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15 Fun, Exciting Things to Do in Chiba

Nature

15. Hike Up Mount Nokogiri [Nokogiri yama 鋸山] for a “Peek into Hell”

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Mount Nokogiri, a mountain on the west coast of the Boso Peninsula, offers up one of Kanto’s oldest temples and stunning views, especially from the so-called “peek into hell” [jigoku nozoki 地獄覗き]. Nihon-ji Temple, a large complex on the slopes which was established in 725, houses a daibutsu [large Buddha statue] as well as 1500 smaller statues of Buddhist disciples along the walking paths. The “Peek into Hell,” boasts spectacular scenery of Tokyo Bay and the Peninsula from a singular craggy peak. A must see!

14. Watch Dolphins and Whales Offshore of Choshi [銚子市]

Photo by Vladimir Lysenko (I.) on Wikimedia Commons.

Close enough for a day trip from Tokyo, about two hours by limited express train, Choshi is an area known for its abundant marine life and Port Tower observatory with stellar views of the vast expanse of Pacific Ocean. Unlike other dolphin and whale watching locations in Japan, you can see these majestic creatures in the wild all year long in Choshi on the specially commissioned boat, “Flipper,” which has safely been carrying whale and dolphin watchers since 2002. In the springtime, in particular, schools of 5000 dolphins, representing six different types of iruka [dolphins], can be viewed in their natural habitat.

13. Enjoy the Stunning Fall Foliage at Awamata Waterfall [Awamata no Taki 泡股の滝]

Photo by Abasaa on Wikimedia Commons.

Awamata Waterfall, known for its crystal-clear waters, is the tallest waterfall in the Boso Peninsula, which makes up the majority of Chiba prefecture. Located at the Yoro Canyon, this 30-meter waterfall looks its most impressive in the autumn, from the end of November to the start of December especially, when it is surrounded by beautiful fall colors. Of particular note is the stair-like rocks which make up the waterfall and allow the water to splash out into a unique fan-shape. Yet another reason to bring your hiking gear to Chiba!

12. Catch a Wave at the Kujukurihama Coast [九十九里浜]

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Famous as one of Japan’s top surfing areas, the Kujukurihama Coast, on the east of the Boso Peninsula, offers many sandy and pristine beaches for water sporting and exploration. Ichinomiya Beach [一宮海水浴場], in particular, is one of the most popular surfing destinations accessible to beginners, offering rental equipment and refreshments near a relaxed local town with a surf vibe. Tsurigasaki Beach [釣ヶ崎海岸], also a surfing haven, and the site of the future Olympic surfing competition, offers waves more suitable for experienced surfers.

Attractions/Amusements

11. Visit the Happiest Place in Japan: Tokyo DisneyLand 

Photo by 肖红军 on Wikimedia Commons.

Fans of Mickey Mouse, Peter Pan, and Snow White should definitely make Tokyo Disneyland a must-see on their Chiba adventure. Holding the honor of being the first Disneyland constructed outside of the United States in 1983, Tokyo Disneyland captures the magic that has captivated millions globally in its seven themed zones: Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Westernland, Critter Country, Mickey's Toonhouse, and the World Bazaar. Accessible by Maihama and Tokyo Disneyland Stations, this third most-visited theme park in the world (only behind the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Park) is sure to dazzle adults and children alike!

10. View over 800 Varieties of Sea Creatures at Kamogawa Sea World

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Kamogawa Sea World is an aquarium and marine life resort park facing the Pacific Ocean which was founded in 1970. Live performances by orcas, beluga whales, dolphins, and sea lions, as well as many interactive opportunities, are especially popular here. Equipped with its own hotel and sixteen separate areas to meet and view aquatic creatures, such as Polar Adventure featuring penguins; Rocky World featuring sea lions and walruses; and Tropical Island featuring sharks, rays, and sea turtles, Sea World can host you for a whole weekend while being also accessible as a two-hour day trip from Tokyo. 

Gourmet

9. Eat Fresh Kaisen-don at Choshi Port

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In the past few years, Choshi Port has reported the highest catches of seafood of anywhere in Japan! As such, their kaisen don [海鮮丼 seafood topped rice bowl] is the stuff of legends, with a dazzling variety of the freshest fish around, from madai [red sea bream] to maguro [tuna]. In the area surrounding the port, you can find a kaisen don to meet everyone’s needs, from extra large portion sizes to unbeatable prices. A very famous and delicious teishoku [set meal] restaurant with great prices (that opens at 8 am!) is Hama-Meshi [浜めし]. Pop in if you make it to Choshi!

8. Pick Beautiful Greenhouse-Grown Strawberries in Sammu City [山武市]

Photo by Joi Ito on Wikimedia Commons.

