If you're looking for an interesting outing on a cold winter's day, the Fukoroda Falls in northern Ibaraki is quite a sight to behold. At 120 meters tall and 20 to 30 meters wide, Fukoroda Falls is considered one of the premier waterfalls in all of Japan.
Since the waterfall faces more or less to the north, it receives little direct sunlight, and thus even in Ibaraki's comparatively mild winters, subfreezing temperatures are enough to cause ice to build up and stay. Likewise, the fact that the water is cascading over a wide, flat surface at a depth of only a few centimeters makes for ideal ice-forming conditions.
Late January and early February is when the ice is at its peak, but even later on in February, after any cold snap, there'll be a lot of ice. In fact, on particularly cold days, when the ice is deemed stable enough, you can often watch ice climbers scale the shimmering wall of ice. Even with no climbers in sight, the sheer magnitude of this enormous icicle makes this trip well worth the effort. And if you happen to get there when it's warming up, you might be lucky enough to see great chunks come crashing down.
A new feature added to the waterfall is the installment of spotlights to light up the entire "icicle" at night. The falls are lit up from 5 to 8 pm every night, and so going there in late afternoon to see it in daylight first and hanging around until the lights come on is a good way to go.
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) -- the Suigun sen. 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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