Situated amidst the lush plains of Ibaraki Prefecture, Tsukuba stands as a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation, countryside charm and technological prowess. Often called the “Science City” due to its renowned Tsukuba Science City complex, this fascinating city has over the years transformed into a significant hub for education, research, and innovation. Yet, it still maintains the allure of Japan’s rich history and culture. A visit to Tsukuba offers travelers a unique experience, interweaving the threads of the past and the future into a vibrant tapestry.
Tsukuba is strategically located to the northeast of Tokyo, making it easily accessible for those traveling from the capital. Encircled by the majestic Tsukuba Mountain Range, the city offers spectacular scenic vistas. The twin peaks of Mount Tsukuba – Nyotai-san and Nantai-san – are especially iconic, often referred to as the “Purple Mountain” owing to the unique hue they take on during sunset.
Though today it might be synonymous with modern science and research, Tsukuba’s roots stretch deep into Japan’s history. The ancient shrines and historical sites dotting the city tell tales of its significance in the annals of Japanese folklore and mythology. The Tsukuba Shrine, for instance, is a testament to the city’s spiritual heritage, dedicated to the deities of the twin peaks.
Modern Day Significance
The late 20th century marked a turning point for Tsukuba, with the establishment of the Tsukuba Science City. Home to over 300 research institutions and numerous international conferences, the city quickly rose to prominence as Japan’s hub for scientific research. The sprawling University of Tsukuba further cements the city’s status as a seat of learning.
Amidst its technological advancements, Tsukuba remains a city deeply entrenched in its cultural mores. The Tsukuba Festival, held annually, showcases traditional performances, music, and food, offering visitors a slice of authentic Japanese festivity. Moreover, the Tsukuba Mountain Festival is a must-visit for those keen on experiencing the spiritual aspect of the region, coupled with the breathtaking natural beauty.
Beyond its urbanized zones, Tsukuba brims with natural wonders. The serene Lake Kasumigaura, the second-largest lake in Japan, offers pristine waterside views and activities. Meanwhile, the Tsukuba Botanical Garden is a haven for nature enthusiasts, hosting a vast collection of plant species from around the globe.
Tsukuba’s culinary scene is an enticing mix of traditional and modern flavors. From steaming bowls of ramen to the freshest sushi, the city’s eateries cater to all palates. Special mention goes to the local specialty, Tsukuba yakitori, which is a must-try for every visitor.
Tsukuba is a city that promises a multifaceted experience. Whether you’re a tech enthusiast keen on exploring the forefront of scientific innovations, a history buff diving deep into Japanese lore, or a nature lover seeking serene landscapes, Tsukuba welcomes you with open arms. Dive deep, explore its many facets, and let Tsukuba’s charm captivate your heart.
Welcome to Tsukuba, where the past meets the future.
Tsukuba City Guide: A Brief History Of Tsukuba, Japan For Visitors
The city of Tsukuba, now a beacon of scientific and technological progress, possesses a layered history that intertwines mythology, spirituality, agricultural progress, and modern-day advancements. Any visitor to Tsukuba would benefit from understanding its multifaceted evolution, as it provides a richer context to the modern city’s attractions and cultural experiences.
Long before its scientific endeavors, Tsukuba was deeply rooted in Japan’s mythology. The legendary Mount Tsukuba, with its twin peaks of Nyotai-san and Nantai-san, is said to have formed around 60 million years ago and features prominently in ancient tales. According to local legends, the deity Izanagi, who played a pivotal role in creating the Japanese archipelago, and his partner Izanami, once resided on this very mountain.
Ancient Spiritual Importance
Over centuries, Mount Tsukuba became a spiritual magnet, attracting pilgrims and seekers. The revered Tsukuba Shrine, situated at the mountain’s base, is said to be over 3000 years old. Dedicated to the deities of the twin peaks, it’s a monument to the city’s spiritual heritage, symbolizing fertility, matrimonial harmony, and well-being. Pilgrims from all over Japan have, for millennia, climbed its sacred slopes seeking blessings and enlightenment.
For much of its history, Tsukuba thrived primarily as an agricultural region. With its fertile plains, the city was an abundant producer of grains, especially rice. By the Edo Period (1603-1868), Tsukuba had developed efficient irrigation systems, becoming an essential rice-producing region feeding the nearby metropolis of Tokyo.
From Farms to Labs: The Birth of Tsukuba Science City
The 20th century marked a transformative era for Tsukuba. In the 1960s, with Japan seeking to establish a base for research and development away from the crowded cities, Tsukuba was chosen as the ideal location. Thus, began the city’s rapid metamorphosis into what would come to be known as the Tsukuba Science City.
Inaugurated in the 1970s, this state-of-the-art hub was designed to promote interdisciplinary research. With over 300 research institutions, including national labs and corporate research centers, Tsukuba Science City became the heartbeat of Japan’s scientific progress, propelling the nation to the forefront of global technology and innovation.
University of Tsukuba: Merging Tradition with Modernity
Complementing the research facilities is the University of Tsukuba, a renowned institution that traces its origins to the Tokyo Higher Normal School established in 1872. Relocated to Tsukuba in 1973, the university today stands as a testament to the city’s commitment to academia, having produced numerous Nobel laureates and eminent researchers.
Cultural Evolution Amidst Technological Advancements
Despite its rapid modernization, Tsukuba has never lost sight of its cultural and spiritual roots. Festivals like the Tsukuba Festival and Tsukuba Mountain Festival celebrate the city’s deep historical ties, juxtaposing traditional performances with modern festivities, encapsulating the city’s unique blend of the past and present.
