The Hitachi Seaside Park is a huge park in Mito that is often overlooked because of Kairakuen. Kairakuen is one of the top 3 gardens in Japan but Hitachi Seaside Park is not on any list. This makes it a park that is relatively not very popular, and depending on the season, it is not worth a visit. If you do visit, be sure to go during the peak flower season, which changes depending on what flowers you wish to see.
Getting to Hitachi Seaside Park is pretty easy. From Tokyo, take the Hitachi or Tokiwa express trains to Katsuta Station. From there it is a simple bus ride to the West Entrance. You can continue on to the South Entrance but there really isn’t any point. At Katsuta Station, just head to the east side and follow the signs to the bus stops. The bus departs from Bus Stop 2 in front of the Lawson’s.
Hitachi Seaside Park can be split into 7 areas. In reality, there are only 3 areas of interest for most people, especially if you are a tourist. The most famous area is the Miharashi Hill. It is a steep hill that is full of flowers. From April to May, blue Nemophila bloom turning the entire hill a vibrant blue. From the photos I have seen it is gorgeous and well worth a trip. These are replaced with Kochia which stay green until October when they turn a vibrant red. I visited just after the peak season for Kochia so it wasn’t as wonderful as it was a few weeks before I visited.
No visit can ignore the Miharashi Hill, even if the flowers are not in bloom. It may not be as beautiful but the views are worth a hike. You can enjoy the entire seafront as well as the view of the entire park. It may be a bit busy to enjoy the peace but you can definitely enjoy the views. Do note that they have a nice bell near the top and everyone loves to ring it. I would prefer no bell so that I could enjoy the sounds of nature.
The other major area that I was interested in was the Sand Dune area. I had images of the Tottori Sand Dunes but this was far from the truth. I ventured into the Dune Garden area and it was devoid of life. It is probably because there were no events but it felt like a ghost town. There was a gravel garden with various types of gravel rocks and a small kiln for baking sand into various objects. The best part was the coast where you can walk along a sand path in the gardens. It wasn’t really interesting and not something that I plan to visit again but I was happy to just see it.
Within the Sand Dune area is the Kaori no Tani, or the Herb Garden. When I visited, it was too late to enjoy the fragrant herbs and I just went up a small hill and that was it. The best time to visit this area is from March to October, so November was a bad time to visit.
I then ventured to the South Entrance Area by accident. I intended to skip it but since I was a bit lost I decided to take a quick look. It really isn’t interesting and you can easily skip it. The only thing I found to be of interest was the gate itself. It was designed like an old red brick gate but it wasn’t really that interesting in the end. The only other thing to see is the row of trees that line a path that leads to the Pleasure Garden area.
The Pleasure Garden area is a place I wanted to see. After seeing it on Kaori’s blog, I was really interested to see the Omoshiro Tube. It is basically a long orange tube where you can play. It is definitely fun for kids of all ages as I saw really young kids just exploring and also a bunch of teens/university kids literally screaming their heads off as they ran around the tube chasing each other. I had fun trying to get through things and feeling as if I was 5 again.
The rest of the Pleasure Garden area was just an amusement park area. There is a small roller coaster, various amusement rides, and even a game area. I was not really into the area as the screaming kids are definitely not my thing. I really wanted to get through there quickly and thankfully at the other end they had some food trucks with beer and a place to take a quick break.
The West Entrance area was really nice but not something people will spend time in. The gate itself is pretty interesting as it has a modern art feel to it. Once you get inside there is a huge fountain in the middle. It is pretty grand and it makes you wonder if that is why the admission to the park is so high. You also have a few flower gardens in the area but I skipped most of them because I figured they were out of season.
The last area you can visit, but I skipped, is the Forest area. I believe it is nothing too special but if you enjoy a walk in the forest it would be well worth your time. Because I didn’t have that much time to enjoy the forest I had to skip it. If I was there for an entire day I would have no problems walking around but you do need a lot of energy to enjoy the park completely.
Hitachi Seaside Park is a great place and no doubt my experience would have been a lot better had I visited when the flowers were in season. I didn’t really have a chance to do so but I still enjoyed the park. It was nice to just relax and enjoy nature. I really wish I had more time but when visiting from Tokyo it is pretty hard for me to wake up so early. Thankfully I’m sure I’ll have more opportunities to visit again and will probably be back soon enough.