Welcome back to Mogami's Japanese Wellness Tour
Oarai city, Ibaraki
Through this virtual wellness tour around Japan, we hope to introduce to you a few wellness-related facts about each prefecture alongside traditional Japanese crafts (伝統工芸品 dentou-kougei-hin) that have been practised, mastered and treasured over decades, especially as incorporating creativity and hands-on arts is one of the wellness principles that we focus on at Mogami.
At Mogami, we appreciate that practising your creative self is essential to long-term wellbeing.
Our goal is to highlight each prefecture's wellness practices to empower you to take control of your holistic wellbeing in a way that works for you.
Come along to discover, learn, and experience each prefecture's beauty and speciality.
Onto the fourth destination of our tour: Ibaraki
Kashimanada Coast, Ibaraki
Did you know?
Ibaraki Prefecture, located in the heart of Japan's Kanto region, can be easily reached by train from Tokyo within an hour. This region is an amazing tourist destination that has a lot to offer to visitors of all ages. One of its most popular attractions is the ever-changing beauty of 'Hitachi Seaside Park.' Whether you are on a family vacation, a romantic getaway, or a girls' trip, Ibaraki offers something for everyone. You can explore its historical sites, natural wonders, and parks, and indulge in the practice of forest bathing to boost your well-being and feel rejuvenated.
Iconic Symbol: Mount Tsukuba
Mount Tsukuba, also known as the 'Fuji of the West and Tsukuba of the East,' features two peaks: 'Mount Nantai' and 'Mount Nyotai.' It holds sacred significance at Tsukuba Shrine and, despite its modest elevation of around 880 meters, offers stunning panoramic views of the Kanto region. Visitors can even catch glimpses of Mount Fuji in the distance. The pristine precincts of Mount Tsukuba Shrine are located halfway up the mountain, where nature remains nearly untouched. With abundant mountain trails to explore and a variety of transportation options, including ropeways and cable cars, Mount Tsukuba is an accessible destination suitable for all.
Natural Wonder: Hitachi Seaside Park
Hitachi Seaside Park, located in Hitachinaka City, offers refreshing sea breezes and a wealth of seasonal, colorful floral displays year-round. The park includes a 'Pleasure Garden' with 25+ attractions, forested athletic fields, and BBQ areas, providing diverse enjoyment.
In early October, approximately 32,000 kochia plants create a stunning gradient of red on the hillside, attracting visitors from all over. This park symbolizes Ibaraki's natural beauty and hosts events throughout the seasons, offering a serene and rejuvenating experience for all visitors.
Kochia in autumn
Blue nemophila in spring
Nature's Spectacle: Fukuroda Falls
Fukuroda Falls, considered one of Japan's Three Famous Waterfalls, boasts an impressive height of around 120 meters and a width of about 73 meters. Its grandeur is best viewed from both the walking paths and an observatory accessed through a tunnel, offering varying angles and heights.
While the fall foliage and winter ice curtains are popular highlights, it is recommended to visit on sunny days after rain for a breathtaking experience due to increased water volume, rendering voices inaudible. The falls' multiple perspectives, including the 'Lover's Sanctuary' for romantic moments and a suspension bridge during the fresh green season, provide diverse attractions throughout the year.
A Natural Gem Carved by Time: Hananuki Gorge
Hananuki Gorge in Takahagi, carved by the Hananuki River, is a unique natural environment where tropical and temperate plants harmonize. It's famed for its brilliant autumn foliage, especially near the Shiomidaki Suspension Bridge, and offers the rare sight of the sea from the dam.
This geopark is a must-see destination, with a peak foliage season in mid to late November and small waterfalls creating picturesque scenery. It is the perfect place to explore the blend of tropical and temperate flora as you revel in the changing seasons and admire geological wonders.
Where Healing Waters and Serenity Meet: Isohara Onsen
Isohara Onsen, situated on the Isohara Coast, is renowned for its therapeutic chloride hot springs, effective for issues like cold sensitivity, rheumatism, and high blood pressure. Nearby, you can discover sightseeing attractions like "Futatsushima" and "Rokkakudo," offering a perfect post-exploration relaxation. This onsen destination provides unique seaside sulfur springs and ryokans offering seafront experiences and top-rated breakfasts in Ibaraki.
Ibaraki's winter specialty is "anglerfish hot pot" or "anko-nabe," featuring the prized anglerfish liver, often called the "foie gras of the sea." Unlike most fish, anglerfish offers not only its liver but also other edible parts like gills and skin. The city of Oarai is especially known for this dish, with some places serving "dobu-jiru," seasoned with liver and miso.
This special dish is known for its rich flavour resulting from melting the anglerfish liver into the broth, making it a cherished Ibaraki winter tradition.