For visitors to Tsukuba, the city offers a journey through time – from ancient myths and spiritual quests to rice paddies and cutting-edge labs. Every corner of Tsukuba whispers tales of its rich history, making it not just a destination for the scientifically curious but also for those passionate about culture and history. As you walk its streets, climb its mountains, or explore its labs, remember: In Tsukuba, every stone and every leaf has a story to tell.
source: Top Tourist Places on YouTube
Top 33 Things To Do in Tsukuba, Japan For Visitors
Here is a list of 33 of the top things to do in Tsukuba:
1. Climb Mount Tsukuba: With its twin peaks, Nyotai-san and Nantai-san, this is an accessible and rewarding hike offering panoramic views of the Kanto Plain.
2. Visit Tsukuba Shrine: Delve into spirituality and tradition at this ancient shrine, dedicated to the deities of Mount Tsukuba.
3. Explore Tsukuba Space Center: Get a close look at Japan’s space exploration programs, complete with life-sized rocket replicas and interactive exhibits.
4. Relax at Tsukuba Botanical Garden: Marvel at diverse plant species from across the world in beautifully themed sections.
5. Attend Tsukuba Festival: Experience Tsukuba’s cultural extravaganza with performances, parades, and local food.
6. Indulge in Tsukuba Yakitori: Relish this local delicacy at various eateries, characterized by its succulent skewered meats.
7. Visit Cyberdyne Studio: Witness cutting-edge robotics and cybernetic technology.
8. Cycle around Lake Kasumigaura: Revel in the scenic beauty as you pedal around Japan’s second-largest lake.
9. Tsukuba Expo Center: Engage with interactive science exhibits and marvel at one of the world’s largest planetariums.
10. Tsukuba Science Tour: Visit several research institutions to learn about the latest advancements and innovations.
11. Experience Tsukuba Mountain Festival: Join locals in their spiritual journey up Mount Tsukuba, accompanied by traditional rituals.
12. Attend a lecture at University of Tsukuba: Enhance your knowledge by attending one of the many public lectures or workshops.
13. Soak in Tsukuba Onsens: After a long day, relax in one of the many natural hot springs in and around Tsukuba.
14. Tsukuba Museum of Art: Delight in both traditional and contemporary artworks, including pieces by local artists.
15. Geology Museum: Understand the Earth’s history through diverse rock samples, fossils, and informative displays.
16. Night walk at Mount Tsukuba: Experience the ethereal beauty of the mountain bathed in moonlight.
17. Visit Tsukuba Peony Garden: Especially recommended during blooming season, it’s a colorful paradise for flower enthusiasts.
18. Attend the Tsukuba Circuit Races: For motorsport enthusiasts, catch a race or even take a driving course.
19. Tsukuba Craft Beer: Taste local brews and understand the art of Japanese craft beer production.
20. Arakawa Tarouemon Pottery Workshop: Get hands-on experience in traditional Japanese pottery.
21. Explore Tsukuba Wanwan Land: A perfect spot for families, interact with a variety of dogs and enjoy outdoor activities.
22. Stroll in Doho Park: An urban oasis, complete with a beautiful pond, walking trails, and cherry blossoms in spring.
23. Savor Tsukuba’s Ramen: Dive into the local ramen culture at various specialty restaurants.
24. Tsukuba Orchid Garden: Wander amidst thousands of orchid varieties, blooming in a mesmerizing array of colors.
25. Go Paragliding: The wind conditions in Tsukuba are conducive for beginners and professionals alike.
26. Attend Tsukuba Film Festival: Celebrate global cinema and attend workshops by prominent filmmakers.
27. Learn at Fusion Science Museum: Interactive displays and experiments make science fun for all ages.
28. Shop at Tsukuba Creo Square: A blend of retail, entertainment, and dining options for a complete day out.
29. Chateau Kamiya Winery: Taste and learn about local Japanese wines amidst historical architecture.
30. Tsukuba Robotic Center: Interact with humanoid robots and delve into the future of robotics.
31. Visit the Ibaraki Nature Museum: Understand the region’s biodiversity through interactive exhibits and a beautiful park.
32. Tsukuba Circuit Go-Karting: Experience the thrill of racing on a professional track.
Tsukuba offers a compelling blend of nature, culture, history, and future-forward attractions. Whether you’re into tranquil gardens, adrenaline-rushing activities, spiritual endeavors, or technological marvels, Tsukuba promises a diverse array of experiences for every traveler.
source: 5 AM Ramen on YouTube
What To Eat and Drink in Tsukuba, Japan
Tsukuba, being a modern city with deep traditional roots, offers an enticing culinary palette that ranges from age-old Japanese delicacies to contemporary fusion dishes. The presence of a vast research community, international students, and expatriates also contributes to its diverse gastronomy. Here’s a detailed guide for every foodie visiting Tsukuba.
- Tsukuba Yakitori: Tsukuba’s take on the popular Japanese skewered meat dish. Grilled over charcoal, these skewers are juicy and flavorful, often served with tare sauce or salt.
- Soba: Buckwheat noodles that are either served cold with a dipping sauce or hot in a savory broth.
- Tempura: Lightly battered and deep-fried vegetables or seafood. Tsukuba offers some unique local variations that you might not find elsewhere.
- Unagi (Eel): Given Tsukuba’s proximity to Lake Kasumigaura, freshwater eel dishes are a must-try. The eel is typically grilled and served over rice with a special sauce.
