"Palacio De La Guitarra" (pronounced with a distinct rolling of the r's!) is a very interesting museum of guitars located on the "back side" of Mt. Tsukuba in Yasato. Since opening in 1993, the "Gitah (Guitar) Bunkakan" has featured a number of interesting concerts in an unusual setting, located quite definitely "off the beaten path." Founded by Hosokawa Kouichi, an accomplished guitarist in his own right, the hall features many rare classical guitars (sorry, no electric, rock-band type guitars here!) from around the world and some displays on how guitars are constructed. One wonders why such a magnificent place would be built in such an out-of-the-way place, but from Tsukuba, it is a relatively easy drive (as long as you don't get lost, that is), and definitely worth the effort. Unfortunately, however, it is only open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm. Regular admission to the museum part is ¥300 (children ¥150). Mini guitar concerts are held at 11 am, 2 pm and 4 pm both days, with admission being ¥500.
Several times a year, special concerts are held, with some involving instruments other than classical guitars. Sunday, April 20, professional violinist Craig Coleman, who lives right here in Tsukuba, will be giving a concert beginning at 4 pm. The domed hall has particularly good acoustics, and being fairly small, it makes for a really special musical experience. Tickets for each of the special concerts (12 this year) are ¥3000 each, and reservations can be made by calling the "bunkakan" at 0299-46-2457 or faxing 0299-46-2628. "Fan Club" ticket sets of 4 for ¥10,000 are also available, and include a nice little present as well.
It is not an easy place to find, but if you follow the directions, it is a nice drive that should give you no problems. From Tsukuba, the best way is to go up and over the ridge of mountains leading up to Mount Tsukuba from Tsuchiura (near the end of the ridge of mountains closest to Tsuchiura). This road is the only one going over this end of the mountain, and so you can't miss it. (It begins near the Tsuchiura-Kita interchange on the Joban and proceeds through Niihari Mura.) After you get down to the base of the mountain on the other side (the road from there is called the "Fruit Line"), continue straight on this road for about 14 km. You will go past Flower Park (well worth visiting if the weather is nice), and just as you are approaching the next ridge of mountains, turn right at the intersection and proceed towards Iwama for about 5 km. You will see a 6-story hospital (Hogoso Byoin) sitting prominently on a hill to your right. The "Gitah Bunkakan" is located a few hundred meters further on down the ridge of that hill and is easily visible from the main road.
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