Chiba lies on the eastern outskirts of Tokyo, but it’s more than just the suburbs of the metropolitan region or the location of Narita International Airport. Since you will most likely be accessing Tokyo from Narita, you might as well do some exploring while you’re at it! The prefecture and main city of the same name has a flair all its own. Bountiful excursions, vast greenery, and a great list of other amusements and food await you in Chiba.
The Best Attractions
Disneyland – Tokyo Disney is actually in Chiba Prefecture. Worthy of a day trip on the off-season (lines are impossibly long during the summer months), you can experience a whole new side of Disney and the characters that you love. Accommodations around the area are a special form of entertainment, because most offer excursions, succulent dining options and amazing play areas for kids of all ages.
Kikkoman Soy Sauce Museum – Don’t know about you, but this traveler loves soy sauce. Especially the Kikkoman kind. The brand has been brewing up the good stuff since the 17th century in Chiba Prefecture. While it’s not exactly in the city, you don’t want to miss this amazing testament to the staple sushi condiment.
Chiba Castle Ruins – Probably one of the coolest historical plots in the city, the castle rises proudly towards the sky. Because the area is not really big or played up, you can expect a quiet adventure. Inside the castle is a small museum about the samurai, some artefacts about the castle, dress-up photographs and a lookout from the top floor.
Address: 〒260-0856 Chiba-ken, Chiba-shi, Chuo-ku, Inohana 1-6-1
Natural History Museum and Institute and Aobanomori Park – Since these two places are located right on top of one another, it’d be silly to miss one of them. In fact, seeing the museum highlights the exquisite stroll through the ecology park afterwards. About the museum, you will find the exterior just as interesting as in the exhibitions inside. There are fossils, artwork and other temporary attractions to stimulate your mind. Most displays also have English explanations.
Chiba Park – About a 40 minute walk north of Chiba Castle or 10 minutes from the JR Station, this park boasts some of the best seasonal colors in the Kanto region. The flowers in the pond are especially breath-taking, making for a wonderful backdrop to a lunchtime picnic. Or you can rent a canoe to row around the lake and take in the blossoming cherry trees during springtime. There is also a traditional Japanese teahouse there if you would like that experience.
The Boso Peninsula – Though not technically located in Chiba city but at the very most southern point of the prefecture, this is one place that is worth the visit just because it is so beautiful. In fact, it’s a favorite for Japanese and foreign visitors due to its proximity to Tokyo, ease of access and abundance of picturesque scenery.
Nokogiri-yama: Also called “Sawtooth Mountain,” this is one peak you will not forget. Across the face of the mountain is evidence of the stonecutters that once lived there. You can follow various hiking trails or ride the ropeway to the top. There’s also the famous Jigokunozoki, or Hell Watch, a preserved quarry and the oldest stone carved Buddha at Nihon-ji Temple.
Website for Sawtooth Mountain: http://www.mustlovejapan.com/subject/nokogiri_yama/
Mantokuji Temple and the Nirvana Statue: Located south of Tateyama, about a 30 minute train ride south of Chiba city, is a stunning example of artistic design. Not only is the temple itself a historic visit, you can see the longest Gandhara-styled Buddha in Asia. While you are there, don’t forget to rub his feet for good luck and safe travels!
The Best Food
Chiba’s not as international as Tokyo, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find something for every palate!
Roti’s House Harvest moon Brewery – Call it the adult side of Disney, this restaurant located at Disney Resort is special because of the homemade beer. Seasonal blends are always on tap, as well as some of the best crafted blends around. The female brewmaster, Sonoda Tomoko, is usually on site. After dining in style, you can even tour the facilities to see where the magic is made.
PANTRY COYOTE – Craving a juicy burger, American-style? Head over to PANTRY COYOTE, where you belly and wallet will be full upon leaving. The burgers are huge (as in good-luck-getting-eat-that huge), the salads are fresh, and the onion rings are just sublime. As for the interior? It’s eclectic, small but cozy, making this location the perfect place for a quick bite to eat.
Address: Chiba-ken, Chiba, Chuo-ku, Chuo 3-11-11, a short walk from Yoshikawakoen Station.
EST! Prossimo – You will have a hard time believing you’re still in Japan when you enter this establishment. The Italian cooking is very authentic; and the presentation? Prize worthy. From fresh salads, handmade pasta, generous portions, decadent desserts and superbly crafted spirits, you will definitely have something to take home with you.
Address: Chiba-ken, Chiba, Chuo-ku, Shinmachi 22-3
Koimen Kurage – One of the best ramen joints in Chiba! You can find this place south east of Chiba park, right by the Sobu Main Line tracks. The noodles are luscious. The broth, sensuous and silky. Toppings are simple up really bring out the light flavour of the noodles. You cannot go wrong here.
Social Media: https://twitter.com/koimen_kurage
Address: Chiba-ken, Chiba, Chuo-ku, Kanamecho 1-4
Look for 濃麺海月 written in white lettering on a blue sign.