- Sushi and Sashimi: Freshly caught fish and seafood from the nearby coast, served as sushi rolls or sashimi slices.
Modern and Fusion Foods:
- Ramen: While a staple across Japan, Tsukuba has its unique versions, incorporating local ingredients and flavors into the broth and toppings.
- International Cuisines: Due to its diverse population, Tsukuba boasts a range of international restaurants from Italian pizzerias and pasta places to Indian curry houses and Chinese establishments.
- Bakeries and Patisseries: Influenced by both Japanese and Western styles, you’ll find an array of sweet and savory pastries, bread, and cakes.
- Vegan and Vegetarian Options: With a rise in health consciousness and international residents, several eateries cater to vegan and vegetarian diets.
Local Drinks and Beverages:
- Sake: Tsukuba, being in the Ibaraki Prefecture, has access to some of the finest rice wines or sake. Visit local breweries or bars to sample different grades and flavors.
- Tsukuba Craft Beers: Microbreweries have emerged, offering a variety of craft beers infused with local ingredients.
- Green Tea: Experience a traditional tea ceremony or simply savor the refreshing taste of locally brewed green tea.
- Shochu: A versatile distilled spirit, often enjoyed on the rocks, with water, or as part of cocktails.
- Fruit Liquors: Ibaraki Prefecture is known for its fruit production. In Tsukuba, you can find liquors made from plums (Umeshu), strawberries, and other local fruits.
- Local Cafes: Apart from the conventional coffee, explore Tsukuba cafes that offer matcha lattes, hojicha (roasted green tea) drinks, and other local specialties.
Desserts and Sweet Treats:
- Mochi: These are rice cakes made from glutinous rice, often filled with sweet fillings like red bean paste.
- Dango: Skewered rice dumplings, which can be sweet or savory, are popular street food.
- Taiyaki: Fish-shaped cakes filled with sweet fillings, most commonly red bean paste.
- Matcha Sweets: Owing to Japan’s love for green tea, you’ll find a plethora of desserts infused with matcha, from ice creams to pastries.
- Purin (Japanese custard pudding): A silky, creamy dessert, often caramelized on top, which melts in your mouth.
Tsukuba’s culinary landscape offers a tantalizing journey, mixing the old with the new, the local with the international. Every meal can be an adventure in taste, texture, and tradition. Whether you’re sitting in a time-honored Japanese inn, a buzzing modern cafe, or a street-side stall, Tsukuba promises a gastronomic experience that caters to every palate and preference. So, come with an empty stomach and a curious heart, and let Tsukuba’s food scene delight your senses!
source: LifeofAlyssha on YouTube
Top Restaurants In Tsukuba, Japan
Tsukuba, as a melting pot of cultures and technological advancements, offers an impressive array of dining options that reflect its unique character. Here’s a detailed guide on some of the top eateries you must visit in the city:
- Cuisine: Traditional Japanese
- Highlights: Located in an old, beautiful Japanese house, Miyabi offers an authentic dining experience. With tatami mat seating, guests can enjoy seasonal kaiseki (multi-course) meals. Every dish reflects the region’s seasonal produce and showcases the chef’s meticulous skills.
- Cuisine: Yakitori
- Highlights: Known for its flavorful skewers, this place offers both classic and inventive takes on yakitori. Pair your meal with a cold glass of beer or sake for a complete experience.
- Cuisine: Sushi/Sashimi
- Highlights: With a focus on fresh, local seafood, Matsuya offers an impressive sushi menu. Opt for the omakase, where the chef curates a series of dishes, ensuring guests get the best of what’s available.
Café Veloce Tsukuba
- Cuisine: Café
- Highlights: A cyclist-friendly café, it’s perfect for casual hangouts and offers a diverse menu ranging from coffees and teas to light meals. Their matcha latte is a must-try.
Curry House Coco Ichibanya
- Cuisine: Japanese Curry
- Highlights: This popular chain specializes in Japanese curry dishes, which can be customized according to spice levels and toppings. The rich, hearty curries are perfect for a fulfilling meal.
- Cuisine: Italian
- Highlights: Offering wood-fired pizzas, handmade pasta, and an array of antipasti, this spot brings a slice of Italy to Tsukuba. The ambiance, with its open kitchen, adds to the dining experience.
Indian Restaurant Biryani
- Cuisine: Indian
- Highlights: As the name suggests, it’s famous for its biryanis, but the menu also offers a range of North and South Indian dishes. Vegetarian options are plentiful.
- Cuisine: Izakaya (Japanese Pub)
- Highlights: A favorite among locals, this izakaya offers a cozy atmosphere and an extensive menu that includes sashimi, tempura, and other Japanese delights. Pair dishes with local sake or shochu.
Tsukuba Ramen Street
- Cuisine: Ramen
- Highlights: Not a single restaurant, but an entire street dedicated to Japan’s beloved noodle dish. Each establishment boasts its unique broth, noodle type, and toppings.
Le Petit Lys
- Cuisine: French Patisserie
- Highlights: Indulge in delicate pastries, eclairs, and macarons, capturing the essence of French dessert culture. Their afternoon tea set is a delightful experience.
- Cuisine: Hot Spring Dining
- Highlights: This isn’t just a restaurant but an experience. Located in a hot spring resort, Tousen offers diners the chance to enjoy their meals in a serene environment with views of Mount Tsukuba.
