Ibaraki

For other places with the same name, see Ibaraki (disambiguation).

Ibaraki (茨城県 Ibaraki-ken) is a prefecture in the Kanto region of Japan.

Cities

Other destinations

Get in

By plane

Opened in 2010, Ibaraki Airport is in the city of Omitama, near the center of the prefecture and 40 minutes away from Mito by bus. Travelers arriving at the airport can take advantage of a 500 yen highway express bus to Tokyo station. The airport was initially planned as a low-cost alternative to the major airports of Tokyo (85 km and 1.5 hours away). Currently (as of March 2016) the airport serves connections through budget airlines to 4 Japanese cities, 3 Chinese cities, Taiwan, and the Philippines. Prepaid SIM cards are available for sale at the airport. Taxis are available for all flight arrivals but it is an expensive fare to take one to any nearest major city or train station, especially with bus service coordinated with arrival flight times. Airport staff is courteous with some English and Chinese language ability. There is a duty-free gift shop, a small ramen restaurant, and convenience store on-site. The convenience store staff are not able to make change or give directions or other advice; please use the adjacent information counter.

If it can be more convenient for travel plans, it is HIGHLY recommended to use Ibaraki Airport. On such a small scale, most passengers can enter the terminal, check-in, go through security, and be in the departure lobby in less than 10 minutes. All long-term parking is also free, so it is worth considering if an acquaintance is planning a car pick-up.

By bus

An easy and cheap way to get to the sights of Ibaraki is via the JR Kanto Highway bus. A number of buses leave from both Tokyo and Shinjuku Stations to many destinations in Ibaraki, some as often as 4 times per hour. While bus access to Ibaraki is convenient, often faster, cheaper, and easier than by train, bus transit within cities in Ibaraki is not close to as developed as in more major urban areas.

By train

There are no Shinkansen stations in Ibaraki, but the Joban Line has passed through Mito on its way to northern Tohoku (although after the 2011 earthquake, certain sections are in repair and so the last major city on this line is presently Iwaki; train travel from Mito to Sendai should be through Koriyama and local train service between Tokyo and Sendai should avoid Ibaraki). There is an express train called the "Fresh Hitachi" which links Ueno and the capital Mito in approx. 1 hour. The local Joban line takes just over 2 hours. The Tsukuba Express Line connects Tsukuba to Akihabara in downtown Tokyo in about 45 minutes.

See

Ushiku Daibutsu

Do

Sports are a major draw for domestic travel. Ibaraki, being a coastal area, is a high-volume destination for sunbathers and surfers from all over Japan, mainly the Greater Tokyo area. Its beaches are clean, and have surfable waves nearly all year round. Most towns set up an official beach patrol/lifeguard station for the summer holiday season of late July/early August. Hirai and Oritsu Beaches and Kashima Kaihin Park in Kashima, Ootake Beach in Hokota and Oarai Sun Beach in Oarai are all very popular summer destinations. Spectator sports are plentiful, with teams in Japan's top leagues of soccer, basketball, and volleyball, and the prefecture boasts dozens of quality golf courses for play or for watching Japan Tour events. If the timing is right, you can catch a pro wrestling show from Hitachi Pro Wrestling, a group that puts on events (usually free) throughout Ibaraki and neighboring prefectures year-round.

Shopping is also popular, especially for day-trippers from metro Tokyo where high cost of land makes large shopping centers impossible. Residents of Tochigi and Fukushima will drive to Ibaraki's two CostCo outlets in Hitachinaka and Tsukuba. The Aeon shopping mall chain is ubiquitous in Ibaraki with large malls in Mito and Tsuchiura with reasonably sized shopping centers also in Tsukuba and Shimotsuma. (Mito's Aeon Mall was until recently the largest shopping center in Japan while Shimotsuma's is famous as "JUSCO" from the cult movie "Shimotsuma no Monogatari".) In Tsukuba city are the Iias and Lala Garden shopping centers, with Iias close to rivaling the larger Aeon malls in size. Mito's Keisei department store is a destination for people seeking luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Coach, and Tiffany. A large outlet mall is in Ami town, with view of the Ushiku Daibutsu. Hitachinaka city has the Fashion Cruise shopping center, adjacent to both CostCo and the Seaside Park. However, only the Mito shopping options are very easily accessed by train; other locations would need to be accessed by private car or by bus.

World-standard art and history museums are in Mito, Kasama, Kita-Ibaraki, and Tsukuba cities.

Eat

Ibaraki is a major producer of natto (fermented beans). It is healthy and the locals eat it often for breakfast on rice. Many foreigners (and Japanese) find it too stinky to eat, though some quite like it. Asking your opinion of natto is a common topic of small talk with strangers don't be afraid of offending someone if you don't like it, as it will likely earn a laugh either way. It is often the first thing asked after someone, Japanese or foreign, mentions being in Mito or Ibaraki.

Ibaraki is famous in Japan for its chestnuts and melons.

Tsukuba, due to its position as an international education and research hub for technology and space exploration, has among the highest percentage of foreign residents in the country. As a result, it is possible to find good restaurants of many styles, including Mexican, Iranian, and African cuisine.

Drink

Most towns have their share of chain and family owned Izakaya; Hitachinaka City is famous for its microbrewed Nest Beer.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, March 10, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.