Tsukuba, Ibaraki

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This article is about the city. For the district, see Tsukuba District, Ibaraki.
Special city
View of Mount Tsukuba and Tsukuba Center
View of Mount Tsukuba and Tsukuba Center
Flag of Tsukuba
Location of Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture
Location of Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture
Tsukuba is located in Japan
Location in Japan
Coordinates: 36°2′N 140°4′E / 36.033°N 140.067°E / 36.033; 140.067Coordinates: 36°2′N 140°4′E / 36.033°N 140.067°E / 36.033; 140.067
Country Japan
Region Kantō
Prefecture Ibaraki Prefecture
 • Mayor Kenichi Ichihara
 • Total 284.07 km2 (109.68 sq mi)
Population (October 1, 2012)
 • Total 217,315
 • Density 765.00/km2 (1,981.3/sq mi)
 • Tree Japanese zelkova
 • Flower Hoshizaki-yukinoshita (Saxifraga stolonifera Curtis f. aptera (Makino) H.Hara)
 • Bird Ural owl
Time zone Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)
City Hall Address 2530-2 Karima, Tsukuba-shi, Ibaraki
Website www.city.tsukuba.ibaraki.jp
Tsukuba Center, in the city central district
One of the buildings at the University of Tsukuba
The Tsukuba Express
Mount Tsukuba

Tsukuba (つくば市 Tsukuba-shi?) is a city located in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. It is known as the location of the Tsukuba Science City (筑波研究学園都市 Tsukuba Kenkyū Gakuen Toshi?), a planned science park developed in the 1960s.

As of October 1, 2012, the city has an estimated population of 217,315, with 90,151 households and a population density of 765 persons per km². The total area is 284.07 km2 (109.68 sq mi).

Mount Tsukuba, particularly well known for its toad-shaped Shinto shrine, is located on the city's northern border. Tsukuba is a twin city of Irvine, California, Milpitas, California, and Cambridge, Massachusetts[1][2] in the United States of America, and Grenoble in France.


The Fudoki of Hitachi Province (常陸国風土記 Hitachi no kuni Fudoki?), a national geography completed in 721, says Tsukuba was named after a noble called Tsukuha no Mikoto (筑箪命?).[3] According to the book, Tsukuba was once called Ki Province (紀国 Ki no kuni?). Under the reign of Mimaki no Sumeramikoto (美麻貴天皇?) (Emperor Sujin), Tsukuha no Mikoto from the Uneme clan (采女氏 uneme uji?) was appointed as its governor. He had a strong desire to leave his name in history, so he renamed the province to Tsukuha, which is now pronounced Tsukuba.[3] This description may be unhistorical, since Emperor Sujin is now considered to be a legendary person, but at least it suggests the name Tsukuba has been used from ancient times.


Tsukuba Science City represents one of the world's largest coordinated attempts to accelerate the rate of and improve the quality of scientific discovery. The city was closely modeled on other planned cities and science developments, including Brasilia, Novosibirsk's Akademgorodok, Bethesda, and Palo Alto. The city was founded by the merger of Ōho, Sakura, Toyosato, and Yatabe.

Beginning in the 1960s, the area was designated for development. Construction of the city centre, the University of Tsukuba and 46 public basic scientific research laboratories began in the 1970s. The city became operational in the 1980s to stimulate scientific discovery. Its constituent municipalities were administratively united in 1987.

By 2000, the city's 60 national research institutes and two universities had been grouped into five zones: higher education and training, construction research, physical science and engineering research, biological and agricultural research, and common (public) facilities. These zones were surrounded by more than 240 private research facilities. Among the most prominent institutions are the University of Tsukuba (1973; formerly Tokyo University of Education); the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK); the Electrotechnical Laboratory; the Mechanical Engineering Laboratory; and the National Institute of Materials and Chemical Research. The city has an international flair, with about 3,000 foreign students and researchers from as many as 90 countries living in Tsukuba at any one time.

