In the early 1960s, the Japanese government realized that Tokyo was becoming too crowded, and decided to relocate many of the nation's research institutes outside of the city limits. Tsukuba was the chosen candidate, and in 1963 the Tsukuba creation act was signed. The first research institute was completed in 1968, and in 1973 the University of Tsukuba was established. By 1980 the city was home to around 40 research institutions and had become a working research hub. In 1985, Tsukuba hosted the World's Fair.
Tsukuba is located around 60KM North-east of Tokyo, in Ibaraki prefecture. Akihabara in central Tokyo is only 45 minutes from Tsukuba center using the new Tsukuba Express train, which was opened in 2005. Ibaraki is a traditional, rural area in Japan, providing an abundant natural environment for study and research. To the north, Mount Tsukuba dominates the skyline, while to the east, lies the second biggest lake in Japan - lake Kasumigaura.
Tsukuba mountain is home to Tsukuba mountain shrine - the third oldest working Shinto shrine in Japan. The mountain itself if 877 meters high, and can either be climbed on foot or visitors can take a ropeway or cable car to the summit. The shrine holds several festivals throughout the year.
Tsukuba holds a number of key positions in terms of Japanese scientific research. For example, Tsukuba is home to TIA Nano; a consortium of nanotechnology research institutes based in Tsukuba and funded by the central government. Furthermore, Tsukuba is home to the national center for robotics, and researchers at the university pioneer robotic technologies aimed at improving human lives, particularly in terms of medical applications. Recently, Tsukuba was named as one of four "International Strategic Zones" promoting life and green innovation with life science and technology. This will aid new developments in these areas in Tsukuba, simplifying planning procedures, and stimulating innovation.
By Japanese standards, the population of Tsukuba is extremely diverse. Tsukuba is home to approximately 220,000 people, with around 8,500 foreign residents. These residents hail from over 90 countries. The population of Tsukuba is younger than the national average, and tend to be well educated. Around 20,000 researchers work in Tsukuba, with over 5,000 of them holding a Ph.D. degree. The University itself has around 2,000 foreign students, from around 100 countries.