Mito, Ibaraki

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Mito (水戸市; -shi) is the capital of Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. As of 2003, the city has an estimated population of 248,615 and the density of 1,413.39 persons per km². The total area is 175.90 km².

The Yamato people settled in Mito around the fourth century CE. Around the end of the Heian period, Baba Sukemoto, a warlord of the Heike family, moved to Mito and built a castle there. Mito Castle changed hands several times after that: a daimyo named Satake Yoshinobu won it in the mid-1500's, but he was forced to surrender it to Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1603 after the epic Battle of Sekigahara. Ieyasu's son Tokugawa Yorifusa then took over Mito Castle, becoming one of the three "gosanke" family members fortified outside of Edo. The Tokugawas directly ruled Mito until the mid-1800's, when the bakufu in Edo was overthrown.

Plum Festival at Kairakuen in Mito
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Plum Festival at Kairakuen in Mito

The modern city of Mito was formed on April 1, 1889, with a population of 25,000. It was designated as the prefectural capital. By 1900, the Joban Line connected it to Tokyo, and by 1910, telephones and electric lighting were available throughout the city. Although more than three-fourths of the city burned to the ground near the end of World War II, the population had rebounded to 70,000 just two years later, and has continued to grow ever since.

Today, Mito is primarily a commercial and administrative city: most industry in Ibaraki is centered around the nearby city of Tsukuba. Mito also has a modest but thriving tourism industry, centered in Kairakuen Park, one of the most famous parks in the country. The local museums dedicated to the Tokugawa family also draw crowds.

Mito is famous for its natto.

External links

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