Chiba is home to many of Japan’s sweetest and more delicious strawberries. Since strawberries in Japan are grown in greenhouses from December until May, strawberry picking is a delightful activity regardless of the weather. An ideal place to pick strawberries is the so-called Strawberry Road in Sammu City, run by the Sammu Naruto Strawberry Trust Association with 20 participating farms, the largest concentrated area of strawberry cultivation in the Kanto region. Stop by for a 40 minute all-you-can-pick (and eat!) adventure!

7. Dig for Clams at Kaneda Beach [Kaneda kaigan 金田海岸] from April to July

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Perhaps the most famous area within reach of Tokyo for asari clam digging is Kisarazu City [木更津市], where the clamming season is open from March to July. In Kisarazu, a great beach for clam digging is Kaneda, on the grounds of the Ryugujo Spa Hotel Mikazuki. You can rent all your equipment, such as the nets, on-site for a nominal fee and adults can dig up to 2 kg per person for only ¥1800. For an added bonus, you can clean up and relax in the hotel’s onsen and spa after working for your supper!

6. Savor Delicious Grilled Eel in Narita City [成田市]

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Since the Edo period, visitors to the Narita City have been welcomed with grilled eel [unagi うなぎ] and summer is the best time to try it. While there are many eel restaurants in Narita, the most popular ones are located around Narita-san Shinsho-ji. In the summer, the city even holds an Eel Matsuri (festival) where 100 participating restaurants offer stamps after you spend more than ¥1000 which buy you tickets in a raffle to win prizes. Kawatoyo, founded in 1910, said to be the oldest unagi restaurant in Narita, and serves up fantastic eel if you don’t mind waiting in line for it!

Shrines/Temples/Festivals

5. Explore the Expansive Gardens and Temple at Narita-san Shinsho-ji [成田山新勝寺]

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While in Narita City, the quintessential tourist attraction is undoubtedly Narita-san Shinsho-ji, a temple with some of the most extensive grounds in all of Japan. While the temple was founded in 940, the oldest building still standing on the grounds is from 1701 while four others have also been designated as Important Cultural Properties. In the 1700s, during the Edo period, a famous image carving from 810, housed in Narita-san, was brought into Edo (modern day Tokyo) and the story was turned into a wildly popular kabuki play. As such, Narita-san’s grounds still retain the flavour of the Edo period and its entertainment. Come and enjoy this rich history in the beautifully maintained grounds. 

4. Pay Your Respects to the Largest Reclined Buddha in Eastern Japan

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Nestled among the lush forests and towering bamboo of the Jyourakusan Mantoku-ji [常楽山萬徳寺] temple just off of Tateyama, Chiba's Route 410, lies a reclining Buddha statue measuring sixteen meters wide and weighing over thirty tons. Capturing in bronze the moment the Buddha entered Nirvana, the highest state of consciousness in Buddhism, this statue offers both a moment to enjoy Chiba's beautiful natural scenery and an opportunity to marvel at the largest lying Buddha statue in Eastern Japan. Be sure to take the time to walk the length of the statue and end up at its feet upon which visitors often place their hands and forehead as a sign of worship. 

3. Observe the Parade of Richly Decorated Floats in the Narita Gion Festival

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One of the largest festivals at Narita-san and a major matsuri in Kanto attracting over 400,000 people per year is the 300-year-old Gion-e. In this matsuri, which takes place in early July and lasts three days, the area in front of the Great Hall becomes a grand stage for ceremonial dances. Next, a portable shrine from Narita-san itself as well as ten other floats from the surrounding cities are carried through the streets and omotesando leading from the temple to much fanfare. Come join the festive atmosphere during the day and marvel at the illumination at night, when the floats are gathered and lit up near the temple’s entrance. 

History/Culture

2. Learn About One of Japan’s Leading Shoyu Makers at the Kikkoman Soy Sauce Museum 

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Almost sixty years after its debut in 1961, the iconic Kikkoman soy sauce bottle now calls restaurant tabletops in over one hundred countries around the world home. Fans and soon-to-be-fans alike can become seasoned experts on this impressive product at the Kikkoman Soy Sauce Museum, a complex that is equal parts history lesson, science center, cooking class, and production house. With reservations, you can even secure a factory tour to learn more about the steps in soy sauce production, such as koji culturing and fermentation. After touring this site in Noda City, the so-called "City of Soy Sauce", visitors will never look at another bottle of Kikkoman in the same way again. 

1. Step Into the Life and Gardens of Japan's Past at the National Museum of Japanese History

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Located in Sakura City, the National Museum of Japanese History [kokuritsu rekishi minzoku hakubutsukan 国立歴史民俗博物館] is a government-run history museum which follows the development of Japanese peoples and cultures from the prehistoric period to The Bubble era. With seven permanent exhibitions on a variety of themes such as "Folk Cultures of the Japanese Archipelago" and "The Postwar Lifestyle Revolution", this museum displays Japanese cultural history in an attractive and engaging way, following the most recent historical research. Make sure you also visit the nearby Botanical Gardens, a unique collection which focuses on plants that have a long history of use in Japan, such as for foods and textiles.

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