Famed for the Kairaku-en garden, Mito is a former castle town along the banks of the Sakuragawa River. In addition to its historic castle ruins, it’s home to a 19th-century samurai school and a cutting-edge modern art complex designed like a helix.
Things to do in Mito
Experience one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan at Kairaku-en, renowned for being home to more than 3,000 plum trees. It was created in 1841 by Tokugawa Nariaki as a garden for the people and features an atmospheric bamboo grove and the beautifully painted Kobuntei samurai residence, which offers scenic views of Senba Lake.
See where the sons of prominent samurai were once educated at the Kōdōkan, which was the largest Han school in Edo-era Japan. Wander through the Heritage-listed wooden buildings, such as the Main Hall and the Hall of Supreme Good, while learning about their education in Confucian studies, astronomy, medicine and martial arts.
Learn about the historical events and people who have shaped Mito while exploring the remains of the city’s 12th-century castle that stands opposite the Kōdōkan. Enter through the Yakuimon Gate into the moat-surrounded castle grounds where modern-day schools have been built with walls reminiscent of the original castle.
Admire the striking modern architecture of the Art Tower Mito, designed by Arata Isozaki and inspired by the Boerdijk–Coxeter helix. This landmark complex includes a concert hall and theatre, as well as a contemporary art gallery showcasing emerging artists and themed exhibitions.
Getting around Mito
Mito is around two hours by train from Tokyo and Haneda International Airport or 40 minutes’ drive from Ibaraki Airport. Buses travel throughout Mito, which is also easy to explore by bicycle.