Tsukuba (つくば市, Tsukuba-shi) is a city located in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. As of 1 June 2019, the city had an estimated population of 239,747, and a population density of 845 persons per km². Its total area is 283.72 square kilometres (109.54 square miles). 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.


Located in southern Ibaraki Prefecture, Tsukuba is located to the south of Mount Tsukuba, from which it takes its name.

Surrounding municipalities


Mount Tsukuba has been a place of pilgrimage since at least the Heian period. During the Edo period, parts of what later became the city of Tsukuba were administered by a junior branch of the Hosokawa clan at Yatabe Domain, one of the feudal domains of the Tokugawa shogunate. With the creation of the municipalities system after the Meiji Restoration on April 1, 1889, the town Yatabe was established within Tsukuba District, Ibaraki.

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. Tsukuba Science City became operational in the 1980s. The Expo '85 world's fair was held in the area of Tsukuba Science City, which at the time was still divided administratively between several small towns and villages. Attractions at the event included the 85-metre (279 ft) Technocosmos, which at that time was the world's tallest Ferris wheel.[2]

On November 30, 1987 the town of Yatabe merged with the neighboring towns of Ōho and Toyosato and the village of Sakura to create the city of Tsukuba. The neighboring town of Tsukuba merged with the city of Tsukuba on January 1, 1988, followed by the town of Kukizaki on November 1, 2002.

By 2000, the city's 60 national research institutes and two national 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 7,500 foreign students and researchers from as many as 133 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.

On April 1, 2007 Tsukuba was designated a Special city with increased autonomy.

Following 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".[3]

On May 6, 2012, Tsukuba was struck by a tornado that caused heavy damage to numerous structures and left approximately 20,000 residents without electricity. The storm killed one 14-year-old boy and injured 45 people. 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.[4]


Companies headquartered in Tsukuba



Higher education

Primary and secondary education

Tsukuba has 37 elementary schools, 15 middle schools, two combined middle school/high schools and six high schools, along with one special education school. In addition, it has an international school, Tsukuba International School, and a Brazilian school, the Instituto Educare (former Escola Pingo de Gente).[6]