A prefecture located in the northeast Kanto region, its total area of 6,095km2（2,353mile2）places it in the middle of the nation’s 47 prefectures and makes it slightly bigger than the 174th-ranked country of Brunei（5,765km2＝2,226mile2）. Centered on the city of Mito which is located in the center of Ibaraki, the southern area has modern hi-tech cities such as Tsukuba while the northern area has specialized regions for agriculture and industry such as Hitachi City.
Kairaku-en is a particular spot that is one of Japan’s 3 great gardens famous for its plum blossoms. Along with natural sightseeing sites such as Fukuroda Falls which is one of Japan’s 3 great waterfalls, Mt. Tsukuba and Kasumigaura, there are also numerous historical heritage sites including Kashima Shrine which is the Kanto region’s largest and oldest shrine and Kasama Inari Shrine. In addition, unique sightseeing spots such as the Ushiku Buddha, Ryuujin Suspension Bridge, Hitachi Seaside Park and the JAXA Tsukuba Space Center are not to be missed.
When it comes to Ibaraki, there is the natto (fermented beans) of Mito. There are people, including foreigners, who cannot eat natto, but there are various types of natto in the prefecture so you will want to try at least some of them. As well, there is Okukuji Shamo which is one of the nation’s top 3 free-range chicken breeds, inarizushi (sushi wrapped in fried tofu) which is a specialty in Kasama City, plum wine and hoshiimo potatoes. Melon baum kuchen cakes even won 1st place in a souvenir competition in Ibaraki.
The Ueno-Tokyo Line from Tokyo Station up to Mito in the center of Ibaraki takes 1 hour and 14 minutes with a trip to Ushiku taking just an hour. Taking the Tsukuba Express via Akihabara is handy if you are going in the direction of Tsukuba. However, taking the express bus from Tokyo Station to Kashima Shrine is fast (about 2 hours). If you’re touring around the prefecture, then driving a rental car instead of taking a train or bus is more convenient.
With easy access from the capital, the Mito area makes for a good base for tourism. As well, sightseeing in areas to the south such as Tsukuba and Tsuchiura, and then the northern area of Hitachi along with the seaside Oarai is also easy.