A Day in Sawara

While Japan is a country of fascinating history and culture it is perhaps unfortunate that some of its oldest buildings can be hard to find. Natural disasters, wooden structures, and war has meant that preserved areas can be hard to find, particularly in urban prefectures such as Tokyo and Chiba. Luckily, where concrete high rises are the staples of Chiba’s cities, old-world charm can be found in its towns. 30km north-west of Chiba’s spiritual centre Shinshoji Temple lies Sawara, a beautifully preserved neighbourhood of Katori City.

A Day in Sawara

A 10-minute walk from JR Sawara Station, lies the Sawara old town. Sawara flourished in the Edo period, thanks to its canal being a centre for water businesses and was even nicknamed Edo masari (surpasser of Tokyo), as it was more prosperous than the capital. Today the canal is still the centrepiece of Sawara’s sightseeing appeal, with a number of charming bridges crossing it. The most notable bridge is the Ja Ja Bridge from which a waterfall spouts into the canal below twice every hour.

A Day in Sawara

If you prefer to get onto the river rather than just look at it, a number of companies offer boat tours along the Ono River, in the 1,000 to 2,000 yen price range. This can be a wonderful way to see the town as water merchants in the Edo period would have. To complete your transformation into the past, head to the Inoh Tadataka Museum. Just a short walk from the canal, the museum honors Inoh Tadataka, the first person to make a surveyed map of Japan. He walked the length of Japan and travelled to the islands for his research – no mean feat in 1800. The museum contains many beautiful and fascinating maps, paintings, and drawings as well as a fun puzzle room.

A Day in Sawara
A Day in Sawara

If you’re feeling peckish Sawara has no shortage of restaurants for its tasteful tourists. Try Inae for tasty light noodles in a beautiful Japanese setting. The restaurant building is actually a traditional Japanese home that has been renovated. For food on the go, try the town’s great yakimochi – pounded rice cake, prepared in the traditional way of using a small charcoal grill.

A Day in Sawara

Sake brewing has had a history in Sawara since the 1600s. In the Edo period, sake was shipped along the Ono River to the capital along with soy sauce, vinegar, and miso. This legacy continues today with Tokun Sake Brewery still being a respected sake brand. Tokun offers free tours every day for visitors to Sawara and at the end you can sample some of the brewery’s tasty sake.

A Day in Sawara

A day in Sawara isn’t complete without a trip to pay your respects at Katori Jingu, a major shrine atmospherically surrounded by forest. Katori Jingu is said to have been founded in 43 AD and enshrines Futsunushi no Kami, a deity who is believed to have helped found Japan. Unlike the other attractions mentioned, this one is a little way from the canal, but its remote location is part of its charm. Take a four-minute train to Katori Station on either the Kashima or Narita line. It’s then a 25-minute walk.
A day in Sawara is like a trip back in time to Edo Japan. If you fancy a traditional day out, Sawara offers the perfect counterbalance to the skyscrapers in Tokyo. There are buses from Tokyo Station or it’s a 45-minute train journey from Narita International Airport, with a brief change at JR Narita Station.

Facility Name
Naritasan Shinshoji Temple
Address
Chiba Pref. Naritashi Narita 1
Phone
0476222111
Introduction
Naritasan Shinshoji Temple is a lead temple in the Chisan school of Shingon located in Narita, Chiba Prefecture. In order to suppress a revolt by Tairano Masakado which broke out in the Heian period, it began with the fact that Kobo Daishi was spiritually enlightened by the high priest Kancho as Acala was enshrined and became the principal image of worship at the temple. Many well-known figures had strong faith including such figures as Minamotono Yoritomo, Mito Mitsukuni and Ichikawa Danjuro, and Narita Fudo prompted many commoners to have faith. On the grounds of the temple, there are very big gardens maintained which cover an area of approximately 3.5 times that of Tokyo Dome, and you can see seasonal plants in the garden.
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Sawara
Address
Chiba Pref. Katorishi Sawara Lee
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Toyohashi
Address
Chiba Pref. Katorishi Sawara Lee Ino Tadataka former residence before
Phone
0478501212
Business hours
30-minute intervals up to 9-17
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Azumakaoru Sake Brewing
Address
Chiba Pref. Katorishi Sawara Lee 627
Phone
0478551122
Business hours
10-16 (tour -15:30)
Regular holiday
open everday
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Katori Jingu
Address
Chiba Pref. Katorishi Katori 1697
Phone
0478573211
Business hours
Treasure Museum is 9-16
Regular holiday
open everday
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Katori
Address
Chiba Pref. Katorishi Tsunomiya
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Narita
Address
Chiba Pref. Naritashi Hanazakichou
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN

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PLACES IN THIS ARTICLE

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    Azumakaoru Sake Brewing

    Liquor Store
    Chiba Pref. Katorishi Sawara Lee 627
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    Inochukei Memorial

    Memorial
    Chiba Pref. Katorishi Sawara Lee 1722-1
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    Katori Jingu

    Shrine (Inari/Gongen)
    Chiba Pref. Katorishi Katori 1697
  • dummy image

    Toyohashi

    Bridge
    Chiba Pref. Katorishi Sawara Lee Ino Tadataka former residence before
  • dummy image

    Katori

    Station
    Chiba Pref. Katorishi Tsunomiya
  • dummy image

    Sawara

    Station
    Chiba Pref. Katorishi Sawara Lee
  • dummy image

    Narita

    Station
    Chiba Pref. Naritashi Hanazakichou
  • Naritasan Shinshoji Temple image

    Naritasan Shinshoji Temple

    Temple (Kannon/Fudo Myoo)
    Chiba Pref. Naritashi Narita 1
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