While the most spectacular flower displays occur in the Spring, Fall also offers so beautiful displays to enjoy. Most notably, fields of "Cosmos" flowers grace the landscape from mid September to late October, with probably the most impressive nearby display being around the base of the giant Buddha in Ushiku. If you haven't done your little tour of the Buddha and its grounds, this is a good time to go, as the fields in front of the statue (over 10,000 sq. m.) will be covered with a gorgeous blanket of multicolored flowers. It is possible to peak over the fence to get an idea of the scene, but you'll need to fork over 1000 yen to get into the grounds to get a good view. And while you're there, you'll want to go up into the Buddha for a tour, which is included in the entrance price. It's rather difficult to see out of the Buddha, as the windows are very narrow, but there is plenty to see inside. For those with small children, spending some time feeding the squirrels and rabbits in the adjoining enclosure is well worth the time. (tel. 0298-89-2931)
Other nearby displays include the Kokai River in Fujishiro (tel. 0297-83-1111), the Hitachi Fuudoki no Oka park in Ishioka, which includes restorations of ancient dwellings along with 3000 sq. m. of flowers; tel. 0299-23-3888), the Miyayama Fursato Fureai Park in Akeno (tel. 0296-52-1111) and the Hitachi Kaihin Park along the coast east of Mito (tel. 029-265-9001).
The Hitachi Kaihin Park, famous for its daffodils in the spring, also features 3300 rose bushes in full bloom during this same period. It is a great outing, with numerous rides for the kids at reasonable prices. Closed on Mondays.
When it comes to roses (the Ibaraki Prefectural flower), however, the best displays are at the "Flower Park" in Yasato, just over the ridge of mountains to the northeast of Tsukuba. It claims 30,000 bushes with about 500 different varieties. If you are looking for plants to buy, this is a good place to visit. (tel.. 0299-42-4111). The official Rose Festival begins Sept. 23 and runs through Nov. 12.
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