Since it’s a cold season, people eat hot local dishes and bathe in a hot spring bath to keep them warm. In the severe cold of winter, a huge waterfall will ice over for a limited period. It’s also the season of shopping and visiting shrines and temples for a new year and prays for success in examinations.

Fukuroda Falls

At 120 meters in height and 73 meters wide, Fukuroda Falls is one of the three most splendid waterfalls in Japan. You can view the falls up close from observation decks, and the surrounding foliage will also amaze you, especially in autumn. In the severe cold of winter, the falls ice over, creating a tranquil atmosphere. They are also becoming popular as a lovers’ sanctuary.

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Kamiiso no Torii Gate

Oarai Town

Kamiiso no Torii Gate stands on a reef in the Pacific Ocean. It is the place where, according to mythology, Sukunahikona-no-mikoto is said to have descended. The view created by the torii gate and the white-crested waves surging toward it is a must-see, and the scene is especially amazing at sunrise.

Kasama Inari Shrine

One of Japan’s three most popular Inari shrines, Kasama Inari Shrine features a main hall with beautiful carvings that has been designated as an Important Cultural Property. Wisteria flowers on a 400-year-old tree bloom in early May, and the shrine is also known for its chrysanthemum festival in autumn. Some visitors pray for prosperity in agriculture, commerce, and the manufacturing and fishing industries, while others pray for a safe birth or successful match-making.

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Mt. Tsukuba

Mt. Tsukuba, 877 meters high, is a symbol of Ibaraki, and mountain climbing can be enjoyed there throughout the year. For non-climbers, going to the top by cable car or ropeway is fun. Viewing the stars twinkling in the winter night sky is amazing. Halfway up the mountain stands Tsukubasan Shrine, which has a history of over 3,000 years.

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The Kashima Jingu Grand Shrine

Kashima Jingu Grand Shrine’s vermillion romon (a two-story torii gate) is one of the three greatest Japanese romon gates, and is designated as an Important Cultural Property. Deities of martial arts are enshrined here, and visitors pray for a safe birth, or traffic safety and the like. The kanameishi (a “powerful” stone) and Mitarashi Pond are both well worth seeing.

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Anko (Angler Fish)

Anko (anglerfish) is a collagen-rich deep-sea fish that is often served in a hot pot dish, anko nabe, in the winter. Like natto, anko nabe is especially associated with Ibaraki. Nutritious anko nabe also contains fresh vegetables, such as Chinese cabbage and green onions, making it a healthy dish indeed. Why not try it if you have the chance?