Mito Plum Blossom Festival
The Mito Plum Blossom Festival began in 1896 when the railway between Mito and Ueno opened, and trains for viewing plum blossoms were implemented. The festival is held annually from mid-February to late March, which coincides with the blooming season of plum blossoms. The festival takes place at Kairakuen, which is designated as a Japan Heritage site and considered one of Japan's three famous gardens. The festival is also held at the Kodokan, previously the domain school of the Mito Domain. At Kairakuen, there are approximately 100 varieties and 3,000 plum trees, while at Kodokan, there are around 60 varieties and 800 plum trees in full bloom. During the festival, there will be various events such as evening illuminations, fireworks, and the National Plum Liqueur Festival. At the festival, you can try over 150 varieties of plum liqueur from all parts of the country. It is a beloved annual festival that brings the spirit of spring to Mito, attracting both locals and visitors.
Nishinouchi Paper Kami no Sato
Kami no Sato has operated as a specialized handcrafted Nishinouchi paper store since 1970. During the Edo period (1603-1868), this paper was highly valued even in Edo (the former name for Tokyo) as an exclusive product of the Mito Domain, which ruled the central and northern parts of the present Ibaraki Prefecture. With a history spanning 350 years, Nishinouchi paper is designated as Ibaraki Prefectural and National Intangible Cultural Property. Its distinctive feature is being made from Nasu kozo (mulberry tree), which grows in Hitachiomiya City and Daigo Town. The significant temperature difference between day and night makes the fiber of this plant lightweight, durable, and waterproof- it is an excellent raw material for washi paper. Nishinouchi paper made from thin and short Nasu kozo fibers is resistant to water damage and folding.
At the souvenir shop of Nishinouchi Paper Kami no Sato, various handmade washi papers, interior decorations, miscellaneous goods, and accesso…
Traditional Crafts/Sake Breweries
Howaen Garden is a spacious garden adjacent to Keiganji Temple (established in 1682). It is a popular place to enjoy blooming hydrangeas in Mito.
The garden's history is said to have begun around the late 17th century when Mitsukuni Tokugawa (1628 - 1701), the second lord of the Mito Domain, granted it the name Howaen.
During the early Showa period (1926 - 1989), the garden was expanded with a pond and artificial hills added to its landscaping by local volunteers and became a pure Japanese-style garden.
Hydrangeas were planted in Howaen Garden after the authority of the garden was transferred from the temple to Mito City in 1950.
When June arrives, the garden's 6,000 hydrangeas in 100 varieties reach their peak, making it the best time to view the flowers. The Mito Hydrangea Festival takes place during this season.
Mito Castle Ruins
Mito Castle was Japan's largest earthen flatland castle, constructed between the late 12th to early 13th centuries.
It became the Mito Tokugawa family's castle after several changes in lords when Yorifusa Tokugawa was enfeoffed to Mito in 1609.
Mito Castle lost its role as a castle following the collapse of the Edo shogunate in 1868. Many of its buildings were lost due to demolition, war damages, and other causes.
Currently, the castle's earthen walls, moat, clan school Kodokan, and Yakui Gate are all that remain. Ote Gate and Ninomaru Sumiyagura Tower were also reconstructed based on historical documents.
The winery was established in 1903, and the buildings were designed in a mixture of European and Japanese architectural styles. Ushiku Chateau is a pioneer of Japanese wineries. It is listed as a cultural heritage by the Japanese government.
Visitors can dine at the restaurant, renovated from a brick-clad wine cellar built over 100 years ago. They can also browse the souvenir shop, which handles various wines and confections. The memorial hall displays historical material, such as wooden wine barrels, bottles, posters, and photographs, from the winery's early days. A garden furnished with a fountain, flower garden, and trees is also located on the grounds. Visitors can stroll around or enjoy a barbecue.
Traditional Crafts/Sake Breweries
Rental Cycle Tamariba
A place created to have people of various ages gather and interact with one another while revitalizing the town. It is located near JR Katsuta Station and offers bicycle rentals to those interested in touring around Hitachi Seaside Park. Rental fees are 1,000 yen per bicycle for a day. You can also store your belongings here.
Ajigaura Onsen Nozomi
The hot springs at Ajigaura Onsen Nozomi use a private source unearthed from 1,504 meters underground. The spring contains ancient seawater that has aged and become highly concentrated over several thousands of years, a rare and precious commodity among other springs in Japan. Japan has an abundance of sodium chloride springs, but many are low in concentration. In this hot spring the concentration of minerals are over 26 times the approved standard for hot springs! Onsen Nozomi is great for external injuries, skin diseases, and eczema due to having a sterilizing effect on the body. The water also warms up the body, making it popular with customers for relieving neuralgia and joint pain. However, please remember to stay hydrated!
