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Japan: Ibaraki (Hitachi Seaside Park)

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Located less than two hours from Tokyo, the 190 hectare Hitachi Seaside Park is an ever changing palette of colors and a year-round destination for both locals and tourists. The park is located in the city of Hitachinaka in Ibaraki Prefecture next to the Ajigaura Beach. Each season, the hill known as Miharashi No Oka, is covered with a different variety of flower, the most popular being the powder blue nemophilas. These annuals bloom during spring (April to mid-May) and number 4.5 million making the park seem as if it were awash in a sea of blue.

In addition to the nemophilas, the park has 170 varieties of tulips and other flowers, a small amusement area, bicycle trails, a family golf area, a barbeque area and various restaurants serving delicious treats.

The 328 foot Ferris wheel known as the Giant Flower Ring Ferris wheel, is the symbol of the park. A complete revolution takes 12 minutes and offers amazing panoramic views of the park and ocean below. The spacious gondolas can accommodate up to six people and when it comes to having fun, the more the merrier!

After taking a spin on the Ferris wheel, hop on the Family Banana Coaster or try your hand at shooting ray guns at the Salamander Legend Shooting ride. The Water Plaza is popular during the hot summer months, where kids can splash around in the Jabu Jabu Ponds, the Tunnel of Water or the Fountain Plaza.

If you get hungry, the park has various options to choose from. You can have a nice sit down meal at the 200-seat resort style restaurant called the Garden Restaurant. The Glass House is a glass enclosed café which serves organic coffee, pasta and snacks and offers breathtaking views of the ocean. You can also elect to grill your own food in the designated barbeque area among the shady pine trees. Grilling equipment can be secured free of charge however, please note that reservations are required 3 months in advance. There are also a number of food stands serving fast food, crepes and snacks. Be sure not to miss the Kuma-san no Castella stand which offers bear shaped bite size castella cakes. You can also find the famous kakigori (shaved ice) Japan is famous for here.

Before you depart the park, stop at one of the gift shops to pick up a nice souvenir. The shops offer a wide range of items, including traditional Kasama ceramic art, local products, original park souvenirs and children’s clothing.

The park is generally closed on Mondays, with a few exceptions. (Check the link provided for hours). Park hours are 9:30 AM -5:00 PM (March 1 – July 20, September 1 – October 31), 9:30 AM – 6:00 PM (July 21 – August 31) and 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM (November 1 – end of February).

You can easily access the park from Tokyo via Ueno Station, the JR Joban Line to Katsuta Station. From there catch the Hitachinaka Seaside train on the Minato Line to Ajigaura Station. The park is only 20 minutes on foot from that point.

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Web page: http://en.hitachikaihin.jp/

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