Ibaraki Prefecture is Japan’s leading producer and eater of natto, or fermented soybeans. A sticky and pungent staple of the national cuisine that has long perplexed Western palates.
However, fermentation isn’t Ibaraki’s main draw.
It’s also the birthplace of aikido, the location of the seasonal Fukuroda Falls. One of the world’s most giant Buddhas, and the country’s highest bungee jump. Great surfing places may be found throughout the eastern seashores. You may also take an overnight ship from Oarai to Hokkaido.
Mito City, located just northeast of Tokyo, is well renowned for its Kairaku-en Garden, ranked as one of the top three most beautiful Japanese gardens.
With over 3,000 plum trees, it’s undoubtedly a popular spot to see the plum blossom when winter gives way to spring, but it’s also a relaxing stroll around the serene hillside setting the rest of the year.
The annual umeshu (plum wine) festival provides an opportunity to sample this delectably sweet beverage. From brands all around the country.
Mito is also where you can get your fill, or lack thereof. Of fermented soybeans in any of the city’s welcoming restaurants that serve full-course natto dinners.
Fukuroda Falls in northernmost Ibaraki run through tiered levels that change with the seasons. Camping, fishing, hiking, and hot springs are also available in the neighboring region of Oto-Kuji. Oarai is a popular beach resort along the coast that attracts large numbers throughout the summer. A little-known vehicle ferry service runs from Oarai to Tomakomai in Hokkaido, taking around nine hours — a less-traveled route between Honshu and the untamed northern island.
Head to Mount Tsukuba in the prefecture’s heart for an unusual but gratifying blend of hiking and research. Visit the Tsukuba-san temple on the way up to make sacrifices to the deity of matchmaking and marital bliss. Tsukuba Science City, located in the mountain’s shadow, is home to nearly 200,000 researchers and students dedicated to scientific advancement. Visit the Tsukuba Expo Center or the Tsukuba Space Center and tour the development’s laboratories.