This week’s Exploring Japan is Chiba Prefecture, the first of 6 prefectures that I’ve actually been to.
Chiba is located in the Kanto region of eastern Honshu. It’s immediately east of Tokyo, and is part of the Great Tokyo area. It has a population of 6,201,046. The capital city is Chiba, on Tokyo Bay. The 5 largest cities are:
- Chiba (962,624)
- Funabashi (610,572)
- Matsudo (481,574)
- Ichikawa (469,603)
- Kashiwa (404,262)
Chiba is a very urban prefecture, especially in the northwest. However, on the Boso Peninsula, there are many mountains and natural areas. Chiba is well-known for its numerous golf courses and surfing.
Otaki Castle is a decent looking castle in Otaki. Apparently, the reconstruction may be an older version of the castle.
Inohana Castle (or Chiba Castle) is located in Chiba city. It’s a more recent reconstruction.
Kururi Castle in Kimitsu city is a rather small one. Only a 2 storey tower. It’s in the mountains, and little remains of the original castle. It’s a reconstruction.
Sekiyado Castle is a 1995 reconstruction in Sekiyado. It’s not an accurate reconstruction, nor is it in the original location.
Tateyama Castle is a 1982 reconstruction in Tateyama. No record exists of the original plans, so it’s modeled after Inuyama Castle.
Chiba has a professional baseball team, the Chiba Lotte Marines in Chiba city. There are also two J-League soccer teams, JEF United Ichihara Chiba and Kashiwa Reysol.
Things to see and do
As Chiba is close to Tokyo, there are a lot of things to see and do. Probably the biggest attraction is Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea in Urayasu. There are some well-known beaches with resorts and surfing, such as Kujukuri Beach. One of the more interesting sites that I really want to visit is Nokogiriyama. It has a Great Buddha, Kannon, and an incredible view from a sheer cliff. It’s in Futtsu. Also places I’d like to see are Kamogawa Sea World and Narita-san Shinshouji temple.
In Chiba, I’d like to visit a few places. One of the big attractions is Kaihin-Makuhari, a city of the future. It has many things, including Chiba Marine Stadium, Makuhari Messe (a big convention centre) and very modern complex of apartments and shopping centres. The Chiba Port Tower provides a view from its observation deck. Oyumino has some good parks, including Sakura Park, Izumiya Park and the Four Season Roads. Also, the Oyumino Fireworks Festival is popular.
Ichihara is home to the Chiba Museum of Science and Industry.
In Kashiwa, there’s a lot of shopping, but also the Kashiwa Festival, which features a lot of food.
Katori has plenty to see. Katori Jingu is a well-known shrine. Suigo Sawara Aquatic Botanical Garden looks very interesting. Kampukuji seems like an interesting temple. There’s also a historic street and the Sawara Festival to see.
In Kisarazu, you can see the Kimisarazu tower at the top of Odayama in a mountain park. You can also gather shellfish.
Matsudo has a great temple called Hondouji, where you can view thousands of hydrangea, irises and maple trees. Manmanji is a big temple that looks quite nice, too.
Narita is famous for Narita Airport, the main international airport servicing the Kanto area, but it’s also got a lot of nice attractions. Of course, there’s Narita-san Shinshouji temple, which is incredibly popular and very busy around New Year’s Day. It has many important cultural treasures. You can also see the Museum of Aeronautical Science and the Chiba Prefectural Flower and Tree Center. But one thing I’d love to see is Boso no Mura, a living museum of traditional Japanese culture.
Onjuku is famous for surfing and its beach.
Sakura has some notable sites. Around the ruins of Sakura Castle are some old samurai houses. There are also several museums, most notably the National Museum of Japanese History. There’s even a Dutch windmill in the city.
As a seaside prefecture, Chiba has a lot of seafood. However, it is the biggest producer of soy sauce in Japan, and is home to Kikkoman. Chiba is also famous for futomaki, literally “fat roll.” It’s a fat sushi roll that can be quite artistic.
I’m sure there are many other places to see in Chiba, but it’s your turn to make some recommendations. Please leave a comment!