The capital city of Ibaraki Prefecture sitting in the northern Kanto region of Japan, Mito is a relatively small town of 270,953 souls hiding out amidst the cherry blossoms slurping noodles. The commercial, economic and cultural hub of the area, Mito's northern section is reminiscent of old Japan from storybooks with its feudal era network of streets awash in historical sites.
Take a walk down the history book pages and check out the Kodokan School from the Edo period that was founded by the ruling clan of that time, as well as the Mito Castle in all its glory. South of the station is where the modern urban landscape intrudes with its elegant shops and restaurants. Cloaked in cherry trees, the Lake Senba and the Sakura-gawa River areas are picture postcard perfect to stroll along.
It is in Mito that you will find 1 of the 3 great gardens of Japan, the Kairaku-en Garden with over 3,000 plum trees of 100 varieties plus masses of azaleas and Japanese bush clover dominating this picturesque garden where the locals come to relax from mums and dads with littlies in tow to grandparents hobbling along the pathways. For the arty or museum buff there is the Ibaraki Museum of Modern Art, the Art Tower Mito and the Ibaraki Prefectural Museum of History to meander through.
If you happen to be in Mito during autumn you will be lucky to see the historical parade of the Mito Han Jidai Festival when portable shrines are carried through the streets by elegantly and colorfully clad bearers in traditional dress. In summer there is the Komon Festival when message fireworks (think over 4,500 go off with a bang) light up the sky and musical instruments reign. Whilst dancers take over the main street with songs of Komon Bayashi and Gokigen Mito-san roaring at the Civic Carnivale annually.
Check out the calendar before you go to make sure that you get to see at least one festival - or hang around the city working, whilst you wait for one to happen.
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