Tsukuba is the home of Tsukuba Science City and the headquarters of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Near Tsukuba, you'll discover impressive sites like the massive Ushiku Daibutsu Buddha statue and Mt. Tsukuba with its twin peaks. The town is home to a wide variety of stunning parks.
Tsukuba is easily accessible from Tokyo on the Tsukuba Express. You can also get there by highway bus.
The Tsukuba Express is a rapid train that takes 45 minutes from Akihabara Station to Tsukuba Station. You can also take a local train using the Joban Line from Ueno Station to Tsukuba Station. Highway buses go directly to Tsukuba from Tokyo Station, Ueno Station, both airports, and Disney Resorts.
Mt. Tsukuba is a double-peaked mountain often compared to Mt. Fuji. Like Mt. Fuji, its hazy outline dominates the landscape in many parts of the eastern Kanto Region. But unlike Mt. Fuji, which is desolate and rugged, Mt. Tsukuba's slopes are covered with vegetation and blooming flowers.
Also unlike Mt. Fuji, it's a relatively low mountain and the hike is fairly quick and easy. It takes about three hours to get to the top and the view of the expanse of mountains and valleys from the summit is well worth it.
There are a number of things to do on or around Mt. Tsukuba. The Mt. Tsukuba Cable Car offers a unique way to take in the view and also offers nighttime rides under the starlit sky. There is an aerial tramway and also a funicular that takes you up the mountain, as well as shops and restaurants at the top with stunning views.
At the base of the mountain, you'll find Tsukuba Shrine. This shrine is known for its massive bell and its carvings that are reminiscent of those found at Nikko.
Near Tsukuba you'll find one of the world's tallest Buddha statues, the Ushiku Daibutsu. At 120 meters tall, it's an impressive and imposing sight. It's said to be big enough to hold the famous Nara Buddha statue in its hand.
You can actually go inside the bronze statue and take an elevator 85 meters up to an observation floor. On a clear day you can see as far as Tokyo Skytree. There are also guided tours and exhibits inside the statue about Buddhism.
If you want to learn all about Japan's space research and exploration, Tsukuba Space Center is the place to go. This is the headquarters and main operational facility for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Japan's equivalent to NASA in the United States. At Tsukuba Space Center, you can enjoy exhibits and displays while uniformed JAXA employees carry out research and development.
Items on display include full-scale satellite models, the Kibo training module that's used to prepare astronauts for their research activities in space, and a full-scale model of the 50-meter H-II Launch Vehicle. There are displays, video presentations, guided tours, and other educational activities as well.
Another great spot for science lovers is the Tsukuba Expo Center, where the theme is, "See, touch, and enjoy everything." As the theme suggests, the facility is full of experiential, hands-on educational displays that make learning about science fun. Tsukuba Expo Center is a great place to take kids.
Science lovers will also enjoy Tsukuba Geological Museum. The museum is full of fossils, minerals, shiny rocks, and unique geological formations.
Tsukuba has lots of excellent parks. Chuo Park is in the center of town and is quiet and relaxing. It's dotted with statues and displays that describe the history of the earth and solar system, in keeping with the town's science and space exploration theme.
Doho Park is based around a large, placid lake with plenty of benches for sitting and relaxing. There's a nice playground for kids.
Matsumi Park is a quiet and out-of-the-way park with a fish pond and a 100-meter observation tower that offers views of Tsukuba.
The Tsukuba Botanical Garden is next to the University of Tsukuba.