Earthquake-damaged garden reopens

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Ibaraki is the ninja prefecture; it is right next to Tokyo but nobody seems to have noticed it. On the rare occasions people are familiar with Ibaraki, it`s usually because of natto, a stinky sticky soy bean concotion that drives diners wild. Loved or hated, usually the latter, eating natto is an obligation for all Ibaraki visitors; as is a visit to Kairakuen garden, in the prefectural capital, Mito.

The name Kairakuen translates as `pleasure garden for everyone`,  it`s ranked as one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan. Damaged by World War Two bombs, a 1970`s lightning strike and now hit badly by the March 11th earthquake, the 170 year old stroll garden has a troubled history. Closed for repairs after the March 11th quake, it`s too popular a place to be kept down for long, and on April 29th,  it reopened.

Last week, I took a one hour train ride on the bullet-lite Super Hitachi from Tokyo`s Ueno station to Mito, my old home town. After meeting some teachers I used to work with, I paid a visit to the garden.

While some sections remain closed off, it`s still a fantastic place to visit. Wandering around the garden`s plum trees and bamboo forest with Japanese tourists, I did some seriously amateur photography, all presented below.

View over Lake Senba.
Kids running about outside old samurai villa, Kobuntei.
I think these are flowers.
Old gate wearing a wig.
Walking through the forest.
Bamboo forest.
Last one, I promise. Plum trees – apparently there are 3,000 of them.

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