Unravel the mysteries of Ibaraki Prefecture at the equally historic Kairakuen  Garden and Kodokan  Mito Han School.

Unravel the mysteries of Ibaraki Prefecture at the equally historic Kairakuen Garden and Kodokan Mito Han School.

While Ibaraki Prefecture played a vital role in the cultural development of the country, outside Japanese circles it remains relatively unknown. Which is what makes it such an exciting place to explore! And two key spots to consider are Kairakuen and Kodokan. Kairakuen, one of Japan's most famous gardens, was built for feudal families and commoners. On the other end, Kodokan was once revered as an institute of education for the feudal elite and their families. If you're interested in diving a little deeper into the legacy of Ibaraki, Kairakuen and Kodokan are two complementary destinations that'll set you on a path of historical wonder.

Kairakuen was opened in July 1842 under Tokugawa Nariaki, an influential feudal lord who created it for not only ruling families, but for the townspeople too. It's a place of unity, where people could rest and appreciate the seasonal beauty of Ibaraki. Today, the garden is as loved as it's ever been, and is admired for its impressive collection of 3,000 plum trees that paint the grounds in the soft white and pink blossoms of spring. The park also features a mysterious but iconic Japanese-style bamboo grove, and excellent views of scenic Lake Senba. Along with Kenrokuen in Kanazawa and Korakuen in Okayama City, Kairakuen is considered one of Japan's three great gardens.

Kodokan opened a year before Kairakuen as a school for the Mito clan's feudal domains. From the age of 15, feudal warriors and their children would attend to acquire the skills needed to become a powerful member of the feudal class. The school taught military arts, medicine, astronomy, and horseback riding, and Kodokan was specially designed to accommodate those activities. The school shut down in 1872, and the building was repurposed as a regular school and temporary office. But in 1964, the sections of the building were declared a historic national cultural property and remain today a key piece of Ibaraki history.

Kairakuen & Kodokan

Kairakuen & Kodokan

Hop on a train and head two hours north of Tokyo to uncover the mysteries of Ibaraki. From the stunning and serene gardens of Kairakuen to the former elite school of Kodokan, there’s a range of experiences possible for all travelers. Complete your own personalized tour of Tokyo and areas around Tokyo with our model routes!

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