Mito area is the major city in Ibaragi Prefecture. It has one of the best 3 Japanese garden Kairaku-en; the city is known because of Mito Kōmon who is historic Tokugawa Mitsukuni. Kasama area was developed due to Kasama Inari Shrine (one of the best 3 Inari Shrine in Japan) and Kasama castle. Lately, Kasama ware Japanese pottery is getting popular. Mito area hosts Plum Festival in February and Kōmon Festival in August. Kasama area hosts Japanese pottery Festivals in spring and autumn; that attract many visitors.
1. Spot Ranking in Mito – Kasama area
5th. Hitachinokuni Izumo Shrine
Hitachinokuni Izumo Shrine was built in 1992 as a branch of Izumo-taisha Shrine in Shimane Prefecture. In 2014, the shrine got the name; people would come to pray for good relationship, good luck, successful business and steer clear of accidents.
The high light of this place would be their worship place; its design is sophisticated and all-cypress building is the oldest one in Japan. Their prayer house has a huge 16 meters and 6t sacred rope in the front; inside of this place, the god Ohkuninushinokami is placed. The opening time: 8:00～17:00.
From Mito station, take Mito Line to Fukuhara station. (duration about 35 min) Walk about 7 min
Kōdōkan was opened by Tokugawa Nariaki who was 7th prominent Japanese daimyō who ruled the Mito. It was registered as National Heritage of Japan as Early Modern Japanese educational heritage site.
Kōdōkan used to be the biggest educational venue at the time, it was used to teach wide range of subjects: academic work, Japanese martial arts, medicine and astronomy. This was a Bushi-do school. Kōdōkan created its very own philosophy “Mitogaku”.
This philosophy influenced the end of Samurai era and its leaders such as Yoshida Shōin and Saigō Takamori. Inside of this historical site, there are many structures that are registered as Important Cultural Properties: the main gate,
the main building, the practice hall where martial arts exams were taken and Kōdōkan memorial. Once visitors enter this place, they would feel as if they time trip to the past. The opening time is 2/20～9/30: 9:00～17:00, 10/1～2/19: 9:00～16:45, and closed 12/29～12/31. The ticket price is 200 yen for an adult, 100 yen for a child under 15 or a senior citizen over 70. Free for under 6.
From Mito station, Walk about 7 min and you can reach.
Kobuntei is a historic three-story wooden building. It is made up of a main house and a one story annex, the nobility’s private quarters. Nariaki played a key role in the Kobuntei’s construction.
He would invite writers, artists, and residents of his domain to the Kobuntei and host parties composing Japanese poetry and events to entertain the old. The nobility’s private quarters also served as evacuation site in case a fire broke out on the castle grounds.
It was used by feudal lord’s wife and entourage. The word “Kobun,” another name for the Japanese plum, originated from China. On August 2, 1945, the Kobuntei was completely burned down as a result of an aerial attack, and took three years from 1955 to rebuild.
From JR Mito station take a bus from the north exit bus terminal; the ride would be about 20 min.
Kairaku-en is one of three Great Gardens of Japan along side with Kenroku-en in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture and Koraku-en in Okayama. In Edo period, July 1842 ,Tokugawa Nariaki was 9th prominent Japanese daimyō who ruled the Mito Domain; he built this garden for his people as a great relaxation place.
Kairaku-en is about 3,000,000㎡, about 64 times bigger than the Tokyo Dome. It is the second largest public park after the Central Park in NYC. Visitor would be able to see moso bamboo trees after passing the main entrance. There are the old healing water fountain and Koubuntei which is a small cottage built by , Tokugawa Nariaki himself. There are about 3000 plum trees, which can be divided into 100 different groups.
From the end of February to the end of March, they would host the Plum Festival. From April, the cherry blossom season would start as well as rhododendrons would be opening up. Bush clover would be nice during autumn; early winter, visitors can see cherry blossom as well.
The opening time is 7:00 to 18:00, from 1st of October to 19th of February. From February 20th to September 30th, the opening time would be 6:00 to 19:00. The garden is opening all year around. The entrance to the garden is free. However, entering the small cottage would be ticketed: 200 yen for an adult and 100 yen for a child age 6 to 15.
1st. Kasama Inari Shrine
Kasama Inari Shrine has a very long history; this shrine attracts about 350’000 visitors a year. this makes Kasama
Inari Shrine as the busiest shrine in Ibaraki Prefecture. Inari Shrine’s main branch is Fushimi Inari-taisha In Kyoto but this shrine has longer history than that. It was built in 661 therefore it has 1350 years history. Kasama Inari Shrine was built for the god Ukanomitama who was a deity in classical Japanese mythology; the god has the highest class and people normally would call the god “Inari”.
Kasama Inari Shrine’s main structure was built in the end of Edo time period and it was registered as important cultural property. Its detailed craftsmanship of carving must not be missed. The Kasama Chrysanthemum festival would take place during the autumn season, it would attract many visitors.
During the festival, Worshipping Yabusame and Worship dance festival would be also happening. There is a shopping district near by, where visitors can get some shopping done. The famous handmade Inari Japanese rice cracker can be bought from Nakamise – Marui. This shop uses local grown rice and natural spring water to make this signature snack. The opening time is from 6:00am to sun down. The ticket price is Free entrance.
From JR Mito station take JR Mito Line and get off at Kasama station. Kasama Inari Shrine is about 20 min walk from the station or 5 min by taxi. There is a tourist bus service (no service on Mondays) which goes around the town and takes visitors to Kasama Inari Shrine as well.
2. Getting to Mito station from Tokyo
From Tokyo main station, a traveller can take Tokiwa No79 to get Mito station. Duration :about 1hour 30 min Ticket Price is 3818 yen. Ticket can be purchase from Midorino Madoguchi (green ticket kiosk). If you are traveling often by train during your whole stay in Japan, It’s recommended to get a prepaid train card: Suica or PASMO.
3. Other Area List
Hitachinaka, Oarai and Nakaminato
Mito – Kasama
Tsukuba, Tsuchiura and Ushiku
Itako, Hokota and Kashima
Yuki and Chikusei
Fukuroda, Daigo and Hitachiota
Kitaibaraki and Hitachi