Ibaraki Prefecture can be reached in under one hour from Tokyo. If you are looking to get out of the city and explore somewhere new, then a day trip to Ibaraki can offer many different attractions to keep you entertained. From bungee jumping to space exploration, here are just five great suggestions for a one day trip to Ibaraki:
1. Jump off a suspension bridge
(image by photozou.jp)
This symbolic bridge has giant blue steel towers which evoke a dragon dancing through the sky. The dragon that is illustrated on the walls is also spectacular. At Ryujin Gorge which the bridge passes over, there are also many events throughout the seasons which take advantage of the wonderful view. There is the Koi Nobori (Carp Streamer) Festival from mid-April to mid-May. About 1000 streamers are hung by the bridge to pray for the healthy growth of children, and the sight of magnificently competing streamers over the wonderfully green Ryujin Gorge is overwhelming. During this period, mini carp streamers also make an appearance on the major roads in the area. On Children’s Day (May 5th), kids of junior high school age and younger can cross the bridge for free. From early August to mid-August, the Lantern Festival is held. 500 lanterns and 100 bamboo lanterns (candles placed in hollow bamboo trunks) decorate the area around the bridge which bring about a magical world.
A splendid soundscape is also created from the many wind chimes that come in from all over the country. Admission to cross the bridge is free after 5 p.m. on the days when the lanterns are lit. During November, there is the Fall Foliage Festival. There are many strangely-shaped rocks on the precipices, and Ryujin Gorge stands out even further with the many changes to features such as the waterfalls, the deep pools and the shallows. In this period, the much-praised fresh Hitachi Autumn soba can be eaten. All kinds of events can be enjoyed such as a stamp rally for the surrounding area and wadaiko drum performances. Then, there is bungee jumping which sprang into fame overnight due to a commercial. Since its beginnings in March 2014, over 10,000 people have already taken the plunge. There are plenty of thrills and exhilaration with this dive from the Japan’s highest jump at 100 meters. At several places across the bridge, there are acrylic windows from where you can look straight down into the gorge.
Admission: Adult: ¥ 310 / Child: ¥ 210
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Ryujin Large Suspension Bridge
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Ryujin Large Suspension Bridge
- Tours of Ryujin Large Suspension Bridge
2. Learn about going to space
(image by flickr.com)
JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) is an organization bringing together Japan’s researchers in space development. Its Tsukuba Space Center has been a base for the country’s space development work since its inception in 1972. General entry is possible and visitors can experience cutting-edge technology up close. On entering the facility, the first thing that can be seen at Rocket Plaza is the 50-meter H-II rocket. The purely domestically-made rocket which took about 10 years to develop has a size which is eye-opening. The Space Dome which is the permanent display area is divided into 5 areas in which actual satellites, genuine rocket engines and a life-size model of the Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” (Hope) can be seen up close. There is also a mini-lecture of about 25 minutes given 5 times a day which doesn’t require any reservations. At the back of the Space Dome, there is Planet Cube. There are special exhibitions under themes that change every season and a museum shop. Products related to space such as space food and stationery are popular.
The popular facility tour requires advance reservations. The 3 courses that have been operating up to now will be made into 1 course from October 2015 which will require admission (70 min. duration). The “Kibo” operations control room and the basic training facilities for astronauts are seen here. Also twice a year in spring and autumn, there are special exhibitions in which otherwise inaccessible buildings can be entered so that visitors can get an even deeper knowledge about space.
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Tsukuba Space Center
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Tsukuba Space Center
- Tours of Tsukuba Space Center
3. Enjoy fish at an interactive aquarium
(image by commons.wikimedia.org)
One hour by train directly from Tokyo. The Kanto region’s largest aquarium is composed of 9 areas. In the Encounter Sea zone, there is the giant water tank that is the largest in the entire facility in which you can see the amazing sight of 20,000 fish representing 80 species from offshore Oarai. In the Seas of the World zone, you can see the sharks that are the symbol of the aquarium. Within this zone, you will want to focus on the common smooth-hound, the only shark of its type found only at this aquarium. In the Ocean Sunfish tank which is the largest of its type in the entire nation, several ocean sunfish are raised.
