If you are interested in trying something really adventurous, how about dangling from a paraglider?! Yasato-machi has a paraglider school in the mountains just north of Mt. Tsukuba. Call the Ibaraki Sky Sports School, they offer a beginners package for ¥10,000, which allows you to learn how to handle a paraglider and try your luck from a 30 m high slope. For those with experience, the advanced flights leave from the mountain 400 m above the plain, from which you "can take a walk through the sky" for several hours (at only ¥30,000!). The above prices do include insurance. If you are interested in finding out more about what's involved (in Japanese, of course), call 0120-43-0893. Even if you're too intreped to try it yourself, it is a nice outing just to go watch the dare devils fly. It is located at the northern end of the valley to the northeast of Mt. Tsukuba on the eastern slope of the mountain. Mt. Katsu, at 709 m, is the second highest peak in the range, behind Mt. Tsukuba (876 m). If you take the "Fruit Line" road about 8 km past Flower Park, there is an intersection, with the road going straight ahead leading over the mountain going right into Kasama. The road going to the left is the road to take, and it also winds through the mountains and on up to Route 50 and Kasama. Once you have gone 2 or 3 km on that road, you should be able to see the paragliders.
You can also try your hand at jet skis on the "taiken course" (literally, "have an experience course") for ¥4000. The school is located on the large lake southeast of Mito called Hinuma. This lake connects in with the ocean a few km downstream at Oarai.
The "yacht harbor" is located on the south shore of the lake, off of Route 16. They also rent "banana boats", inner tubes and other water sports equipment. For more information, call 029-293-8989.
Speaking of sailing, Tsuchiura has its own yacht harbor, and though the boats are all privately owned, many owners are willing to take people along for a ride for a fee that depends on the size of the boat and number of people. By calling 0298-22-2437, you can find out which boats are available and how things are operated.
Another good way to cool off and have a chance to experience something new is to try canoeing. Rental canoes are available for ¥4000 per day. Classes are held daily for beginners for a fee of ¥3000 per person. The school is located at the Nakayoshi Campground off of Route 123 in Motegi Town, about 40 min. west of Mito.
If you are into camping, there are, of course, numerous campgrounds available. They are too numerous to list here, but if you are interested in trying your hand at camping (and the interesting people you're sure to meet), ask the helpful people at the Tsukuba Information Center next to Nova Hall (tel. 52-6789). They can point you in the right direction (as well as give you information on other things you might be interested in).
The International Women's Network (IWN) is a group of women who enjoy chatting with people from all over the world. We hold a monthly potluck dinner where we exchange information about the local community while eating a variety of foods. No reservation is needed to attend the potluck. Just bring one dish of food and show up at the meeting. Newcomers are always welcome! Take advantage of this unique opportunity to enjoy the international city of Tsukuba with us!
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