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Japan Hour

Local Bus Trip In Ibaraki, Tochigi And Fukushima Prefectures - Part 1

Team Tagawa and Team Matsumoto engage in a game of "tag" while racing across three prefectures, covering a distance of more than 200km and completing missions at various checkpoints along the way.

This week, Team Tagawa and Team Matsumoto embark on a bus transfer race while playing a game of “tag”. The “it” and “fleeing” teams will start from Hitachi City in Ibaraki Prefecture. They will pass Tochigi Prefecture and the goal is Koriyama City in Fukushima Prefecture. The race thus spans three prefectures, covering a distance of more than 200km. The teams must visit six checkpoints along the way and complete missions there, with each successful mission earning them 2,000 yen to spend on taxis. Only the “fleeing” team can do missions so the “it” team must take a photo of the “fleeing” team to switch places with them.
The teams use “rock, paper, scissors” to decide which team will be the “fleeing” team first. Team Tagawa becomes the “fleeing” team and gets to start at 7am, while Team Matsumoto, the “it” team, will begin after an hour. The first checkpoint is Road Station Fish Centre in Hitachi City, 12km south of Hitachi Station.

Team Tagawa takes the 7.10am bus from Hitachi Station to Hitachi-Taga Station and transfers to the 7.40am bus going to Omika Station. Team Matsumoto finds a direct bus to Omika Station and catches the 8.05am bus at Hitachi Station. 

Team Tagawa reaches Omika Station and takes the 8.10am bus to the Fish Centre. Its speciality is “migatte-don”, where customers can choose from more than 30 different types of raw fish to create their own original seafood bowl. The team’s mission is to pick their ingredients and keep the total price between 1,500 yen and 2,500 yen. The prices of the seafood are hidden.

Team Matsumoto heads towards Omika Station, alights at Hitachi-Taga Station and takes the 8.45am bus to the Fish Centre. Team Tagawa, meanwhile, takes 15 minutes to pick 10 types of seafood. The total price of the seafood bowl comes up to 2,350 yen so the team wins 2,000 yen to spend on taxis. 

Team Tagawa and Team Matsumoto are told about the next checkpoint at the same time - Roadside Station Hitachiota. To get to Hitachiota Station, both teams must pass by Omika Station. 

Team Tagawa takes the 8.50am Omika-bound but decides to get off at the Kuji Chugakko Iriguchi bus stop before Omika Station, to avoid Team Matsumoto. They then catch the 9.35am bus to Hitachiota Station. However, they are not aware that Team Matsumoto has taken the 9.05am bus at Omika Station to Hitachiota. 

Team Matsumoto reaches Hitachiota Station at 9.40am. They hide and take a picture of Team Tagawa when they arrive at the station to “tag” them. Team Tagawa now becomes the “it” team, while Team Matsumoto is the “fleeing” team and can do the mission at the roadside station. In the meantime, Team Tagawa, the “it” team, has to wait 30 minutes before being “released”.

Team Matsumoto takes the bus to the second checkpoint. It offers a wide selection of local produce, cheese and other processed products. The mission is to play a game of “curling” and throw five stones in a circle consecutively. The team completes the mission and wins 2,000 yen. After their 30 minutes are up, Team Tagawa decides to wait for the other team at Hitachiota Station to ambush them. 

Both teams are told that the third checkpoint is Watanabe Farm, 70km away from Hitachiota. They must cross the prefectural border to Tochigi Prefecture. Here, the teams are given the choice to use a new feature of the race - Treasure Chest Chance. Treasure chests containing taxi money are placed along the way. If the teams find them, they can get taxi money without doing missions. 

The first treasure chest is located at Hitachi-Daigo Station. Team Tagawa decides to go there to get the treasure chest and earn more taxi money. From Hitachiota Station, they will first go to Maji Iriguchi by bus and then transfer buses to get to Hitachi-Daigo Station. To avoid getting ambushed by the other team at Hitachiota Station, Team Matsumoto, the “fleeing” team, decides to take a taxi to Kawasaki Clinic, about 500m away. They will then take a bus bound for Hitachi-Daigo Station. 

Team Matsumoto takes a taxi to the bus stop ahead of Hitachiota Station. They plan to alight at Maji Iriguchi and then catch a bus to Hitachi-Daigo Station. Team Tagawa, the “it” team, sees them and manages to “tag” them by taking their picture. Team Tagawa now switches back to being the “fleeing” team. Team Matsumoto, the “it” team, cannot move from their spot for an hour. 

Team Tagawa arrives at Maji Iriguchi at 12.35pm and switches to a bus bound for Hitachi-Daigo Station at 1pm. Team Matsumoto waits for 1.5 hours before taking the bus to Maji Iriguchi. Team Tagawa reaches Hitachi-Daigo Station and finds a treasure chest with 1,000 yen inside. After this, they take the bus at 2.15pm and go to Morinomae, the nearest bus stop to the prefectural border. The Unganji bus stop in Tochigi Prefecture is about 6km away, so they decide to take a taxi. Team Matsumoto is at Maji Iriguchi, waiting for a bus going to Hitachi-Daigo Station. To cross the prefectural border, they too decide to take a bus to Morinomae and then travel by taxi. 


1)    Try the popular “migatte-don” at Road Station Fish Centre in Hitachi City
2)    Crossing a prefectural border can be difficult, with fewer buses available

Source: CNA


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