It’s quite easy to knock Chiba but I will always have a strong affection for the place as its where my Japan adventure began all those years ago in a small apartment in Matsudo-shi. As transport links to Tokyo are good, the northern end of Chiba in particular is basically just an extension of the capital cities grey looking residential area whilst the southern end is a bit more countryside.
Here then, in no particular order, are the Tokyo Fox top ten things to do in Chiba featuring a mix of famous sights and some hidden gems too.
1. Nokogiri-yama – This place featured in a ‘Top Gear‘ special and offers a great break from the concrete jungle with its fine mountain views of the surrounding green hills as well as Japan’s largest Buddha statue below. More details here.
2. Onjuku beach – Beautiful 2km long white sandy beach (below) amid green hills with a statue of two camels carrying a Prince and Princess which is something to do with a childrens song inspired by this place. More details here.
3. Summer Sonic – As true an urban festival as you can get with the stages based at the baseball stadium (below) and inside Makuhari Messe located across the highway. This two-day festival, which takes place in August each year, is all about the music and is the far easier option than the more ‘cool’ Fuji Rock Festival. More details here.
4. Chiba-jo castle – There’s a castle in Chiba?! Indeed there is (below) and it doubles up as the Chiba Folk Museum. Sitting on a hilltop this picturesque place is a reconstruction designed to house the museum in 1967. Entry is a whopping 60 yen and on the second Saturday of each month you can try on kimono and samurai armour from hundreds of years ago. More details here.
5. Narita-san Shinsho-ji – There’s far more to Narita than the Airport and this impressive temple complex (below) proves it. A pleasant downhill street lined with restaurants and shops leads you to the towns major (only?) sight. More details here.
6. Hadaka Matsuri – Quirky Japanese festival (below) which involves men in loincloths carrying newborn babies into a roped-off muddy swamp area where they then make a mark on their head in mud. It usually takes place in February at Mimusubi Shrine in Yotsukaido and also includes some kind of mud wrestling game. More details here.
7. Chiba Lotte Marines stadium – This stadium may host the aforementioned Summer Sonic festival every year but it’s regular role is as home to Chiba Lotte Marines baseball team in the Pacific League (below). Even if you don’t like the sport it’s still an interesting experience for the cute “beer girls” running up and down the stands keeping thirsty spectators happy! More details here.
8. Ichikawa Zoo – Get that hands-on-experience at this relatively small zoo (below) and ride on a mini Shinkansen (bullet train). The otters are very cute and other animals to be seen include lesser panda’s, orang-utans, monkeys and lots of farm animals. More details here.
9. Watch Kashiwa Reysol play – The 2011 J League Division 1 Champions (below) are a way better side than when I used to go and watch them. They play their games at the Hitachi Stadium or Kashiwa-noha park. More details here.
10. Disneyland & DisneySea – I desperately tried not to include these most famous of sights (below) but there’s no getting over that they can be a fun day or two out and can offer a good insight into the mindset of many Japanese people who absolutely love Disney and lap up the chance to be taken to this magical world. More details here.
Bonus: Narita Airport – Oh alright, maybe one of the best things to come out of Chiba is the international airport (below) ………..taking you to far more interesting sights!! More details here.
Honorary mentions go to Kujukurihama, Sakara, Kamogawa Sea Paradise, Nakayama Keibajo, Mother Farm, Ichihara Zo and Tokyo Bay LaLaPort
Click here to see the top 10 Saitama Sights
Click here to see the Top 10 Kanagawa Sights
Click here to see the Top 10 day trips beyond Kanagawa, Saitama & Chiba