Ibaraki is a city of several options for free time. There are cultural shrines to visit, as well as little shops and services of all kinds. A visit to Expocity is a must once you are in Ibaraki. It is the largest entertainment complex of Japan with great shopping facilities, a wide range of restaurants and attractions, such as an interactive aqua zoo! You can also spend a day strolling around in the paths of Expo Commemorative ’70 Park, if you’re in the mood for enjoying beautiful nature. In addition, it’s only at a distance of ten minutes by bus from Ibaraki’s main station. Expocity offers you activities for several days, and as it is easily accessible from Ibaraki––you can visit there as often as you wish!
Expocity is a shopaholic’s favorite place, as it has a vast selection of both Japanese and Western top brand stores. Foodies will have their own share with well over 50 different cafés and restaurants offering food from various parts of the world. Besides Japanese, the food cultures from other Asian countries and Western parts of the world are well represented. How would a tasty Hawaiian burger or traditional Korean barbeque sound to you? And of course, there are plenty of Japanese restaurants to choose from––it’s all up to you! Expocity also has several attractions to offer. At the Pokémon EXPO GYM every Pokémon trainer’s dreams come true as they are provided with a chance to play along and talk with the Pokémon. The expo even has Pokémon stand-up shows and a special Pikachu restaurant where you can take break and charge your batteries before continuing to have fun with the Pokémon!
Nifrel is a special kind of interactive aqua zoo, where innovative design meets the creatures of the land and the sea creating a novel experience for the visitors. Colorful lights of the aquarium tint the peaceful movements of a wide variety of different sea creatures swimming in their tanks. You also get to meet a majestic white tiger and the always-so-cute penguins.
Right next to the Nifrel aqua zoo is the Redhorse Osaka Wheel, which is the tallest Ferris wheel in Japan rising up to over 123 meters. You get to admire the beauty of the landscape opening in front of your eyes as the Expo ’70 Commemorative Park starts right from where the area of Expocity ends. The ferris wheel has a floor made of glass, which makes the experience even more exciting as you get to view what’s right underneath your feet!
The Expo ´70 Commemorative Park combines the beauty of Japanese nature with modern art sculptures in a unique way. The park is divided into four different sections according to the seasons of the year and every season is illustrated through appropriate flowers and trees. If you want to spend a day surrounded by beautiful nature and interesting works of art, strolling around the park and having a picnic with your friends would be a perfect way to do so!
Rose is the flower of Ibaraki city and you get to admire the beauty of different roses by visiting Wakazono Park’s Rose Garden. The Rose Garden has 150 different rose kinds and especially during spring and autumn time the blooming over 2 300 roses will take your breath away. You can get to the park by taking a bus near the JR Kyoto line’s Ibaraki station.
There are many traditional temples to visit both in Ibaraki and Osaka area. Sojiji Temple is known as the temple of knives, as every year on April a special ceremony of Hocho (knife) is held at the temple. At the ceremony a priest graciously splits a fish with a knife in one of the temple rooms. Sojiji Temple even has a knife ditch where used knives dedicated to the temple are buried. The temple is located near Hankyu Kyoto Line Sojiji Station, only one station from the Ibaraki-shi main station.
Osaka is a village-like city of a bit less than 3 million people, and it’s only a short train ride away from Ibaraki. Streets are clean and organized. Most streets are lined with beautiful trees and pollution feels minimal. You might expect to see skyscrapers and stressed out people, but instead you’ll find peace and quiet and calm neighborhoods with some lovely, bustling spots.
The city has everything that you could expect to see in a modern metropolis. It is the second largest metropolitan area in Japan after Tokyo. The city offers excellent shopping facilities with countless shops, most of them found in the areas of Chuoo and Kita. Osaka is also famous for its food culture which is described with the term “kuidaore”, meaning “eat until you drop”. Dotonbori is one of the thrilling areas for foodies with a vast selection of different kind of restaurants. A visit to a theme park of Universal Studios Japan is a good way to spend a day, especially if you are a Harry Potter fan!
As for Kyoto, it displays traditional Japanese culture with ancient temples, geishas and tea rooms. From the roughly 2000 Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines in this ancient capital, 17 are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Japanese film and TV industry has its center in Kyoto, and the Kyoto Studio Park Toei Uzumasa Eigamura is an interesting combination of a theme park and a film set with a big collection of traditional Japanese buildings.
Kobe is world famous of its hot springs and delicious Kobe beef. A train ride from Ibaraki station to Kobe takes less than an hour. Kobe has been an important port city for centuries and the atmosphere in the city is quite exotic compared to many other Japanese cities.
Nara is located less than an hour away from Osaka. It was the first permanent capital of Japan and still remains full of historic treasures such as beautiful temples – Daimon-ji Temple with its giant Buddha statue being one of the most famous ones and definitely worth a visit. Nara is also known for the sika deer strolling around the city, especially in Nara Park.