A Local Perspective on Life in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

Take a Walk on Tsukuba`s Wild Side- with a nature and history walk- this coming Sunday April 23rd

By Avi Landau

One of Tsukuba`s rare and mysterious 17th century Large-Nosed Dainichi Stones. (In Japan there are only about 50 of these- with all of them being in or around Tsukuba City

Tsukuba City  is now known as a center for the development of cutting edge technology, and many who visit here are only familiar with its research institutes, institutions of higher learning, government apartment complexes, new housing developments and shopping malls.

Until about 40 years ago, however, this area consisted of several very old agricultural hamlets set around nearly impassable forest and marshland.

Though the old villages remain, much of ( or should I say most of) the nature in the flatlands of Tsukuba  has been paved over for development, or reigned in, in the form of parks. There still is, however, a relatively large tract of undeveloped wilds which exists within easy walking or cycling distance of the Tsukuba TX Terminal.

A set of Sho-men Kongo stones which were set up at 60 year intervals to commemorate all-night Ko-Shin vigils which were held every sixty days

Just a ten minute bike ride to east of the station ( or  a 20 minute walk), in the area that is now referred to as Nakane Konda-dai ( which runs from the old Sakura City Office north to the village of Kamizakai), wild  fields and  deep forest  provide shelter for a wide array of birds ( some of them very rare), mammals, and other creatures.

Around these wilds ( which can be explored for hours without hitting a road), are fascinating old neighborhoods which are throwbacks to another age- abounding in splendid farmhouses, mysterious sacred stones, rustic shrines and temples, and plenty of evidence of unique local customs and traditions.

An old stone staircase leads up into a thick bamboo grove in Konda`s old Nishi Tsukbo neighborhood

How, you may ask, did this area survive the onslaught of local development?Well, there are two reasons. One is the presence of numerous archaeolgical sites in the area- dating from each of Japan`s major historical periods.When the Science City was being planned, this area was set aside for further excavation and investigation. After, 20 years, however, these important archeological treasure-troves seemed to have been forgotten, and hungry developers were all set to cut down the trees and pour the concrete.The bulldozers never came , however, thanks mostly to the indefatiguable efforts of one woman- Kayoko Takahashi- who filmed work crews knocking down the nest of a rare goshawk ( O-Taka) after she had reported its existence to the authorites. Construction ( or should I say DESTRUCTION) was then put on temporary hold. Since then she has been campaigning tirelessly to preserve this area natural and historical heritage. It is still largely intact.

One of the many images of Kobo Daishi (the Priest Kukai) which can be found in the Tsukuba Area

Japanese hare tracks in a field in Konda

Praying mantis eggs on reeds in the fields of Konda, Tsukuba

One thing that must be done as part of efforts to protect this area for future generations is to try to raise awareness by arranging for people to experience it first hand.

Now as regular events held by the Society to Protect Konda`s Ecosystem ( founded by Takahashi-San) nature and history walks take place every 4th Sunday of the month.,

The starting time is always 9:30 AM in front of the gymnasium at the old Sakura Branch Office ( Kyu Sakura no Chosha).

Depending on the month there are different guides for these walks- some focusing on plants, some on birds, some on insects.

When I am the guide, however, I like to spread the focus between history, local customs, and not only the wild flora and fauna, but the agricultural scenery as well.

And this month, on the 23rd, I WILL be  your guide.

Please join us.

Mt Tsukuba as seem from Higashi-Oka just as the rice has been transplanted

I am SURE you will enjoy this amazing area.

I will be taking you through the hamlets of Hanamuro, Higashi-Oka, and the forest of Konda.

Hope to see you there.

The cost of joining is 300 Yen ( which is for insurance).

The woods which cover the ruins of Konda Castle

A Doso-jin roadside guardian with two-pronged daikon radishes offered by locals a a prayer for relief from foot and lower back pain

A flower of the eggplant plant!

A beautiful old thatched-roof house in Saiki, Tsukuba

A look down onto the valley in Konda,Tsukuba which was developed as part of the Jori system of land mananagement, more than 1,200 years ago



  • Nora says:

    That sounds great!
    May be able next time as tomorrow is still busy day starting with cutting the grass on the neighborhood… All the best for Takahashi’san fondation…I’ll be glad!

  • Eiji says:

    It was a good walking. Thanks Avi!

  • Dawn Lawson says:

    Can you tell me where the Kyu Sakura meetingplace is? And is the walk on rain or shine? Thanks for a great blog!