There are various types of baths, including indoor baths and stone baths, a Hinoki cypress bath, a scented bath, and a cave-enclosed bath in the open-air bath space. You can enjoy the ocean view thanks to the hot spring being right by Ajigaura …
Kurosawa Soy Sauce
Kurosawa Soy Sauce has been making soy sauce while preserving traditional methods since its founding in 1905. The brewery creates various products utilizing wooden barrels passed down for over 100 years, the natural yeast and lactic acid bacteria that live in the brewery, and capitalizing on years of experience. The popular Hishiogura (double-brewed soy sauce) is ideal for sashimi (sliced raw fish) or dipping sauce. Awazuke, an ingredient in pickled vegetables, can easily turn any vegetable into pickles. Their flavorful ponzu (Japanese seasoning made with citrus juice), mentsuyu (traditional soup ingredient used in noodle dishes), and yakiniku tare (Japanese barbeque sauce) are also popular products! Brewery tours are also possible through advanced reservations.
The shop and KURA CAFE utilize the warehouse space on the brewery grounds with desserts served at the cafe, enhancing the flavors in malted rice and soy sauce. The amazake shoyu soft serve, a soy sauce soft ser…
Traditional Crafts/Sake Breweries
Sakatsura Isosaki Shrine
Sakatsura Isosaki Shrine, established in 856, is known for bringing fortune in recovery from illness, health, and longevity. Also, many lottery winners have visited the shrine, making it equally famous in recent years for increasing wealth. Oarai Isosaki Shrine, located in the neighboring town of Oarai and famous for its torii gate on the coastal rocks, is its sister shrine. Oarai Isosaki Shrine is dedicated to Okuninushi, the deity who created the nation of Japan. On the other hand, Sakatsura Isosaki Shrine is dedicated to a deity named Sukunabikona, who is said to have collaborated with Okuninushi.
The shrine's charms lie in its beautiful, dense thicket of Japanese bay trees that are over 300 years old and camellias growing on both sides of the shrine road. This tree tunnel, a designated natural monument of Ibaraki Prefecture, ia a phoogeic spot, feeling like a space luring you into a magic world. There is a torii gate beside the shrine road where you can view the se…
Hoshiimo Shrine / Horide Shrine
Horide Shrine and Hoshiimo Shrine are on a hill with a beautiful view of Ajigaura Beach. The name Horide comes from "horidasu," or the Japanese verb for "to dig out." In 1663, locals unearthed armor, spears, and katana swords in the surrounding area and built a small shrine to enshrine these items. Several years later, an ancient mirror was dedicated to the shrine by Tokugawa Mitsukuni, a historical figure who governed over the local Mito Domain (a domain encompassing modern-day central and northern Ibaraki). It soon became the shrine's object of worship. The shrine is called "Horide" because both the first items found here and the mirror were dug up. Hachiman, the deity of academics and warding against evil spirits, is worshipped here.
In 2019, Hoshiimo Shrine was newly built on the grounds of Horide Shrine. Ibaraki Prefecture ranks the highest in production volume for hoshi-imo (dried sweet potatoes) in Japan. Moreover, Hitachinaka, where the shrine is located, is th…
Lapoppo Namegata Farmers Village（らぽっぽ なめがたファーマーズヴィレッジ）
Namegata Farmers Village is a park and shop in a renovated school building just an 80-minute drive from Tokyo. The overarching concept at the park is "farm to table." Therefore, visitors can eat, experience, play, and learn about farming at the park's sweet baked potato factory. In addition to shops and restaurants, hands-on farming workshops are available.
By public transport: From JR Itako Station, take a Rokko Kitaura Line bus bound for Aso Onsen. After around 35 minutes, get off at the Lake Eco/Shirahama Shonen Shizen no Ie/Namegata Farmers Village bus stop. Namegata Farmers Village is a minute walk from the bus stop.
Ryujin Suspension Bridge
Ryujin Suspension Bridge stands 100 meters above the Ryujin Dam Reservoir. Spanning 375 meters, the bridge is inspired by the legend of a dragon said to reside in the Ryujin River. It offers panoramic views of the area’s mountainous landscape, including wild cherry blossoms during the spring and fiery foliage in autumn.
The bridge is also home to Japan’s highest bungee jump! This bungee jump is the ultimate way to take in the surrounding mountains if you're up to the challenge.
If throwing yourself off bridges isn’t your thing, there’s plenty more to explore in the surrounding area as well, including hiking trails, hot springs, and restaurants serving the region’s specialty: soba noodles!