10 Places to visit in Chiba Prefecture – Chiba prefecture is in the Kanto region of Japan, sitting east to Tokyo. Despite being the first to greet most tourists, as home to Japan’s most popular international airport, Chiba is often overshadowed by the country’s capital. It may be wise, however, to plan a quick pitstop in Chiba as it has a large variety of fun, cultural and unusual places to visit. Here’s just a snippet of what you could expect to find there, 10 things to do in Chiba:
1. Disney Resort
That’s right, Tokyo Disney Resort is located in Urayasu, Chiba. The resort offers all the usual magical delights of Disneyland and is home to the world’s only DisneySea.
DisneySea was officially opened in 2001 and consists of seven themed ports, all inspired by nautical tales. Disney theme parks are always fantastical adventurous places for children but DisneySea is often referred to as an Adult’s Disney park with it’s intense rides, varied entertainment, array of cuisine and easy access to alcoholic beverages.
Like all Disney theme parks, it’s not a cheap day out but considering it’s a particularly unique opportunity, it may be worth budgeting into your trip.
2. Kujukurihama Beach
Long undisturbed sandy beaches are a rarity in Japan, making the pacific coast of North-East Chiba prefecture a popular destination. Kujukuri is the countries’ second longest beach at an estimated 60km and highly likely, the first glimpse you’ll get of Japan as your flight begins to descend.
The clear blue waters offer the perfect location for swimming and surfing. The area around the beach offers horseback riding, strawberry picking/eating, shrines and temples to view and cute cafes to relax in. If you are a fan of fresh fish, you may also enjoy sampling some of the beaches’ famed sardines from one of the many available restaurants.
3. ‘SawTooth’ Mountain (Nokogiriyama)
Don’t let the name scare you away as Mt. Nokogiri is one of Chiba’s most famous mountains. In the West Coast of Chiba, standing 329 meters high, the Sawtooth mountain offers a unique experience with a temple complex hosting one of Japan’s largest buddhas carved into the side of the mountain.
It is not considered a difficult hike but the top can also be easily accessed using the scenic ropeway. The peak, known as Hell Peek Point, is a cliff poking directly out from the mountain and allows a clear view downward, offering a stunning look at Tokyo Bay, even stretching as far as Mt. Fuji, with clear skies. Here, you can also find a restaurant, souvenirs and many telescopes for closer viewing.
If you’re still not sold, remember, you’d still get a cool story out of it as you can always claim you climbed the sawtooth mountain to hell and back.
4. Chiba zoological park
The Chiba Zoological Park is popular amongst locals as it is famed for Futa, the standing Red Panda, who often can be found standing on his two hind legs, pretending to be people!
If that alone isn’t worth the ¥500 admission, perhaps the well organised 7 zones of furry familiars might entice you or perhaps the opportunity to get up, close and personal with some goats, sheep and horses in the petting zoo and horse riding facilities might do the trick.
The zoo is located in Chiba city and many advise taking the monorail to access the park as you could be lucky enough to be sat in a themed carriage complete with character voiced conductors.
5. Funabashi Andersen Park
This is a favorite spot for families as it offers something for everyone, year round splash pool facilities, a giant roller slide, climbing areas, mini-train rides, boats for rent, pedal cars, a petting zoo, pony rides and colourful gardens.
H.C Andersen is a beloved Danish writer most credited for his fairy tales (The little Mermaid, Thumbelina). Funabashi happens to be a sister city to Andersen’s home city, Odense, so the park maintains a Danish style throughout, leading to a fantastically unusual experience. The entrance fee is ¥900 with children under 3, free and ¥200 for children 4 and up.
As a quick side note, a slightly similar park is available elsewhere in Chiba prefecture. In Sodegaura City, Tokyo German Village can be found. This unique park also offers an illumination that you may not want to miss.
6. Kameiwa Cave
The Kameiwa cave (A.K.A turtle rock cave) can be found in the Shimizu Keiryu Hiroba park in Kimitsu city. Although originally a man made cave, it is surrounded by undeniable natural beauty.
The cave has gained popularity on instagram for the remarkable heart shape reflection the sun can create as it shines through, often compared to certain Studio Ghibli movie scenes. The heart shape, however, can only be seen at certain times, so it’s best to plan for an early morning in March or September.
7. Katsuura morning market
One of Japan’s top three markets, Katsuura is located on the eastern side of Chiba’s prefecture’s Boso Peninsula and this history soaked, fishing town’s market offers an array of fresh fish along with over 80 stalls selling seasonal fruit and vegetables, traditional pickles, Japanese sweets and prepared dishes. There are also some unique homemade crafts, perfect to complete your souvenir collection.
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The Market is open from 6AM to 11AM everyday except Wednesdays and you may consider sticking around the area for a few hours, not only to enjoy the traditional ambience but also to sample some of Katsuura’s famous Ramen, Tatanmen, made with noodles, onions, minced meat and a dash of spice, created to keep the cold fishermen, warm.
8. Naritasan Shinshoji Temple
The Naritasan Shinshoji Temple is a popular attraction with over 10 million visitors every year. It’s popularity is highly likely due to either its close proximity to Narita Airport, it’s undeniable beauty or it’s promise to grant prayers for business and romantic success. Either way, it’s an area that’s not to be missed during your time in the Chiba prefecture.
Along with the multiple architecturally delightful holy buildings, the street leading up to the temple also offers an abundance of interesting viewing. With hundreds of souvenir shops, cool cafes and some yummy street foods, try not to miss out on sampling unaju, a special eel dish in that area.
9. Lalaport Tokyo BayIf you need to escape Japan’s rain or humidity, a day of interesting window shopping may be what you’re looking for. Lalaport offers over 400 stores ranging from fashion, home decor, beauty and character shops. You’ll also find an abundance of varied cuisines and a food court. If that still doesn’t tickle your fancy, you may also enjoy the movie theater.
I’m personally drawn to the mall as it pays particular attention to accommodating it’s furry visitors and even offers a super pet park which includes a salon, dog cafe and dog run. How cute is that?
10. Chiba Port Tower
For one last glimpse of Chiba city and a view of Tokyo Bay, the Chiba Port Tower is the perfect place to end your visit. The building’s walls are made from one-way mirrors that reflect the scenery surrounding it and the fourth floor offers a dazzling, 113 meters up, view.
It’s a particularly good place to visit with a partner, not only because of the romantic night view but the second floor is known as a holy place for couples. Traditionally, couples pray to a stone in the “promenade of love” to receive good luck, before leaving a padlock with their names locked to the fence, to make a commitment to their love.
Slowing down on your way to the big city lights, hustle and bustle of Tokyo, might greatly impact your Japanese adventure especially considering narrowing this list down to just 10 things to do in Chiba prefecture was a struggle. As everything mentioned deserves to be enjoyed fully, it might be wise to plan a few days to get the true Chiba experience.
See you again next time!