Green Grass Café
- Cuisine: Cafe & Bakery
- Highlights: A perfect spot for breakfast or brunch, the café offers freshly baked goods, sandwiches, and coffee. The serene ambiance with plants adds to its charm.
- Cuisine: Chinese
- Highlights: Offering dishes inspired by Szechuan and Cantonese cuisines, it’s known for its spicy bowls and flavorful stir-fries.
- Cuisine: Grilled Beef Tongue
- Highlights: A specialty restaurant focusing on grilled beef tongue, a delicacy in Japanese cuisine. The meat is seasoned and grilled to perfection, usually enjoyed with rice and soup.
- Cuisine: Bar & Small Bites
- Highlights: An intimate bar offering an impressive range of cocktails, whiskies, and wines. The bar snacks, inspired by global and local flavors, are perfectly crafted to accompany the drinks.
Tsukuba’s dining scene is a testament to its blend of tradition and modernity, local flavors, and global inspirations. Each restaurant in this list offers not just food, but a unique experience – be it in the form of ambiance, culinary techniques, or the stories behind the dishes. When in Tsukuba, embark on a culinary journey that promises to tantalize your taste buds and enrich your soul.
source: Tina Huegen on YouTube
Tours For Visitors To Tsukuba, Japan
Tsukuba, often termed the “Science City” of Japan, has much more than just research institutes and technological marvels to offer. To truly experience Tsukuba’s unique blend of nature, tradition, and science, a guided tour can be invaluable. Here are some of the top tours you can embark on:
Tsukuba Science Tour
- Description: Venture into the heart of Tsukuba’s technological world. This tour provides an inside look into research institutes, laboratories, and high-tech companies.
- Highlights: Visits to Tsukuba Space Center, research demonstrations, interactions with scientists, and glimpses of cutting-edge technologies.
- Duration: Full-day.
Mount Tsukuba Hiking Tour
- Description: Experience nature firsthand by hiking up Tsukuba’s revered twin peaks.
- Highlights: Panoramic views from the summit, Nantai and Nyotai Shrine visits, and the chance to enjoy local onsen (hot springs) post-hike.
- Duration: Half-day to Full-day, depending on trail and pace.
Tsukuba Culinary Tour
- Description: Dive into the rich gastronomy of Tsukuba.
- Highlights: Sampling local delicacies, visiting traditional eateries, understanding the art of sake brewing, and hands-on sushi-making classes.
- Duration: Half-day.
Cycling Tour Around Lake Kasumigaura
- Description: Explore the second-largest lake in Japan on two wheels.
- Highlights: Breathtaking lakeside views, local villages, and stops at local eateries serving eel and other lake specialties.
- Duration: Full-day.
Tsukuba Heritage and Cultural Tour
- Description: Experience the age-old traditions, shrines, and temples of Tsukuba.
- Highlights: Visits to historic sites such as Tsukuba Shrine, learning about the history of the region, and witnessing traditional crafts and performances.
- Duration: Half-day.
Nightlife and Entertainment Tour
- Description: Explore Tsukuba after dark.
- Highlights: Visiting local izakayas (Japanese pubs), bars, karaoke joints, and entertainment districts. Get a taste of Tsukuba’s nightlife and mingle with locals.
- Duration: Evening.
Tsukuba Botanical Garden Tour
- Description: Stroll through lush landscapes and discover diverse plant species.
- Highlights: Guided walk, greenhouse explorations, and seasonal flower displays.
- Duration: Half-day.
Agricultural and Farm Experience Tour
- Description: Experience rural life in the outskirts of Tsukuba.
- Highlights: Hands-on farming activities, picking fresh fruits and vegetables, and understanding the agricultural practices of the region.
- Duration: Half-day to Full-day.
Art and Craft Workshop Tour
- Description: Delve into Tsukuba’s art scene.
- Highlights: Workshops on traditional crafts such as pottery and calligraphy, visits to art galleries, and interactions with local artisans.
- Duration: Half-day.
Tsukuba University Campus Tour
- Description: Explore one of Japan’s leading research universities.
- Highlights: University landmarks, research facilities, interactions with students, and a glimpse into campus life.
- Duration: Half-day.
Onsen Experience Tour
- Description: Relax and rejuvenate in Tsukuba’s natural hot springs.
- Highlights: Different types of onsens, traditional ryokan stays, and the health benefits of Japanese spa culture.
- Duration: Flexible, can be an evening or combined with an overnight stay.
Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a tech geek, a history buff, or a culinary explorer, Tsukuba has a tailored tour to offer. Each tour immerses visitors in a unique aspect of the city, providing a comprehensive understanding of its essence. Guided by local experts, these tours ensure that travelers get the most authentic and enriching experience of Tsukuba. So, pack your bags, wear comfortable shoes, and get ready to explore the multifaceted charm of Tsukuba!
Tsukuba Accommodations Guide: Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels
Tsukuba is a city that caters to a diverse range of travelers. Whether you’re a researcher attending a conference, a backpacker exploring Japan, or a family on a holiday, Tsukuba offers accommodations to fit every budget and preference. Here’s a detailed guide:
Daiwa Roynet Hotel Tsukuba
- Overview: A modern hotel with upscale amenities and services.
- Facilities: Free Wi-Fi, meeting rooms, on-site restaurant, and a fitness center.
- Unique Selling Point: Proximity to the Tsukuba Express Station and shopping areas.
Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba Epochal
- Overview: Located in the heart of the city, this is a favored choice for business travelers.
- Facilities: Conference facilities, multiple dining options, spa, and fitness center.
