Hi everyone, my name is Kaori Sakai, a self-proclaimed “caravan girl”! If we reach 1,000 followers on twitter, I will become an “official” Carstay caravan girl, so I hope you can support me with your following!
This is a special article introducing the best spots to visit by car in my home region, Ibaraki. You might have the preconception that Ibaraki is a bit of a dodgy area, but please read until the end of this article to see if your mind can’t be changed! While it was chosen as officially one of the least attractive prefectures for 2 years in succession, it is unofficially a great place to see. Let this Caravan Girl born and bred in Ibaraki introduce the real treasures of Ibaraki!
So, let’s begin! I’m pretty sure you will be planning your next trip to Ibaraki once you have finished reading this article!
So, where is Ibaraki? (Just in case you didn’t know!)
The top 3 must-visit famous places in Ibaraki
① Fukuroda waterfall (Oko-machi) One of Japan’s three most famous waterfalls
② Kairakuen Garden (Mito city) One of Japan’s three most famous parks
Bamboo tree pose!
One of Japan’s three most famous gardens along with Kenrokuen and Korakuen (same name, different park) The area was inaugurated by Masaaki Tokugawa in 1842, the 9th generation of the Tokugawa family which ruled over Japan, with the wish to open the area for the enjoyment for the public. The area is famous for plums and azaleas, and is yet another area which has different charms depending on the season in which you visit.
③ Kashima Jingu (Kashima city), One of Japan’s three famous tower gates
Kashima Jingu Shrine is the oldest Shinto shrine in the Kanto district, housing the “Mushi-no-Okami”, the god of the foundation Japan, as well as martial arts. It is also designated as a significant cultural asset. With 40 litres of spring water a day, there is a somewhat other worldly atmosphere in Mitaraiike.
④ Kasama Inari Shrine (Kasama city) One of Japan’s three most famous Inari shrines
One of Japan’s three Inari shrines, it was built in the year 651, with over 1340 years of history. Over 3.5 million people visit the shrine for worship each year. The shrine is said to house the God of life, as well as the God of business and bounty, and is often visited by many who pray for the bounty of prosperity.
・Address: Kasama 1 banchi, Kasama City, Ibaraki Prefecture
“Actually, Ibaraki is a great place!” Other must visit places
The next places are not so well known, but I’m sure you will be recommending these places to your friends after visiting!
⑤ Aqua World – Ibaraki Ooarai Aquarium (Ooarai Town)
Ibaraki boasts one of Japan’s top aquariums, and as it’s shark logo suggests, the aquarium specializes in breeding and raising sharks. This aquarium has the largest variety of sharks in Japan, and there is also a dolphin show to be enjoyed by adults and children alike!
・Address: 8252-3 Isohama-cho, Oarai-cho, Higashi-Ibaraki-gun, Ibaraki Prefecture
⑥ Ushiku Daibutsu(Buddha statue) in Ushiku city
This Buddha statue was recorded as the tallest in the world back in 1995, in the Guinness Book of World Records. It is 120 meters in height (actual height 100m, with the pedestal 20m in height). It is also possible to explore the inside of the statue, as with other Buddha statues in Japan, where you can photograph great views from inside as well as at the observation deck at the top, where you can even view Tokyo Skytree and Mount Fuji. There are several parks and zoos surrounding the area, and it is known as a popular dating spot!
⑦ Oku Hitachi Kirara village(Hitachi city)
This area features barbecue facilities, hotel accommodation, motor home camping areas, and its most popular attraction, the “Wakuwaku slider” which is Japan’s longest slide, at 1,188 meters. If visiting with family, the kids are sure to have a great time here!
・Address: 863-1 Shiiriken-cho, Hitachi City, Ibaraki Prefecture
Recommended places for coastal drives in Ibaraki!
Next, we will introduce the coastline hot spots in Ibaraki!
⑧ Ooarai Isosaki Shrine (Ooarai city)
It is said that this shrine was built by the God of Ooarai in the year 856. The torii gates at the front of the shrine are particularly famous, and the shrine’s ruler is “Ookuninushi” as well as “Sukunahikonanomikoto” who are legendary Gods in Japanese folklore. It is also the setting for the famous anime “Girls and Panzer” and is one of the oft-visited shrines for anime fans. Seeing the Torii gates at sunrise is truly breathtaking, and is known as a “power spot” (special places often with amazing views or natural beauty, where one is considered to receive positive energy)
⑨ Takado Beach
※高戸小浜海岸 © IKEMON750 クリエイティブコモンズライセンス（表示4.0 国際）https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
This is a scenic coastal spot with two small coves that run along it. It has also been selected as one of Japan's top 100 places to visit. The blue of the sky and the sea, the green of pines from the sea cliff, and the sparkling white scenery of the beach is picture perfect in its beauty. The area fascinated and attracted many significant cultural figures such as Yokoyama Taikan, Okakura Tenshin, Noguchi Ujo. The starry sky is beautiful at night as you can see in this stunning photo!
⑩ Couronne Tsukuba
Once you have visited Ibaraki and enjoyed all that it has to offer, you can buy delicious bread treats on your way back from Tokyo in at “Couronne Tsukuba”. This area has a café where those who purchase the bread treats can relax at the terrace with a tea or coffee on the house. A perfect place to relax after your long car trip. My personal recommendation would be the melon bread (pictured above). There are many different face designs to choose from, so you can pick your favourite to enjoy.
・Address: 152-40 Matsunoki, Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecure
We hope that this article has interested you in Ibaraki, and perhaps changed your image of it, if it wasn’t that great before! There are still many many more things I would like to introduce to you about Ibaraki, which I will present to you in articles to come, so watch this space!