History & Culture
Rokkakudo (Kitaibaraki City)
Built in 1905, Rokkakudo is a unique hexagonal structure located on the dramatic Izura coastline in northern Ibaraki. It was designed by the famous modern artist and teacher, Tenshin Okakura. The contrast between the deep red of Rokkakudo and the white-crested waves of the Pacific Ocean make for a stunning view. Tenshin’s former residence is also located nearby.For more information
Nishiyama-Goten Heritage (Tokugawa Museum Annex)
Mitsukuni Tokugawa, the second lord of the Mito Domain, spent his retirement here. He supervised the compilation of 'The Great History of Japan' during his time at Nishiyama. His study looked out over the villa's beautiful Japanese gardens - the pond in the gardens is designed in the shape of the Chinese character for 'heart'.For more information
Located in the center of Mito, Kairakuen Garden is one of the three most famous gardens in Japan. The garden features a flat hill from which you can get a panoramic view of Lake Senba and its surroundings, and local people often come here to relax. The garden is landscaped according to the principles of yin and yang, and you can enjoy walking through the bamboo forest, as well as the beautiful gardens of seasonal flowers.For more information
Kodokan Mito Domain School (Mito City)
Kodokan was established in 1841 as a school for Mito Clan warriors. Alongside martial arts, pupils could study subjects like medicine, literature and astronomy, making Kodokan comparable to a university today. Kodokan was the largest school of its kind in Japan and is now designated as a Japan Heritage site. During February and March, nearly 800 plum trees of 60 different varieties bloom in the grounds of the Kodokan.For more information
Kasama Inari Shrine (Kasama City)
Kasama Inari Shrine is one of Japan's most important Inari Shrines, ranked alongside Kyoto's famous Fushimi Inari, and attracts around 3.5 million pilgrims and visitors every year. The shrine is particularly beautiful in late Spring when the wisteria flowers are in bloom, and in Autumn during the chrysanthemum festival.
The streets leading up to the shrine are filled with restaurants, fashionable cafes and pottery galleries as well as plenty of chances to sample local street food like Kasama Inari Sushi and roasted chestnuts,
Kashima Jingu Grand Shrine (Kashima City)
Kashima Jingu Grand Shrine is the oldest and biggest Shinto Shrine in the Kanto region. Pilgrims including the imperial family have visited this shrine since ancient times.
After entering through the imposing red shrine gate, explore the shrine buildings, then take a walk through the leafy grounds to see the deer enclosure and crystal blue waters of Mitarashi Pond.
More than 80 annual festivals and events take place at the shrine including the famous Ofune Matsuri or 'Ship Festival', which is held just once every 12 years.
Makabe Hina Doll Festival (Sakuragawa City)
People traditionally crafted elaborate displays of 'hina' dolls to celebrate Girl's Day in early March. In the historic town of Makabe, local people decided to open their displays to the public to encourage people to visit the town even during the cold Winter months. Many of the dolls have been passed down through families since the Edo Period, offering a unique glimpse into life in Japan more than a century ago. Other displays feature contemporary designs or unique stone dolls.
This festival is a great time to visit the picturesque, historic town of Makabe and experience of the passion of the local people keeping this tradition alive.
Anime Pop Culture, Girls and Punzer
Girls and Punzer, a popular Japanese anime, depicts the everyday life of high school girls aiming at winning a nationwide tank competition. The story is set in the town of Oarai, and you can see the actual shopping arcade, local buses, and other facilities that appear in the anime story. For fans of the anime, the town of Oarai is the sanctuary of Girls and Punzer.