- Unique Selling Point: It’s directly connected to Tsukuba International Congress Center.
Hotel Route-Inn Tsukuba
- Overview: A comfortable hotel offering good value for money.
- Facilities: Free Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast, restaurant, and public bath.
- Unique Selling Point: Its strategic location near attractions and eateries.
Tsukuba Daily Inn
- Overview: A business hotel with a cozy ambiance.
- Facilities: Free Wi-Fi, on-site restaurant, and laundry services.
- Unique Selling Point: Close to major business hubs and a short walk from the Tsukuba Center.
Budget Hotels & Guesthouses
Hotel Tsukuba Hills Umezono
- Overview: A budget-friendly option without compromising on essential comforts.
- Facilities: Free Wi-Fi, breakfast service, and in-room refrigerators.
- Unique Selling Point: Offers easy access to Tsukuba University and the surrounding areas.
Tsukuba Guest House
- Overview: A homely guesthouse providing a personal touch to your stay.
- Facilities: Shared kitchen, lounge, and free Wi-Fi.
- Unique Selling Point: Engage with other travelers and locals in a communal setting.
Tsukuba Sky Hotel
- Overview: A simple, clean, and affordable hostel, ideal for backpackers.
- Facilities: Shared kitchen, communal lounge, lockers, and free Wi-Fi.
- Unique Selling Point: Offers both mixed and female-only dormitories for travelers’ convenience.
K’s House Ibaraki
- Overview: Part of the renowned K’s House chain, known for its hospitality and warmth.
- Facilities: Shared kitchen, free Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, and a cozy common room.
- Unique Selling Point: It often hosts events where guests can mingle and share their travel stories.
Tsukuba Onsen Ryokan
- Overview: Experience authentic Japanese hospitality in this traditional inn.
- Facilities: On-site onsen (hot spring), traditional tatami rooms, and kaiseki meals.
- Unique Selling Point: Immerse in the age-old customs of Japan, from sleeping on futons to donning yukatas.
Tips for Choosing Accommodation in Tsukuba:
- Location: Depending on your itinerary, select an accommodation close to the attractions or business centers you’ll frequent.
- Facilities: If you’re on a business trip, you might need hotels with conference rooms and business centers. Leisure travelers might prefer places with recreational facilities or proximity to attractions.
- Budget: Tsukuba offers a range of accommodations, from luxury to budget. Determine your budget in advance to narrow down choices.
- Reviews: Before finalizing, it’s wise to check guest reviews on platforms like TripAdvisor or Booking.com to get a better understanding of the quality of service.
Tsukuba is a city that merges the traditional with the modern. Similarly, its accommodation options range from traditional ryokans with onsen baths to contemporary hotels with all modern amenities. Whatever your preference or budget, Tsukuba is ready to welcome you with its characteristic warmth and hospitality.
source: Life In Japan on YouTube
Tsukuba 3-4 Days Travel Itinerary
Day 1: Dive into the World of Science
- Tsukuba Space Center: Begin your journey with a visit to this space research facility. Here, get an insider’s view of the development of satellites, rockets, and space explorations led by JAXA, Japan’s space agency. Don’t forget to check out the life-size replicas of space modules.
- Cyberdyne Studio: Visit this intriguing studio that showcases the futuristic technologies of Cyberdyne, especially the HAL robot suit.
- Lunch at Curry House Coco Ichibanya: Relish Japanese curry, which you can customize according to your taste.
- Tsukuba Expo Center: Witness planetarium shows and interactive science exhibits. The center’s giant Ferris wheel offers a panoramic view of the city.
- Dinner at Yakitori Daikichi: End your day with delectable skewers and a glass of local sake.
Day 2: Embrace Nature and Culture
- Mount Tsukuba: Start early and hike up the iconic twin-peaked mountain. The trails are well-marked, leading you through lush forests to the summits, from where you can admire breathtaking vistas.
- Tsukuba Shrine: After descending the mountain, visit this ancient Shinto shrine nestled at the foot of Mount Tsukuba. It’s a serene spot steeped in legends and myths.
- Lunch at Matsuya Tsukuba: Relish fresh sushi and sashimi in this traditional setting.
- Lake Kasumigaura: Relax by Japan’s second-largest lake. Opt for a serene boat ride and capture the sunset hues reflecting on the lake’s surface.
- Dinner at Mokichi Trattoria: Indulge in Italian flavors with wood-fired pizzas and handmade pasta.
Day 3: Art, Botany, and Nightlife
- Tsukuba Botanical Garden: Wander through this vast garden, witnessing diverse plant species, from tropical rainforest flora to alpine vegetation.
- Art and Craft Workshop: Engage in a hands-on activity, be it pottery, calligraphy, or traditional Japanese painting.
- Lunch at Green Grass Café: Relish freshly baked goods and light meals in a serene ambiance.
- Nightlife and Entertainment Tour: Explore the vibrant nightlife of Tsukuba, hopping from izakayas to bars. Sing your heart out in a karaoke booth and mingle with the locals.
- Dinner at Gyutan Tsukasa: Experience the flavors of grilled beef tongue, a regional specialty.
Day 4: Relax and Shop
- Onsen Experience: Start your day with a rejuvenating dip in one of Tsukuba’s traditional onsens. The therapeutic waters are sure to relax your body and soul.
- Tsukuba Creo Square: Dive into a shopping spree at this vast mall. Besides shopping, you can enjoy bowling, cinema, and various entertainment options.