The aquarium also has a Museum zone that is not found in any other current aquarium in which there are numerous deeply interesting exhibits such as a model of a shark 4 meters in length, a model of the world’s largest ocean sunfish, and a specimen of a shark’s tooth. Another attractive feature is the many opportunities for interaction. There is the popular program of the 50-minute Exploration Tour at the Backyard of the aquarium. Separated into the 2 courses of General and Specialist, they are held 3 times a day. The numbered tickets that are distributed when the aquarium opens are given out on a first come, first serve system so you will want to come to the aquarium early.
Then, there is Kidsland which is popular with children. They can watch the 15-minute Fun Fact Fishing video which is shown 4 times a day and enjoyably learn about ocean life through experiments. At the Touching Pool where you will be able to get in touch with the animals, you can pick up creatures such as starfish and sea urchins. Doctor fish which nibble on the cuticles of people are raised here and once you place your hand into the water tank, it’s fun to see the fish close in and start nipping at your skin. You can also observe the Penguins’ Walk Time, and the Aqua Viewing is also popular for being able to chat with the divers in the water.
Admission: Adult: ¥ 1,850 / Child: ¥ 930
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Aqua World Oarai Aquarium
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Aqua World Oarai Aquarium
- Tours of Aqua World Oarai Aquarium
4. Enjoy a nice cold beer
(image by アサヒビール)
The Ibaraki factory opened in 1991. Its 130,000 sq. meter grounds include Japan’s largest beer manufacturing line. In its beer division, 6 brands are brewed including the brand with the largest share in the nation, Super Dry. Outside of the factory, there is a battery of 150 fermentation tanks which can hold the equivalent of 1.4 million 350ml cans of beer! The part of the factory where the final stage of packaging takes place also has jet machines of considerable size. The sight of the many lines going at full speed is incredible.
The factory tour lasts for 90 minutes in which you get a deep understanding of the fermentation process through actual handling of the hops and malt, tank models and a video of the fermentation taking place. After the tour, the beer tasting takes place atop the 60m AIM Tower where you can drink up to 3 tumblers of 4 types of Super Dry. The snacks that are provided with the beer are only found at the Asahi Beer Factory. Popular and delicious, they can be bought as souvenirs at the 1st floor gift shop. Soft drinks are also provided so even non-drinkers can enjoy themselves. That one glass while looking over the Kanto Plain is an exceptional experience.
Another highlight is the lush open garden within the grounds. Located in front of the orientation theater before going on the factory tour, observers inside the factory might feel that they are right in the middle of the water since the pond has a higher location. In the garden, there are about 30 types of trees and flowering plants, and you can take a walk through the area before and after the tour.
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Asahi Beer Ibaraki Factory
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Asahi Beer Ibaraki Factory
- Tours in Asahi Beer Ibaraki Factory
5. View a frozen waterfall
(image by flickr.com)
Fukuroda Falls is located on the Taki River, a tributary of the Kuji River which flows from IbarakiPrefecture into the Pacific Ocean. One characteristic of Fukuroda is the large 4-tiered rock face over which the water flows like a ribbon being pulled. It is from there that it was given its alternate name of Yodo (4 times) Falls, but according to one story, a legendary poet from the Heian Era, Saigyo, once remarked “One has to come and see the waterfall once every season to get a sense of its true character” as a form of praise which may also be the origin for the name. It is from its beauty that it was selected as one of the Three Great Waterfalls of Japan. The town of Daigo where the waterfall is located is in the middle of the mountains so it gets especially chilly in the winter. For that reason, the water that flows over the falls freezes and Fukuroda becomes a pure white ice fall which can be observed.
During the winter, there are events which include the lighting up of the falls, and the illumination of the suspension bridge in front of the observation point which create a wintry fairytale-like scene. Also the autumn colors at the falls and in the surrounding vicinity between early and mid-November are a highlight. The trees that turn red and gold during that time bring out the wonder of the falls. There are 2 ways to reach the observation point. The course that heads for the point by getting out of the tunnel is impressive for suddenly bringing the falls right in front of you, while the approach from the riverside walking path on the opposite side means that you can see the falls from a distance and it’s great for that leisurely stroll while enjoying the combination of the falls with the autumn colors. Along with being able to view the front of Fukuroda Falls from the observation point, there is another observation point 40m above the ground which can be accessed from behind via 2 elevators so that you can get a bird’s-eye view of the falls. If you’re good at walking, then taking the Tsukioreyama hiking course is also good. The 20-minute trip up to the top ensures a close view of Fukuroda Falls that can only be seen by the climbers.
Admission: Adult: ¥ 300 / Child: ¥ 150