’ve finished paying your respects to the Godzilla-sized buddha, walking through the city parks, or hiking through the trails to waterfalls, the prefecture also has plenty of great eating and drinking to dive headfirst into, as well.

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Frequently Asked Questions
What to eat in Ibaraki?
Ibaraki is famous for the divisive fermented soybean product Japanese natto, as the people here produce and consume more than anywhere else. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, surely the glorious Mito Umeshu Festival will: a March weekend of sipping one of Japan’s favorite drinks — sweet plum wine — under the shade of plum blossom trees is sheer bliss.
What are the best things to do in Ibaraki?
Head along to the seaside for a surf or sunbathe alongside the Tokyo day trippers, or head inland to visit the lovely Fukuroda Falls. If you prefer your nature tamed, then the gardens in Mito and Hitachi present a lovely opportunity for strolling and lazing in the afternoon.
When to view plum blossoms in Ibaraki?
Plum blossoms in Ibaraki generally bloom from mid-to-late February until mid-March, so a little earlier than the sakura. If you want to guarantee seeing them in full bloom, then head along to Kairakuen Garden around the first week in March.
What is Ibaraki famous for?
Plum blossoms are the thing most associated with the prefecture, but did you know it’s also the birthplace of the self-defense martial art aikido? In fact, anyone registered with their home country’s aikido federation can train at the headquarters dojo — located next to Aiki Shrine, where the style’s founder is enshrined.
What to buy in Ibaraki?
The prefecture can get quite creative with its natto dishes, so why not grab a pack of snacks? Okay, not everyone likes fermented soybeans, so maybe some dishware made in the local Kasama ware pottery style will make for a better souvenir.
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