Oarai Isosaki Shrine
This shrine was founded in 856 when two deities are said to have descended upon the coast of Oarai. The two enshrined at Oarai Isosaki Shrine are Daikoku-sama, the god of nation-building and national prosperity, and Sukunahikona-no-Mikoto, the god of medicine.
Oarai Isosaki Shrine is associated with the nearby Kamiiso-no-Torii, a sacred gate where the gods are said to have descended earth. This shrine gate stands dramatically on rocks in the Pacific Ocean and attracts photographers worldwide. On New Year's Day, the sun rises directly between the pillars of the shrine gate.
This shrine is also famous among fans of the anime series "Girls und Panzer," which is set in the town of Oarai and uses real-life locations. Many prayer plaques at the shrine feature illustrations of the characters from the anime drawn by visiting fans.
Oarai Beach is one of two beaches in the town of Oarai. While Sun Beach features pristine sand, Oarai is a pebble beach with rocky outcrops in the sea. In addition to swimming during the summer, Oarai Beach attracts visitors exploring the area's rock pools and looking for marine life like hermit crabs.
The beach is home to the stunning floating shrine gate, Kamiiso-no-Torii. It is also a few minutes from Oarai Isosaki Shrine, seafood restaurants, and beachside ho s. Aquaworld Aquarium is only a short drive or a 20-minute walk from Oarai Beach.
Oarai Museum of Bakumatsu-Meiji History
This museum was established in 1929 by Mitsuaki Tanaka, a samurai during the late Edo Period who became a Cabinet Minister in the Imperial Household Agency.
The museum houses a range of exhibits related to key political figures active in the late Edo Period and early Meiji Period, including personal letters and clothing. The former Emperor and Empress of Japan have even visited the facility.
The museum is located on sprawling grounds filled with pine and cherry trees. Moreover, it is either a short drive or a leisurely walk from the Oarai coast.
Nicknamed the "Gold Coast of Ibaraki," this white sandy beach is located in Hokota City, Japan's top producer of melons. During the official swimming season, lifeguards are on duty to ensure everyone can enjoy the beach safely.
The twin peaks of Mount Tsukuba are symbolic of Ibaraki. In Japanese, the peaks are Nyotai and Nantai, meaning the female peak and male peak, respectively. At 877 meters tall, Nyotai, the female peak, is the higher of the two. Mount Tsukuba is accessible in under two hours from Tokyo, making it ideal for escaping city life and getting in touch with nature. There are over 1000 species of flora and fauna on the mountain alone!
Both peaks are easily accessible by cable car or ropeway. If you're looking to exercise, there are plenty of hiking trails that suit all levels. Many trails have unique rock formations and historical Shinto sites.
While Mount Fuji is the symbol of western Japan, Mount Tsukuba is undeniably the symbol of eastern Japan. No trip to the Kanto region is complete without exploring this mountain!
Mount Tsukuba Stardust Cruise
Mount Tsukuba ranks among Japan’s 100 Famous Mountains and offers unparalleled views of the vast Kanto Plain.
From October to March each year, Mount Tsukuba Ropeway operates special nighttime services during the colder months. Visitors can marvel at the stunning Tokyo skyline at night, including lights glistening from the city center alongside Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree.
Mount Tsukuba Plum Blossom Festival
In early spring, over 1000 plum trees blossom on the slopes of Mount Tsukuba. The plum groves are located at an altitude of around 250 meters, offering panoramic views over the Ibaraki countryside. Visitors can even see as far as Tokyo on clear days.
Cretaceous Rock Formations
These cretaceous rocks stemming from the Mesozoic Era (around 6.5 million years ago) are the first rock formation of their kind to be discovered in Ibaraki. Fossilized ammonites and sharks have even been discovered in the area.
Located in southern Ibaraki Prefecture, Tanaka Brewery utilizes the abundant natural resources of this fertile agricultural area, particularly the underground water reserves from the Tone River. Established in 1655, the brewery produces sake using traditional methods today. Tanaka Brewing is best known for its "Kimibandai" range of sake. Likewise, the daiginjo (top grade sake where 50% of the rice grain is removed in the polishing process) blend is renowned for its distinctive deep, full-bodied flavor.
Traditional Crafts/Sake Breweries
Tsuchiura All Japan Fireworks Competition
This firework display first began in 1925 to commemorate the Kasumigaura Naval Air Force members killed in WWI. The event also shines a light on tourism in the local area. In 1947, it was revamped as a competition where fireworks manufacturers and experts nationwide could show off their skills.
Hitachi Seaside Park
Hitachi Seaside Park is perhaps Ibaraki's most famous tourist destination for its Instagram-friendly fields of flowers. This vast park is best known for the stunning blue nemophila flowers in spring (mid-April onwards) and bright red kochia bushes in autumn (October). There's plenty to see year-round, including daffodils, tulips, sunflowers, and oil-seed rape blossoms. In addition to flowers, it is home to a small amusement park and traditional Japanese farmhouses.
Once inside, visitors can enjoy a stroll, rent a bicycle, or ride the Seaside Train to get around. The park is entirely wheelchair accessible.
Moreover, Hitachi Seaside Park is located close to other destinations such as Aquaworld Aquarium, Nakaminato Fish Market, and Kairakuen Park. In other words, it's easy to plan a one or two-day trip to all of these major sites!