Ibaraki Prefecture (茨城県 Ibaraki-ken) is located in central Honshū and bounded by Fukushima Prefecture to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the east, and Tochigi and Saitama prefectures to the west. The northern part is occupied by mountains of the Abukuma (阿武隈山地) and Yamizo (八溝山地) mountain ranges, and the larger southern section is an extension of the Kantō Plain. The prefecture contains several large lakes and lagoons. The climate is relatively mild.
The modern-day prefecture was known as Hitachi Province (常陸国 Hitachi no Kuni) under the ancient provincial system (国軍 kokugun). The city of Mito (水戸) was the seat of an important branch of the Tokugawa family in the Edo Period (1600-1868) and became a centre of scholarship. The present prefectural name and boundaries were established in 1875 after the Meiji Restoration.
Statue of Tokugawa Mitsukuni in Kairakuen
Relative abundance of level land and proximity to Tōkyō helped make Ibaraki a leading agricultural prefecture. Rice, grains, and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables are produced in significant quantities. Fishing and mining used to play a significant role, too. More importantly, Ibaraki’s proximity to the Tōkyō-Yokohama industrial area has led to the development of electrical equipment, food processing, steel, petrochemical, (nuclear) energy, and precision machining industries. The world-famous company Hitachi Ltd. was founded in the city by the same name (日立市 Hitachi-shi).
The Kashima Coastal Industrial Region (鹿島臨海工業地帯 Kashima Kōgyō Chiiki), as well as the Tsukuba Academic New Town, are large-scale projects that were launched in the 1960s and 70s. Tsukuba is now known as “Tsukuba Science City” (筑波研究学園都市 Tsukuba Kenkyū Gakuen Toshi) and is home to two universities, sixty national research facilities, and 240 private research facilities. In 2005, Tsukuba Station was connected to Akihabara Station in Tōkyō by the Tsukuba Express (TX), which covers the 58.3 kilometres between the two cities in forty-five minutes.
Ibaraki Prefectural Museum (茨城県立歴史館) in Mito
- 2,885,625 residents (April 2018)
- 6,095.72 square kilometres
- Population density: 473 inhabitants per square kilometre (April 2018)
The first full-scale winery in Japan, Chateau Kamiya, was built in 1903 by Denbei Kamiya
The capital Mito is famous for the Kairaku-en, one of Japan’s most famous gardens. Ibaraki features lakes, lagoons, sandy beaches, as well as one of Japan’s larger waterfalls, the Fukuroda Falls (袋田の滝 Fukurodanotaki), close to the hot spring resort of Fukuroda.
- Mito: Kairaku-en (偕楽園), one of the Three Great Gardens in Japan; Kōdōkan (弘道館), the former feudal academy; the remnants of Mito Castle; Lake Senba; Art Tower Mito; Ibaraki Prefectural Museum of History; The Tokugawa Museum; Tokiwa Jinja (常磐神社).
- Seizansō: the retirement home of the legendary second daimyō of Mito, Tokugawa Mitsukuni in Hitachiōta.
- Ōarai (大洗): Aqua World, a large aquarium with over sixty tanks; Bakumatsu Museum.
- Kashima: Kashima Shrine (鹿島神宮 Kashima-jingū).
- Tsukuba (つくば): Tsukuba Botanical Garden; Science Museum of Map and Survey.
- Bandō (坂東市): Ibaraki Nature Museum
- Ushiku (牛久): Ushiku Daibutsu (牛久大仏), one of the world’s tallest Buddha statues, standing 120 metres tall; Chateau Kamiya, one of Japan’s eldest wineries.
- Ibaraki Prefecture (from the Japan Directory)
- Ibaraki Guide (in Japanese and English)
- Ibaraki Prefecture Official Website (in English)
- Tsukuba Express (TX) (in English)
- Oarai Museum of Bakumatsu-Meiji History (in Japanese)
- Ibaraki Nature Museum (in Japanese and English)
- Chateau Kamiya (in Japanese)
The Great Buddha in Ushiku