Approx. 45 min. from Narita Airport! Let us introduce the charm of Sawara, where the historic townscape has been preserved! 【Sawara Special 1】

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Written by Editorial department

One of the pleasures when visiting Japan is going to places where visitors can feel Japanese history and culture. However, if such places are located far away from the airport or the city center, it’s difficult to fit them into the schedule. Moreover, if only small historic sites are left in a corner of a town, visitors are not satisfied, either. If you’re in such a situation, why don’t you visit Sawara? It can be reached approx. 45 minutes by train from JR Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station. Being very conveniently located, Sawara can also be reached approx. 90 minutes by a highway bus departing from Tokyo Station Yaesu Exit. The town offers various attractions such as a historic townscape, gourmet and other experiences which can only be made there. This article is the first of a series of 4 articles in which the charms of Sawara are introduced in detail.

What kind of town is Koedo (Little Edo) Sawara?

Located in Katori City in the Chiba Prefecture next to Tokyo, the town flourished so much by using the Ono and the Tone Rivers as water transportation that it is also referred to as “Koedo” (Little Edo) (Edo was the center of former Japan, the place of present-day Tokyo; “Koedo” is an expression coined from this name). Sawara’s atmospheric townscape which reflects a unique refinement of the Edo culture has been preserved until today. It has also been attracting attention from abroad, for example by being mentioned in the Michelin Green Guide. The town is full of spots which will make you instinctively take out your camera!

Appeal① The townscape of Little Edo
The area along the Ono River in SAWARA is popular place to get a glimpse of what the town looked like in the Edo period. This is the first area in the Kanto region that was selected as an Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings, and is lined with historic buildings that have been designated as cultural properties by Chiba Prefecture.

Appeal② Delicious foods made with local ingredients from Katori City
A variety of foods, made with particular care to use local ingredients produced in Katori City, will satisfy the gourmand in you. You can enjoy a variety of food-from Japanese to Italian cuisine, as well as sweets such as soy sauce gelato and sweet potato jelly-cake that can only be enjoyed in Sawara.

Appeal③ Experience boating and cycling
A great way to see the historic landscape of SAWARA is by boat or rented bicycle. Ride a boat and enjoy a leisurely cruise along the Ono River, or go cycling if you want to see all that SAWARA has to offer.

Appeal④ Grand Festival of Sawara and the Suigo Sawara Iris Festival
The Grand Festival of Sawara is designated as a National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property, and features floats with some of the largest figurines in Japan being paraded along the streets. The Suigo Sawara Iris Festival is when visitors will find irises blooming everywhere in a garden that boasts of having the most varieties of irises in the Asian region. Both of these popular events attract visitors from afar.

【Grand Festival of Sawara (summer and autumn)】
The Grand Festival of Sawara, held at Yasaka Shrine in the summer and the Suwa Shrine in autumn, has a 300 year history. The float carries figurines that have a maximum height of about 5 meters, which are some of the highest in Japan, and is not to be missed.

▼Summer Festival
Place:Yasaka Shrine: 3360, I, Sawara, Katori City
Date:Fri., Sat. & Sun. after Jul. 10

▼Autumn Festival
Place:Suwa Shrine: 1020, I, Sawara, Katori City
Date:Second Fri., Sat. & Sun. in Oct

See below if you’d like to watch a video of the Grand Festival of Sawara.

【水郷佐原山車会館 (Suigo Sawara Dashi Kaikan)】
This museum provides an informative presentation on the 300 year history and culture of the Grand Festival of Sawara, which is also designated as a National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property.

Address:3368, I, Sawara, Katori City, Chiba Prefecture
Business hours:9:00-16:30
Closed:Mon. (Open if Mon. is a holiday), year-end and New Year holidays

【水郷佐原あやめ祭り (Suigo Sawara Iris Festival)】
The Iris Festival is held at the time when 1.5 million irises numbering 400 varieties, the highest number of varieties gathered in one place within the Asian region, come into full bloom. During the festival period, boats also take visitors on a cruise of the area.

Address:Suigo Sawara Aquatic Botanical Garden 1837-2 Ogishima, Katori City, Chiba Prefecture
Time Period:End of May to the end of June
Business hours:9:00-16:30

Appeal⑤ A special experience in SAWARA
Let us introduce two facilities where visitors can make experiences distinctive of Sawara.

【井上美容室 (Inoue Biyoushitsu)】
You can experience wearing a kimono from a selection of 50 designs and also have your hair arranged Japanese style. You’ll feel like a real Japanese lady walking through the town in traditional dress.

Address:509-5, I, Sawara, Katori City, Chiba Prefecture
Business hours:9:00-17:00
Price:¥6,000 (Includes rental kimono, fitting, and hair arrangements)
Credit cards accepted:American Express / Diners / MasterCard / JCB / Visa
※Reservations required

【東薫酒造 (Toukun Shuzo)】
Free tours are being offered at a sake brewery. You can try the sake for free after the tour. There is also a shop next to the brewery that not only sells sake but other souvenirs as well.

Address:627, I, Sawara, Katori City, Chiba Prefecture
Business hours:10:00-16:00
Closed:Open 365 days
信用卡:American Express / Diners / MasterCard / JCB / Visa / UnionPay
※These times do not apply if you have a reservation (Preference given to those with reservations)

These are the many appeals of Sawara! Please check the access information below and go for a visit!

◆ Approx. 45 minutes by train from Narita Airport. One-way trip adult:¥670
Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station (JR Narita Line Rapid Service) ⇒ Narita Station(JR Narita Line)⇒ Sawara Station

◆ Approx. 90 minutes by highway bus from Tokyo Station Yaesu Exit. One-way trip adult:¥1,750
Bus stop in front of Tokyo Station Yaesu Exit (Chiba Kotsu Highway Bus, Choshi-Tokyo Route)⇒ Sawara North Exit

◆ Approx. 135 minutes by train and bus from Haneda Airport. One-way trip adult:¥2,400
Haneda Airport International Terminal Station (Tokyo Monorail) ⇒ Hamamatsucho Station (JR Yamanote Line) ⇒ Bus stop in front of Tokyo Station Yaesu Exit(Chiba Kotsu Highway Bus, Choshi-Tokyo Route)⇒ Sawara North Exit