If you ever want to try ride the smallest Shinkansen train in the world just head over to the Kitashinagawa Shukumatsuri in autumn every year. I saw these two very happy looking volunteers taking the local kids out for a spin on a train line that must have been at least one hundred meters long, Shinkansen in one end and small steam engine looking train in the other. I felt a little bit weird stepping over the track to avoid the train as it came hurtling towards me at almost 6 km/h, but the siren sounded almost as fierce as on a normal sized train!
The only manmade object in Ibaraki Prefecture visible from Tokyo is the huge Ushiku Daibutsu, a standing buddha statue that is so tall that on very clear days you can see it from the top of the Tokyo Skytree tower in Tokyo, about 50km to the south west. It is located in northern Ushiku City and visible for miles around, quite impressive. The statue itself is 100m and standing atop a 20m tall base. For comparison the American Statue of Liberty is 40m. More posts to come on this statue!
The other week I visited the famous Yasukuni Shrine in the heart of Tokyo to see their beautiful sando, sacred approaching path lined by yellowing ginko trees. The light up was organized at the same time as a sake festival and there lots of stands to get food and drink While plenty of people were taking advantage of this I spent most of my time closer to the shrine to see the views of the closed front gate and the lit yellow leaves of the trees.