Japan With Kids - Tsukuba International Exchange Fair
Tsukuba City has a thriving community of foreigners. There are numerous research labs, and many universities have a variety of facilities in Tsukuba. As a result there are hundreds of highly educated foreign nationals from all over the world, working in Tsukuba City mostly in research sciences, or as Japan International Cooperation Agency trainees or international exchange students (on the tertiary level). Tsukuba is sometimes called "Tsukuba Science City".
In spite of the relatively small overall population (compared to Tokyo), there are three international schools and an English language publication called The Alien Times. Some of the local Japanese primary schools and intermediate schools are accustomed to hosting foreign kids. The Tsukuba City government has put a bit of effort into a fairly informative English section on their website.
As of August 2005, a new train line called the Tsukuba Express began service from Tokyo to Tsukuba (time table). It starts in Akihabara, ends in Tsukuba, and passes through Kita Senju on the way. The express takes 45 minutes from end point to end point. Before 2005, people used a bus from Tokyo station or the JR Joban train line. These routes are still available, but slower. The Tsukuba government web site has a page regarding access to Tsukuba.
Every year in May (second weekend) there is the big International Exchange Fair
in Tsukuba City. It is organized by The Tsukuba Cultural Foundation. In 2006
the 18th Festival was held May 13-14. In 2009 it is the weekend May 9-10. On
Saturday it is always from noon to 18:00, and on Sunday it is always from 10:00
The following link shows photos of the building and patios (which have earned
architectural recognition) where the festival takes place:
There is also the standard assortment of Japanese festival food and game booths if you check out the other three components of the Festival. There are even hands-on activities for your kids, some of which require parental assistance. We still have a lopsided bird house that we put together with hammer and nails at one of the craft options! These take place according to a fixed time schedule.
Tsukuba City English Information desk: 029-857-1870, 10:00 to 16:45 on Tuesdays
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