- Lunch at Le Petit Lys: Experience the best of French patisserie, right from pastries to macarons.
- Tsukuba Ramen Street: As a fitting conclusion, explore this haven for ramen lovers. Sample different broths, noodles, and toppings to find your favorite bowl.
- Farewell Drink at Bar Rhythm: Sip on crafted cocktails or select from a range of whiskies, reminiscing about your Tsukuba journey.
- Ensure you wear comfortable shoes, as there’ll be a lot of walking.
- Tsukuba is well-connected with buses and trains. However, renting a bike is a great way to explore the city at your own pace.
- Check the operational days and timings of attractions in advance.
Tsukuba offers an ideal mix of technological marvels, natural beauty, cultural insights, and culinary delights. This itinerary ensures that in 3-4 days, you get a comprehensive taste of what this unique city has to offer. Safe travels!
source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube
Where To Visit After Your Trip To Tsukuba?
After exploring the scientific marvels and natural beauty of Tsukuba, you might be pondering your next stop in Japan. Here are some recommended destinations based on their proximity, unique features, and contrast with what Tsukuba offers.
Distance from Tsukuba: Approximately 60 km.
Overview: The bustling capital city of Japan, Tokyo is a megalopolis that seamlessly blends the ultra-modern with the deeply traditional.
- Shinjuku & Shibuya: Witness the famous Shibuya crossing and explore the shopping streets of Shinjuku.
- Asakusa: Visit the historic Senso-ji Temple and Nakamise shopping street.
- Odaiba: A futuristic entertainment hub with attractions like the Unicorn Gundam statue, teamLab Borderless, and Palette Town.
- Tsukiji Outer Market: Taste fresh seafood and sushi.
- Akihabara: A haven for electronics and anime lovers.
source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube
Distance from Tsukuba: Approximately 120 km.
Overview: Known for its historically significant temples and beautiful national parks, Nikko is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Toshogu Shrine: Japan’s most lavishly decorated shrine and mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu.
- Kegon Falls: One of Japan’s highest and most beautiful waterfalls.
- Lake Chuzenji: A scenic lake in the mountains above Nikko.
- Ryuzu Waterfall: Especially beautiful in the autumn when the surrounding trees boast vibrant colors.
Distance from Tsukuba: Approximately 180 km.
Overview: Hakone is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and is famous for its hot springs, outdoor activities, and views of Mount Fuji.
- Hakone Onsen: Experience traditional Japanese hot spring baths.
- Lake Ashinoko: Take a pirate ship cruise and admire the view of Mount Fuji.
- Hakone Open-Air Museum: Features sculptures and artworks in an open setting.
- Hakone Shrine: A beautiful shrine located by the lake, known for its large red torii gate.
Distance from Tsukuba: Approximately 100 km.
Overview: Japan’s second-largest city, it boasts a beautiful harbor, rich history, and a mix of Japanese and foreign cultures.
- Minato Mirai: A futuristic cityscape with shopping, entertainment, and the Landmark Tower.
- Chinatown: The largest Chinatown in Japan, brimming with delicious cuisine and colorful streets.
- Sankeien Garden: A traditional Japanese garden with historical buildings.
- Yokohama Ramen Museum: Dive into the history of ramen and sample various regional flavors.
Distance from Tsukuba: Approximately 125 km.
Overview: Often referred to as the “Kyoto of Eastern Japan,” Kamakura is home to numerous shrines, temples, and a giant Buddha statue.
- Kotoku-in Temple: See the iconic Great Buddha of Kamakura.
- Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine: The most important shrine in Kamakura.
- Komachi Street: A lively street filled with shops, restaurants, and cafes.
- Enoshima Island: Nearby island known for its shrines, views, and caves.
Distance from Tsukuba: Varies depending on location, but generally nearby as Tsukuba is in Ibaraki Prefecture.
Overview: Ibaraki, often overshadowed by its bustling neighbors, is a coastal gem with serene landscapes, historical sites, and delectable cuisine.
- Hitachi Seaside Park: Visit during different seasons to see the park change its colors – blue nemophila in spring and red kochia in autumn.
- Kairakuen Garden: One of Japan’s top three gardens, especially famous for its plum trees.
- Fukuroda Falls: One of Japan’s three great waterfalls, it freezes in winter, offering a mesmerizing view.
- Mito: The capital city of Ibaraki and home to Kairakuen Garden, it’s also famous for its natto (fermented soybeans).
Distance from Tsukuba: Approximately 90 km.
Overview: Chiba, besides being home to Tokyo Disneyland and Narita Airport, offers a coastal charm, unique attractions, and a laid-back atmosphere.
- Tokyo Disney Resort: A world-renowned theme park that includes Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea.
- Naritasan Shinshoji Temple: A historic temple near Narita Airport.
- Kamogawa Sea World: Marine life showcased through various shows and exhibitions.
- Onjuku Beach: A beautiful beach that offers a perfect escape during the summer months.
Distance from Tsukuba: Approximately 75 km.
Overview: Saitama is a blend of contemporary urban life, historic sites, and natural beauty.
- Railway Museum: Delve into Japan’s history of railways, with hands-on exhibits and actual trains on display.
- Omiya Bonsai Village: A village dedicated to the art of Bonsai, with numerous gardens and a museum.
- Kawagoe: Known as “Little Edo,” it boasts traditional Kurazukuri warehouses and the bell tower, Toki-no-Kane.
- Chichibu: Famous for its festivals, Chichibu also offers scenic train rides through the mountains.