Ibaraki is renowned for its significant natto production, a fermented soybean dish appreciated for its health benefits and unique flavour. Locals have a deep affection for natto, and the prefecture stands as one of Japan's leading producers and consumers of this delicacy. In Ibaraki, you can discover both packaged natto and the traditional "waratsuto natto" wrapped in straw. The prefecture holds the 9th position in soybean production across the country.
The history of natto in Ibaraki goes back to times when the Naka River caused frequent typhoon-related flooding due to inadequate flood control measures. To address this, early-maturing soybeans were cultivated for harvest before typhoons, despite their small size. These soybeans, while unsuitable for making tofu or miso, turned out to be perfect for natto.
During the Meiji era, in the 1890s, the establishment of the Joban Line railway marked a significant development for the natto industry in Ibaraki. Natto produced within the prefecture began to be sold at Mito Station, initially in the plaza in front of the station.
Over time, it extended to the station's platforms, becoming an extremely popular souvenir.
This small-grained natto variety, later to be known as 'mito natto,' gained nationwide recognition for its remarkable compatibility with rice. It is celebrated for its characteristics, including its ability to adhere well to rice, unique texture, threadiness, and rich flavour, making it a representative variety of small-grained soybeans in Ibaraki.
Natto, renowned for its unique flavour and aroma, has long been a staple in Japanese cuisine for centuries. It has gained global recognition and popularity as a superfood due to its impressive nutritional and health benefits, such as improving gut health, cardiovascular well-being, and overall health. At Mogami, we recommend incorporating fermented foods such as natto into your diet, as it can increase your gut health, a key to your long-term well-being.
Ibaraki traditional crafts
”Yuki Tsumugi,""Kasama Yaki," and "Makabe Stone Lanterns," are some examples of local traditional crafts that have been cherished by locals for a long time. Over time, as they were used and appreciated, improvements were made, enhancing their overall quality. This process involved the trial and error of various techniques and methods by many craftsmen, as well as the transmission of masterful skills.
Yuki Tsumugi, produced in the region spanning Yuki City in Ibaraki Prefecture and Oyama City in Tochigi Prefecture, boasts a history of over 2,000 years, originating from the ancient fabric 'Nagahatabe no Ashiginu.' This craft is celebrated for its handwoven silk fabric, meticulously hand-spun from real silk and woven on traditional wooden looms.
Today, Yuki Tsumugi has earned prestigious designations as an Important Intangible Cultural Property and a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. It remains a symbol of cultural and historical significance. Production adheres to stringent criteria, including the use of hand-spun silk yarn, traditional loom weaving, and hand-tying for kasuri patterns, preserving the craft's authenticity and ensuring high-quality, durable textiles.
The fabric is characterized by its soft and lightweight feel while offering warmth. It is not limited to traditional kimonos but is also used to create various products such as business card holders, wallets, bags, ties, and more.
Kasama Yaki, a traditional craft mainly crafted in Kasama City, is celebrated for its durability and user-friendly characteristics, often seen in the distinct features of newer pieces.
The origins of Kasama Yaki date back to the 18th century when a man named Kyuno Hanyuemon Michinobu invited potters from Omi (present-day Shiga Prefecture) to start crafting pottery. Due to its proximity to Edo (modern-day Tokyo), mass production was undertaken, and the scale of production expanded.
Contemporary Kasama Yaki is defined by the diverse artisans who create innovative products freely. Additionally, the finished products exhibit high strength, making them durable and easy to use.
Yuki Tsumugi and Kasama-yaki craftsmen & local businesses based in Ibaraki
At Mogami, we value the beauty of Japanese craftsmanship and like to shed light on local businesses that continue to practise these traditions with thoughtfulness and intention.
A few of our highlights of Yuki Tsumugi and Kasama-yaki Craftsmen & local businesses based in Ibaraki
Yuki Tsumugi Museum - operated by the Yuki Tsumugi wholesaler 'Okujun.' Featuring a shop for Tsumugi accessories and shawls, along with an exhibition showcasing over 200 Yuki Tsumugi items. @tsumuginoyakata
Keicondo - Kasama-yaki potter based in Kasama City. @keicondo
Kirara-kan - Pottery store based in Kasama City with approximately 10,000 items by over 700 ceramic artists. @kilakan
With its rich cultural heritage and stunning landscapes, Ibaraki Prefecture promises a memorable journey through Japan's history and natural wonders. Whether you're exploring the spiritual Mount Tsukuba, or indulging in local delicacies, Ibaraki is certain to leave a lasting impression on your heart and soul.
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We are thrilled to have you continue to join us on a journey of discovery and immerse yourself in Japan's vibrant yet harmonious culture.
Stay tuned for our next destination! 👋🏻