A One-Night, Two-Day Historical Journey in Mito City: Exploring Landmarks from the Edo and Meiji Periods
There are many spots related to the Tokugawa shogunate family, who led the Japanese government during the Edo period (1603 - 1868) in Mito. The Tokugawa Gosanke, three branches that were allowed to carry the Tokugawa family name, existed during this time and held status that ranked next to the shogunate family. The Mito Tokugawa family, the lords of the Mito Domain (present-day central and north Ibaraki Prefecture), was one of those families. The Mito Tokugawa family emphasized education in Japanese history and the sciences with their retainers, which became famously known as Mitogaku.
In addition to facilities related to Mitogaku, Mito has a museum where visitors can enjoy historical exhibits associated with the Tokugawa family, and historical buildings such as a former school established during the Meiji Period (1868-1912). Exploring these spots will deepen your understanding of Japan`s history during the Edo period and the beginning of modernization.
1 night, 2 days
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 Ote Gate and Ninomaru Sumiyagura Tower were also reconstructed based on historical documents.
Kodokan Mito Domain School
Kodokan was established in 1841 by Nariaki Tokugawa, the ninth feudal lord of the Mito Domain. It was the largest school among the warrior clan and comparable to a university by today's standards. Students could study medicine, pharmacy, astronomy, and martial arts. Japan’s last shogun, Yoshinobu Tokugawa, was educated at the Kodokan for five years from the age of six. After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Yoshinobu spent four months confined to a room in Shizendo, part of the Kodokan complex at the time.Read More
Modern Kaiseki & Wine Tousuian
Modern Kaiseki & Wine Tousuian offers modern kaiseki cuisine made with ingredients produced in Ibaraki Prefecture.
Modern kaiseki cuisine is a full-course Japanese meal that adopts Western cooking methods. It can be enjoyed together with wine selected by the owner-cum-sommelier.
The restaurant is a three-storied building with an expansive space on the first floor where you can feel nature's beauty. There are table and counter seats as well as semi-private rooms.
The second floor houses a reception hall for parties with a capacity of 60 people while the third floor has private rooms ideal for small gatherings.
The restaurant offers menus for celebrations, casual set menus, and bento-style dishes.
Besides alcoholic beverages, we recommend the Tokugawa Shogun Coffee by SAZA COFFEE. The local coffeemaker made this coffee brew inspired by Yoshinobu Tokugawa of the Mito Domain, the Edo shogunate's last feudal lord.
Kairakuen Garden is ranked among Japan’s top three most beautiful gardens, alongside Kenrokuen in Kanazawa and Korakuen in Okayama. The garden was established in 1842 by Nariaki Tokugawa, the ninth feudal lord of the Mito Domain. It has since served as a place of relaxation and recreation for the public.
Kairakuen is famous for its Plum Blossom Festival (Ume Matsuri) held from late February to early March. It is home to around 3,000 plum trees from 100 different varieties. Cherry blossoms and azalea in the spring and Japanese bush clovers in autumn keep Kairakuen looking beautiful year-round.
Located next to Kairakuen Garden, Tokiwa Shrine is the largest shrine in Mito City. It is dedicated to Tokugawa Mitsukuni and Tokugawa Nariaki, the second and ninth feudal lords of the Mito Domain during the Edo Period (1603–1868).
Additionally, the Giretsukan building contains paintings, calligraphy, and artworks left by the two lords.
Mito Plaza Hotel
This luxury hotel is surrounded by lush greenery, making it the perfect escape from daily life.
The hotel prides itself on getting to know its guests and providing everyone who stays with personalized hospitality. English-speaking staff is on hand to assist guests who can’t speak Japanese.
Mito Plaza Hotel
The Tokugawa Museum was established in 1977 by the Public Interest Incorporated Foundation to house objects and writings passed down from the Mito Tokugawa Family. The exhibits were donated by Kuniyuki Tokugawa, the 13th Lord of the Mito Domain.
Approximately 30,000 items in the collection are associated with Tokugawa Ieyasu (Japan’s first shogun), his son Yorifusa Tokugawa, and their families.
The museum also carries the manuscript of "The Great History of Japan" (Dai Nihon-shi) and around 30,000 historical documents used to write the book.
The Tokugawa Museum is the only facility in Japan to house such an extensive collection of materials and objects relating to the lives of Japan’s daimyo (feudal lords. It's well worth a visit if you’d like to discover more about this period in Japan’s history.
Photo courtesy of the Tokugawa Museum
Ibaraki Prefectural Archives and Museum
The Ibaraki Prefectural Archives and Museum (Mito City) was established in 1974. Permanent exhibits showcase the history of Ibaraki from ancient times to the present day. The museum itself is housed on a plot spanning 72,000m2. This formerly was a residence during the Edo Period (1603–1868) and later a Western-style school building from the Meiji Period (1868–1912).
During autumn, the museum grounds are fantastic to see bright yellow ginkgo trees, a seasonal highlight in Japan.
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.
This restaurant uses local ingredients to make traditional dishes using recipes dating from the Meiji Period (1868-1912).
Yamaguchi-ro is a must-visit for anyone looking for a truly authentic Japanese dining experience!