Visit Oarai. This is a city close to the ocean where there's a lot of people surfing during the summer time. They have the Aquaworld, one of the biggest aquarium in Japan. In the aquarium, you will be entertained by a lot of dolphin and sea lion tricks. These are trained to do some jumping on hoops and some swimming techniques.
You will also see the different winter animals like the penguins. There are some feeding time of the animals and it is wonderful to see the animals come out from their hiding places. There are many things to do for children at the aquarium, too.
Entrance fee for the Oarai Aquarium is $18.00 and they have discounts for seniors and children.
Kodokan was a famous school for Samurai in Edo era. The last Shogun Yoshinobu Tokugawa was once a student of this school. The school is well preserved and one of Mito's best sites.
200 yen. Expect to spend around an hour walking around here and look at their many artifacts.
Staff is very pleasant and speaks fairly good English. English information is also available.
One of the greatest falls in Japan is in Fukuroda.
It takes 1.5-hour to get there from Mito, but its worth visiting.
Its said that you must visit there every season, spring, summer, autumn and winter because it shows different sceneries on each seasons.
Its so powerful and beautiful fall, I had never seen any falls like that.
Yes, there are giant Chrysanthemums here! In fact, the flowers are so huge they propped them with bamboo sticks! There are many different colors and shapes of the chrysanthemums that I haven't seen before. These are in white, pink. [purple and yellow. There are flowers that are clustered that look like stars and there are flowers that look like huge sunflowers!
Some houses have green houses and they plant the chysanthemums and the flowering plant towers all the way to the roof of the green houses!
I heard about this park that it is so beautiful during the spring time because there are so many cherry blossoms blooming. The park has a canopy of fuschia-colored Cherry blossoms. The residents come here to have a picnic. On the weekends, the local residents hold their barbecue in this park.
However, when I went to visit Ibaraki, Japan, it was Fall season. There is nothing to see except the beautiful river and check out the place. There were birds to check out, though. I saw a lot of tiny birds. I even chased some dragonflies.
It is not a really good thing to come here during the Fall Season. Make sure to come here in the spring time to enjoy the beauty of the park.
Since I don't have a laptop, I went to the library in Ibaraki to use their computers. I also went there to borrow some maps and travel guides to go to Kyoto.
The library is totally different in Ibaraki. They have a place where you can actually squat or sit on the floor. The tables are 12 inches in height. The floors where these are located are covered with tatame (mats) and more elevated than the regular library desks.
Outside the library is a nook where people can go and have snacks.
The usage of the computers is very limited. If I am not mistaken, every 30 minutes, it logs you out, which I find it very annoying. But, anyway, that's Japan. I am used to using the computer in the U.S libraries unlimited and that you can also have free prin-outs!
To use the computer and borrow books to bring it home, one must have a passport and have someone log you in who has a resident alien identification card. But, if you are just there to use it, you don't need these identification cards.
There are many things to do in Ibaraki and one would be to go hiking. The hiking there is very exhilirating because once you are on top of the mountain, you see the whole perspective of the city below.
I went to Tsukubayama and hiked towards the temple perched on top of the mountain. Of course, I have to go there in a car first for about 45 minutes, take a cable car all the way to the top of the mountain and hike there to the highest spot!
The twin peeks of Japan, Tsukuba-san... you take a lift to the top for 500 yen, but the hike is easy and pleasant. It should only take you between 1-2 hours to get to the top, which is nothing. You can then walk down from one peek and back up to the other in about a half hour and hike down the other side of the mountain, thus seeing everything. Keep an eye peeled for the giant frog! There are also cool rock formations as well.
The Giant Buddha statue in Ushiku (next to Tsukuba) is not something to be missed. It is actually the tallest Buddha statue in the world.
Basic admission is 500 yen, but this won't get you into the Buddha. If you want to enter the Buddha, its 800yen. Personally, I don't think the views are that great.
The admission also gets get you into a rabbit park and there is also a garden with some great flowers.
The A-1 thing to do in Ibaraki-ken is visit Kairaku-en. It is considered one of the top 3 gardens in Japan. It is certainly sprawling, with many trees, especially plumb trees. If you can swing it, try visiting in early March, when the plumb trees bloom. Its the peek time to visit, and the train will actually stop in the garden to let you off.
Its free and the hours are 7am to 6pm.
There is a building in the middle of the park which cost 190 yen to enter. certainly worth the admission as the views for the 2nd floor are nice and its a nice place to sit and rest.
If there are giant Chrysathemums in Ibaraki, Japan, there are also tiny Chrysathemums.These beautiful flowers are usually growing on the sides of the roads or they are in flower pots. The plant has little tiny branches filled with flowers and they are coiled in wires in a form of a bee, butterfly, hats, etc. The flowers are very colorful: in yellows, whites, pinks and purples.
The flowering pots are place in front of yards of schools and parks.
Kairaku-en is a Japanese garden located in Mito, Ibaraki-ken.
Along with Kenroku-en and Koraku-en, it is considered one of the big three garden of Japan.
The garden was built by Mito Syogun Tokugawa in 1842.
About 100 kinds and 3000 plums are planted in the garden, and it is crowded with an plum-blossom-viewing visitors in early spring.
If you visit Ibaraki during summer like I did, you will be able to see flowers blooming in the countryside, as well as those which are grown by the locals like the ones in this photograph. Summer is usually hot, rather wet and humid at Ibaraki and surrounding areas
I'm surprised to find a Chinese restaurant at Ibaraki, since this is a rather "off the beaten path" area and most of the foreign food would be expected in cities such as Tokyo. However, I did not go and eat here as I am hurrying to go back to Tokyo and had my lunch anyway. Perhaps one of you may have a chance to try the Chinese food at this restaurant :)
Thanks to the efficient expressways and road system, the journey from Tokyo to Ibaraki is about 2-3 hours and pass by mostly flat farmlands and rivers. More photographs of the journey are at the travelogue section of this VT page.