Distance from Tsukuba: Approximately 150 km.
Overview: Nestled in the mountains to the northwest of Tsukuba, Gunma offers a range of outdoor activities and onsen (hot spring) experiences.
- Kusatsu Onsen: One of Japan’s most famous hot spring resorts, where you can enjoy various types of baths and observe the traditional “Yumomi” water cooling method.
- Oze National Park: A stunning highland marshland with picturesque hiking trails.
- Tomioka Silk Mill: Japan’s first silk factory and a UNESCO World Heritage site that narrates the tale of Japan’s silk history.
- Ikaho Onsen: Known for its long stone steps and therapeutic hot spring waters.
Distance from Tsukuba: Approximately 100 km.
Overview: Tochigi is rich in history, nature, and boasts some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes.
- Ashikaga Flower Park: Particularly famous for its massive wisteria trees, the park is a treat for nature lovers, especially in spring.
- Nasu Highland: A region known for its scenic beauty, hot springs, and the Nasu Shiobara resort area.
- Utsunomiya: While this is the capital city of Tochigi, it’s famous nationwide for its gyoza (Japanese dumplings).
- Mashiko: Famous for Mashiko-yaki, a type of pottery, it’s a delight for those interested in traditional crafts.
Distance from Tsukuba: Approximately 130 km.
Overview: Located to the south of Tokyo, Kanagawa offers a mix of urban attractions, beaches, and historical sites.
- Yokosuka: With its American naval base, it offers a blend of Japanese and American cultures. The Curry Museum here traces the journey of this beloved dish in Japan.
- Kamakura: Mentioned before, but its plethora of shrines and the Great Buddha statue deserves a repeated mention.
- Hakone: Again, worth reiterating for its beautiful vistas of Mount Fuji, onsen experiences, and the Hakone Shrine.
- Enoshima: An island with shrines, spas, and caves that can be explored during a day trip.
Distance from Tsukuba: Approximately 200 km.
Overview: A region that’s undergone revitalization after the 2011 earthquake and nuclear disaster, Fukushima is a mix of serene landscapes, historical sites, and modern development.
- Aizu-Wakamatsu: Known for Tsuruga Castle, sake breweries, and rich samurai heritage.
- Ouchijuku: A post town that preserves the look of the Edo period with thatched-roof buildings.
- Bandai Plateau: Offers hiking, skiing, and onsen experiences depending on the season. The Goshiki-numa Ponds are a must-visit.
- Iwaki: Besides its modern attractions, it’s home to Spa Resort Hawaiians, a popular onsen-themed amusement park.
Distance from Tsukuba: Approximately 150 km.
Overview: Located in Saitama Prefecture, Chichibu is a picturesque area known for its natural beauty and religious heritage.
- Chichibu Night Festival: Recognized as one of Japan’s top three festivals featuring floats and fireworks.
- Shibazakura Hill: A carpet of pink moss flowers offering breathtaking views during spring.
- Chichibu 34 Kannon Sanctuary: A pilgrimage route that encompasses 34 Buddhist temples.
- Nagatoro: A riverside town popular for river boating through scenic gorges.
Distance from Tsukuba: Approximately 300 km.
Overview: Known for hosting the Winter Olympics in 1998, Nagano offers mountains, hot springs, and historical sites.
- Zenko-ji Temple: One of Japan’s most cherished temples with a history that predates the introduction of Buddhism.
- Snow Monkeys: Visit Jigokudani Monkey Park to witness wild monkeys bathing in natural hot springs.
- Matsumoto Castle: One of Japan’s premier historic castles with a striking black exterior.
- Karuizawa: A posh mountain resort with shopping, nature, and relaxation opportunities.
Distance from Tsukuba: Approximately 220 km.
Overview: Yamanashi, west of Tokyo, offers picturesque landscapes and is the gateway to Mount Fuji.
- Mount Fuji: While the iconic mountain can be viewed from many places, Yamanashi provides some of the best vantage points and climbing routes.
- Fuji Five Lakes: Especially Lake Kawaguchi, offers activities like boating and is a favorite spot for viewing cherry blossoms with Mount Fuji in the background.
- Koshu Wine: Taste the wines of Yamanashi, the leading wine region in Japan.
- Shosenkyo Gorge: Known for its dramatic cliffs, rock formations, and the vibrant colors of autumn foliage.
Distance from Tsukuba: Approximately 350 km.
Overview: Overlooking the Sea of Japan, Niigata is renowned for its delicious rice, rich sake culture, and scenic landscapes.
- Sado Island: Once a place of exile, it’s now a haven for history buffs with its gold mines, traditional performances, and serene beaches.
- Niigata City: A bustling urban hub, known for its modern architecture, port area, and the Niigata City Aquarium.
- Echigo-Yuzawa: A snow paradise in winter, this area is famous for its ski resorts and hot springs. It also inspired the setting for Yasunari Kawabata’s Nobel Prize-winning novel, “Snow Country.”
- Shirone Kite Museum: Celebrating the local tradition of kite flying, visitors can view large Japanese kites and even try flying them.
Distance from Tsukuba: Approximately 400 km.
Overview: Bordered by mountains and the sea, Toyama boasts some of Japan’s most stunning natural attractions.
- Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route: Known as the “Roof of Japan,” this route offers incredible views, particularly the towering snow walls in spring.
- Gokayama: A UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s renowned for its traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses.
- Toyama Glass Art Museum: A testament to modern aesthetics and architecture, the museum showcases stunning glass artworks.
