Flashback to the 18th century, Chiba is home to ancient shrines and merchant towns preserved in Edo period, close to the cities of Narita and Sawara.
What To Do
Naritasan Shinshoji Temple is a well- known Buddhist temple in Edo period that presently attracts millions of visitors annually. While in Narita city, Boso no Mura Museum is a cultural gem where you can dress up in old armours, learn about the tea ceremony and make Japanese desserts. Katori Shrine is founded a millennia ago and is currently one of Japan’s most important shrines. Tours are available on temple grounds for a thorough sacred guide.
Sawara Old Town is a riverside city with rows of kurazukuri, traditional Japanese architectural buildings where one can relive the Edo period in the air of heritage. You can also opt for a cruise along the peaceful stream of Onogawa River for an overview of the city. Visit Suigo Sawara Aquatic Botanical Garden for a breathtaking sight of a million lotus and irises of various species covering the lavish 6-hectares garden.
How To Get There
Sawara is only 15 kilometres away from Narita so you can easily take the JR Narita Line train service to JR Sawara Station which is only a 30-minute train ride. Japan’s bustling Narita International Airport (which is also the main stop for Tokyo) is in Chiba Prefecture where one can fly directly there with most major airlines across the world. Flights from KL take almost 7 hours.
Where To Stay
Check out Narita View Hotel for its close proximity to the airport and Naritasan Shinshoji Temple. Besides having cosy contemporary rooms, guests can unwind in the hotel’s onsen.
Sleep in tatami rooms and futon beds at the New Makomo Hotel for an authentic Japanese night-stay overviewing Hitachitone River. It is also within walking distance to Itako train station just 3 stops away from Sawara.
Where To Eat
There are many Japanese restaurants along the streets of Sawara. Koboriya has the best Kurokiri soba boiled with fresh seaweed while Hasegawa is known for their freshwater eel; unagi with rice.
For light snacks, Takeotei sells taiyaki, a local fish-shaped pastry with red bean paste. This region had been producing sake since Edo years so taste some of Japan’s favourite spirit brands at Tokun Shuzo Sake Brewery or Baba Honten Brewery as winter is a sake-brewing season.
Local Tips & Facts
- Ino Tadataka, the man who accurately mapped Japan, had a memorial museum erected in his hometown Sawara featuring his cartography tools.
- Japanese emperors pray in the direction of the east where Katori Shrine is also facing as it is believed to be protecting the nation.
- The making of soy sauce started at Sawara in the Edo period so taste and shop for a few bottles while you are there.
Text by Jessy Wong