One of Japan's premier waterfalls, "Fukuroda no Taki" is located almost 2 hours north of Tsukuba. During the winter, this waterfall freezes up into a giant icicle 120 meters high. The falls consist of 4 sections that spread out the modest flow of water into a shallow sheet some 20 to 30 meters wide, making for a beautiful scene any time of the year. As the falls face more or less to the north, the winter sun can't reach them at all, and so the temperatures don't have to be all that cold to get the falls to freeze up. Typically, every year in late January and early February, the falls are so solid that ice climbers scale them for sport.
This year, from Sat. Jan. 26 to Sunday Feb. 3, the Fukuroda no Taki Ice Festival will be held. Entrance is 300 yen for adults and 200 yen for middle school children and under. It is free after 5 pm, when the falls are lighted up in various colors until 8 pm. There is no guarantee, of course, that we won't have a warm spell during that time that melts much of the ice. But the weather so far this winter has certainly be favorable for ice formation, and even into late February, when there is a significant cold spell, you can see the ice.
To get there by car, go up the Joban Expressway to the Naka Interchange and exit back towards Tsukuba. Turn right at the first main road and then again right on Route 118 a couple of km up from there. Continue up 118 through Omiya for about 35 km. The falls are to the right just shortly before you get to Daigo Machi.
You can also get there fairly easily by train. You simply take the Joban line to Mito and then change over to the line connecting Mito and Koriyama (Fukushima). You then get off at the Fukuroda Station. It's about 2 km up to the falls, and you can either take a bus, a taxi or a nice hike.
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