- Kurobe Gorge: Take a scenic train ride through this dramatic gorge, especially beautiful during autumn.
Distance from Tsukuba: Approximately 250 km.
Overview: Situated between Tokyo and Osaka, Shizuoka is another gateway to Mount Fuji and offers a bounty of natural, historical, and culinary experiences.
- Mount Fuji: From the Shizuoka side, you can access the Fujinomiya trailhead.
- Izu Peninsula: Known for its hot springs, coastal cliffs, and beautiful beaches.
- Hamamatsu: Explore the Hamamatsu Castle, enjoy Lake Hamana, and taste the city’s famous gyoza.
- Green Tea Plantations: Shizuoka is Japan’s leading tea producer. Take a tour and indulge in the freshest green tea.
Distance from Tsukuba: Approximately 350 km.
Overview: Located in the Tohoku region, Miyagi is a mix of coastal beauty, urban modernity, and rural charm.
- Sendai: The largest city in the Tohoku region, famous for its beef tongue dishes, vibrant nightlife, and the historic Aoba Castle.
- Matsushima Bay: Known for its scenic beauty and as one of the Three Views of Japan. Explore the bay on a cruise and visit nearby temples and islands.
- Naruko Onsen: A historic hot spring town located in a scenic gorge.
- Cat Island (Tashirojima): A haven for feline lovers, where cats outnumber humans.
- If you’re looking for a varied experience after the science-centric Tsukuba, choose a location that offers a rich cultural, historical, or natural experience.
- Check connectivity. From Tsukuba, places like Tokyo are directly connected via the Tsukuba Express, making the journey hassle-free.
- Ensure you factor in the duration of stay, as each location offers myriad attractions that require varying days to explore fully.
After Tsukuba, you can choose to immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, the cultural depths of Kamakura, or the scenic beauty of Hakone. Each destination, with its unique flavor, ensures your Japanese sojourn remains varied and enriching. Safe travels!
Tsukuba Travel Guide: Final Thoughts
As our journey through Tsukuba and its surrounding regions comes to a close, it’s time to reflect on the remarkable mosaic of experiences this part of Japan has to offer. It’s not just the landmarks or the sumptuous food that makes Tsukuba a coveted destination; it’s the integration of tradition with modernity, nature with technology, and the serenity amidst the bustling academic and research precincts.
A Modern City with Deep Roots:
Tsukuba is emblematic of a city that looks forward while respecting its roots. Its identity as a science city, dotted with world-class institutions and research facilities, stands in harmonious contrast with the spiritual tranquility of Mount Tsukuba. This dual identity makes the city unique, offering a blend of edifying experiences for both the intellectually curious and those in pursuit of spiritual and natural solace.
The gastronomic landscape of Tsukuba is an ode to Japan’s rich culinary heritage. Whether it’s the local delicacies, the refined dishes served in upscale restaurants, or the comfort foods in local izakayas, Tsukuba serves up flavors that cater to every palate. The freshness of the ingredients, combined with the craftsmanship of its chefs, creates a culinary experience that remains etched in memory.
The Charm of Nearby Destinations:
Tsukuba’s location is strategic, making it a gateway to an array of other mesmerizing destinations in Japan. From the ski slopes of Niigata to the historic avenues of Aizu-Wakamatsu, there’s a plethora of experiences waiting just a short journey away. This makes Tsukuba an ideal base for those who wish to explore a broader facet of Japan’s Kanto region and beyond.
No travel guide can be complete without acknowledging the warmth and hospitality of the local people. The residents of Tsukuba, from the shopkeepers to the students, contribute significantly to the city’s welcoming atmosphere. Their politeness, willingness to assist, and genuine interest in sharing their culture with visitors play a pivotal role in making any trip memorable.
Embrace the Seasons:
Tsukuba’s charm is not static; it evolves with the seasons. The cherry blossoms of spring paint the city in shades of pink, the verdant greens of summer resonate with energy, the hues of autumn leaves create a poetic backdrop, and the calmness of winter introduces a serene, contemplative mood. Each visit, depending on the season, offers a different facet of the city to explore.
Tsukuba is more than just a destination; it’s a journey in itself. It’s a place where the mind can be both stimulated and relaxed, where every corner has a story to tell, and every experience, whether big or small, becomes a cherished memory. This guide was an endeavor to introduce you to its multifaceted beauty, but as with any genuine travel experience, Tsukuba’s true essence is best felt in person.
So, whether you’re a first-time visitor or returning for the umpteenth time, let Tsukuba’s allure captivate your spirit, and may your journey be as enriching as the tales that this city whispers in the ears of those who choose to listen. Safe travels, and until next time!
Whispers of Tsukuba: A Journey’s Song
In the heart of Kanto’s embrace,
Where modernity and tradition interlace,
Stands Tsukuba, both mountain and town,
A jewel in Japan’s academic crown.
Between the stretches of verdant green,
The shimmer of cherry blossoms is seen,
And as the seasons gently sway,
Tsukuba beckons travelers to stay.
In streets where past and present meet,
Echoes of footsteps, soft and discreet,
Whisper tales of ancient lore,
Yet hint at the future’s open door.
With sake’s warmth and sushi’s delight,
The city sparkles in the night,
From peak to plaza, dusk to dawn,
A traveler’s dream is gently drawn.
To those who wander and explore,
Tsukuba offers evermore,
A journey, both profound and sweet,
Where soul and science discreetly meet.