Late October through mid-November is a great time to visit scenic spots in Ibaraki or nearby areas. The leaves are usually not that great right here in Tsukuba, but in the mountains of northern Ibaraki, they can be spectacular. Reports on this year's prospects are for an especially good fall season. This would be in contrast to last year, when the leaves seemed to pretty well bypass the brilliant colors and turned a drab red-brown. It all depends, of course, on the weather, but so far, the weather pattern being followed this year should make them especially good.
The best place to go is the spectacular Fukuroda Falls, a 120 meter high, 73 meter wide fall near Daigo Machi. Nearby, there is also the Ryujin Dam, with its huge suspension pedestrian bridge, touted to be the longest in Japan. If you have business to take care of in Mito, the gingo trees in front of the prefectural capital are really spectacular in mid-November. They cover a whole hillside in brilliant yellow and are especially nice in the afternoon sun.
Another good spot in mid-November is the Narita Shrine. The various ancient buildings themselves are quite interesting to see, and there are plenty of maple trees in the spacious gardens and should be quite a site when the leaves turn. It's a great little side-trip to take if you've got business at Narita airport and can spend an extra hour or two strolling around the grounds.
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