Over the past several decades, nearly half of Japan's public research and development budget has been spent in Tsukuba. Important scientific breakthroughs by its researchers include the identification and specification of the molecular structure of superconducting materials, the development of organic optical films that alter their electrical conductivity in response to changing light, and the creation of extreme low-pressure vacuum chambers[citation needed]. Tsukuba has become one of the world's key sites for government-industry collaborations in basic research. Earthquake safety, environmental degradation, studies of roadways, fermentation science, microbiology, and plant genetics are some of the broad research topics having close public-private partnerships.

Tsukuba hosted the Expo '85 world's fair, which is commemorated by a full-scale, working rocket in the city park. Attractions at the event included the 85-metre (279 ft) Technocosmos, which at that time was the world's tallest Ferris wheel.[4]

During the Fukushima I nuclear accidents in 2011, evacuees from the accident zone reported that municipal officials in Tsukuba refused to allow them access to shelters in the city unless they presented certificates from the Fukushima government declaring that the evacuees were "radiation free".[5]

On May 6, 2012, Tsukuba was struck by a tornado that caused heavy damage to numerous structures and approximately 20,000 residents were left without electricity. The storm injured 45 people and a 14-year-old boy was killed. The tornado was rated an F-3 by the Japan Meteorological Agency, making it the most powerful tornado to ever hit Japan. Some spots had F-4 damage.[6]


On August 24, 2005, a rail service called the Tsukuba Express, or simply "TX", opened. Operated by the Metropolitan Intercity Railway Company, it provides Tsukuba with a rapid connection to Akihabara Station in Tokyo. It takes 45 minutes to travel between Tsukuba Station and Akihabara Station.

The bus station, in the same area as the TX, offers intracity transport as well as travel to stations in nearby towns and to major stations throughout Kantō.

Tsukuba is on the Joban Expressway, the express tollway which runs between Tokyo and Mito.

The closest major airport is Narita International Airport, connected to Tsukuba with a regular bus service (the travel time is approximately 1 hour 40 minutes). Haneda Airport is accessible from the city via a bus that carries people daily from the airport to the city's center. A new domestic airport has been built in nearby Omitama, Ibaraki which connects with Sapporo, Hokkaido, Naha, Okinawa, Osaka, and Fukuoka.

Research institutes in Tsukuba[edit]



International schools:

Name in kanji[edit]

Tsukuba (つくば?) is one of a small number of hiragana cities in Japan whose names are written in hiragana rather than kanji (Chinese characters). When written in kanji, it is rendered "筑波."

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]

International relations[edit]

Twin towns, sister cities[edit]

Tsukuba is twinned with:


  1. ^ "A Message from the Peace Commission: Information on Cambridge's Sister Cities," February 15, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-12.
  2. ^ Richard Thompson. "Looking to strengthen family ties with 'sister cities'," Boston Globe, October 12, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-12.
  3. ^ a b Takeda, Yukichi, ed. (1937), Fudoki (in Japanese), Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten (岩波書店?), p. 49, ISBN 4-00-300031-5 
  4. ^ James W. Dearing (1995). Growing a Japanese Science City: Communication in Scientific Research. London: Routledge.
  5. ^ Jiji Press, "Tsukuba asked evacuees for radiation papers", Japan Times, 20 April 2011, p. 2.
  6. ^ "Tornado in Tsukuba rated as strongest ever : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri)". Retrieved 2012-06-10. 
  7. ^ "Escolas Brasileiras Homologadas no Japão" (Archive). Embassy of Brazil in Tokyo. Retrieved on October 13, 2015.
  8. ^ "University of Tsukuba Prospectus Leo Esaki". Retrieved 2013-02-28. 
  9. ^ "「補償金もDRMも必要ない」――音楽家 平沢進氏の提言 (1/4)" (in Japanese). ITmedia. Retrieved 2013-02-03. 
  10. ^ "University of Tsukuba Prospectus Hideki Shirakawa". Retrieved 2013-02-28. 
  11. ^ 友好城市 (Friendly cities), 市外办 (Foreign Affairs Office), 2008-03-22. (Translation by Google Translate.)
  12. ^ 国际友好城市一览表 (International Friendship Cities List), 2011-01-20. (Translation by Google Translate.)
  13. ^ 友好交流 (Friendly exchanges), 2011-09-13. (Translation by Google Translate.)

External links[edit]