The Sun doesn't sleep in Ibaraki
Everyone knows that Japan is the land of the rising sun, but since my trip to Ibaraki, I have found a new “sun” for myself.
Between a day of climbing in the mountains, wandering around gardens, and visiting solemn temples, “my sun” never sleeps. Can you guess it? My sun is composed of autumn colored leaves with different scales of yellow, orange, and red, all standing out against the immense forests and mountains.
Text: Que Lan. Photos: many photographers
Fukuroda Falls – Vivid red maple leaves
Located in Daigo, Fukuroda district, the Fukuroda falls ( Yodo no Taki in Japanese) is one of the three most beautiful waterfalls in Japan. It is 73m wide while its height reaches 120m. The falls consist of 4 tiers formed by layers of sedimentary rock stacked 15 million years ago. During autumn, visitors will have a chance to contemplate the stunning beauty of the falls among the yellow and red maple leaves. All of us stood patiently in a long line, waiting to have the best place to take pictures of the charming Fukuroda.
To reach the falls, you need to walk past bustling streets with lots of souvenir shops. Don’t be too distracted by the pretty goods there. You should rather spend your time strolling down the small path first. Visit the rustic houses along the road and let your soul be carried away by nature. When your stomach begins to growl, don’t forget to try Ayu, the most delicious and expensive grilled fish in Japan. Marinated with salt and special seasonings, this dish will make you want to eat more and more.
A “tunnel” in Hananuki Valley
Stretching from the Tsuchitakle Bridge down the Hananuki River to Torisone, the Hananuki Valley is one of Japan’s most enchanting landscapes at any time of year. There is a 60m suspension bridge crossing the valley, which is a site of constant traffic jams as crowds of visitors go there to sightsee and take pictures. When autumn comes, the bridge is engulfed by trees with changing leaves. From there, you can also see Shiomi Falls and the Hananuki River winding around the narrow valley. What a serene place!
Bungee jumping from Honshu’s longest suspension bridge
Situated in northern Ibaraki, the blue Ryujin Bridge crossing the Ryujin Gorge in Okukuji Natural Park is the highest place for bungee jumping. At a height of more than 100m, this bridge is an exciting challenge for adventurous travelers. Ryujin is also the longest bridge on Honshu at a length of 375m. What could be more ideal than strolling across and taking in the beauty of nature in the autumn weather?
The magical autumn changes cover not only the forests but the cities in red. Ibaraki has a myriad of destinations awaiting you.
Hitachi Park, get lost in the flower paradise of Kochia
Located near Ajigaura beach with the paradise of flowers in every season, Hitachi Seaside Park is always crowded with visitors sightseeing and enjoying their weekends. In autumn, everyone coming to the park will be surprised by the red “hills” of Kochia. The well-designed winding walkways enable visitors to wander and breathe fresh air. You can also rent a bike to cycle around the fantastic floral roads and capture your memories with great photos.
Apart from Kochia, there are numerous types of flowers such as cosmos, lilies, and globe amaranth on the hills. There is an amusement area with a large ferris wheel for you to admire the park, sea, and colorful flowers from above.
Street food: Ayu no Shioyaki – Japanese salt-grilled sweetfish
One of my favorite street dishes in Ibaraki is grilled Ayu with salt. Of the numerous kinds of fish, Ayu is very expensive and favored by Japanese people. Despite its high price, the way to prepare and enjoy the fish is quite simple. Ayu fish is salted, skewered, then grilled over charcoal. You can eat it without sauce. The fish is yellow, crispy, sweet, and tasty, attracting all visitors. In September (the breeding season of Ayu), you can enjoy fish with buttery fish eggs. Prices start at 400 JPY ~ 85,000 VND (~$3.8).
There aren’t any direct routes from Vietnam to Ibaraki. You can fly from Vietnam ti Narita Airport then travel by Tsukuba Express to Tsukuba, Ibaraki (45 minutes). You can also take a flight to Haneda, Tokyo and then travel from Akihabara to Tsukuba by Tsukuba Express or from Ueno to Mito (the capital of Ibaraki) by Express train in 1 hour.
Ushiku Daibutsu – the world’s biggest copper statue of Buddha, Oarai Isosaki Temple, Kodokan – the largest school in Japan in Edo period, Aqua World Oarai, and more.
Ushiku Daibutsu Statue
Oarai Isosaki Temple
Aqua World Oarai Aquarium
English is not popular in Japan. You should have a guide support you and bring the hotel’s card with you in case you get lost.
JPY. 100 JPY ~$0.99. You’d better exchange money in Vietnam. Otherwise, you can exchange money at the airports or use your credit cards at shopping malls. Always bring cash with you.
Grilled Hitachi beef served with sake or apricot wine produced by Ibaraki farmers, Anko hot pot, Soba Hitachi Aki, rose pork, fermented soybeans, and melons. The dishes aren’t salty. You can enjoy them with salt or spices.
Ibaraki's Beef Grilled
Anko hot pot
Soba Hitachi Aki
Ibaraki - Mito - Fukushima - Hakone – Tokyo (6 days). Price 30,900,000 VND (~$1.385). Contact: Vietravel Hanoi, 3 Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi. Tel: 04.3933 1978. Website: www.travel.com.vn.