If you have ridden the Tsukuba Express and looked out the window to the north as you go by the Kenkyu Gakuen Station (station #2), you may have noticed the large sign advertising "Tsukuba Style Festival", which runs until Oct. 31. As much of the surrounding area consists of empty lots under various stages of construction, it is not immediately obvious where this "festival" is. It certainly doesn't look like a likely place for a festival, such as the annual Tsukuba Festival held downtown.
My curiosity, plus a coupon sent in the mail to me for a free clock, spurred me to go and check it out. I went on a rainy Tuesday, and so there were not many visitors. In fact, it appeared there were more guides and other workers wearing orange vests than visitors.
The main section of the festival grounds is in a rather conspicuous forest about 500 meters to the northeast of the station, but there are also lines of booths in front of the station and along the path leading from the station towards the main location. Parking is an issue as it is a bit of a walk from the festival grounds. Signs guide you along the main road (route 19) for quite some distance to an entrance lined with orange cones that takes you into a huge parking lot with thousands of traffic cones delineating the lanes. That in itself is an interesting sight! If you can park close to the other side (towards the station), it is about a 5-minute walk to the festival site.
The festival grounds consist mostly of small prefab buildings related to housing appliances and gardens. Activities include a nice kids play area in the forest with various things to climb on, a reconstruction of an ancient Japanese farm house, a place to try out pottery making, and various "pavilions" (actually, small plastic covered green houses and prefabs) that feature housing and gardening exhibits. There are a few free items (I picked up a sack of garden fertilizer), and, of course, you can buy various items (e.g. blueberry jam) in the stalls. There is a fairly large fast food tent that you can eat at inexpensively. If you have the time and it's a nice day, it might be worth your while to pay it a visit. It is not, however, a place I would put high on the priority list to which to take a visitor to Tsukuba with limited time.
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