What to Expect
This tour would be perfect for tourists who are interested in traditional Japanese culture derived from Samurai warrior's culture and lifestyles.
And also, you join the tea gathering held on every Sunday in "三逕亭 Sankei-tei",where you can have a bowl of powered green tea served sincerely by the Kimono wearing local tea master!!
Additionally,its locational advantage(60 minutes from Tokyo and 30 minutes to Narita airport by train) makes easier for many tourists to use the available time effectively.
SAKURA city located in Hokuso District,the northeastern region of Chiba Prefecture,is designated as ”Japan Heritage” along with other three cities of this district.
The title of ”Japan Heritage” is granted by Agency for Cultural Affairs to the quality of a consistent story narrating the Japan’s culture and tradition finely studded with the historic charm and character of each locality.(Titled:"Edo-Era Travelogue of Four Hokuso cities;an excursion around Edo towns,with traditional townscape filled with the nostalgic air of Edo(old Tokyo)")
The specific reason for the designation is that Four Hokuso cities including SAKURA used to support Edo, a big city with a population of over one million by sending a broad range of things necessary for daily life for Edo and even now have preserved a number of traditional views of landscape and townscape, which the visitors from Edo used to frequent to see. (Unlike Tokyo, these local towns didn't suffer major damage from air raids during World War Ⅱ.)
Particularly,SAKURA is a castle town that flourished as a strategic point to protect the east of Edo and still have preserved a remnant of Samurai town!! We invite you to slip back in time to the Edo Period(1603～1868) in this local town abounds in rich nature around Inba lake.
Starting from Narita area(airport,station,your hotel,etc),we're going to JR SAKURA Station by train.(28min. from Narita Airport station to SAKURA station)
This walking tour of the following 4 highlights starts from JR SAKURA station!!
Firstly,you'll visit "Samurai retainer's residential quarter".
There are three old Samurai Houses(※) along the main street(named Samurai Houses Street) of the quarter, surrounded by high walls and quick hedges, where you can feel the nostalgic air of Samurai-era. These well preserved residences were built in the later half of Edo Period where some samurai of SAKURA clan(samurai retainer) really used to live. These rarely seen Samurai Houses still remaining and open to the public definitely expose you to the samurai's life style!!
(※)This group of Samurai Houses is the one of the cultural properties that make up the Japan Heritage titled "Edo-Era Travelogue of Four Hokuso cities' traditional townscape filled with the nostalgic air of Edo"
Secondly,you'll visit "SAKURA Castle Ruins Park".
This expansive and beautiful park is set amidst the ruins of SAKURA Castle(※) used to serve as a strategic point to protect the east of Edo from 1617 to 1868. There's little left of the original castle, but there still remain the ruins of the fortifications such as defensive mounds,dry moats, water-filled moats and rarely seen large-sized "馬出し空堀Umadashi-karabori”or a type of dry moat demarcated an enclosure(bailey) along with earthen embankments(ramparts). The enclosure served as a hidden entranceway(more likely a carriage porch space) for samurai on horseback!!
Tha can feel the nostalgic air of samurai-era here!!
(※)This group of the ruins is also the one of the cultural properties that make up the Japan Heritage.
Thirdly,you’ll visit a municipal-owned tea ceremony house named Sankei-tei located in SAKURA Castle Ruins Park, where you can have a refreshing bowl of matcha powered green tea with a wagashi Japanese sweet served by the Kimono wearing local tea master!! By observing the highly artistic procedure of making tea, you’ll see how tea ceremony is performed, and how great-tasting green tea is made.(See the video of the actual footage!!)
Additionally,this interesting event hosted by the locals as volunteer activity is open to everybody for a small fee!!(for only 400yen/person: as cost for a bowl of tea)
The tea ceremony house of Sankei-tei was originally built in 1954 at Nogi Shrine(noted for its enshrined deity of General Nogi Maresuke)in Tokyo,being modeled on a tea room named Bosen, which is a national important cultural property in Koho-an sub-temple of world famous Daitoku-ji temple in Kyoto.
SAKURA city received the tea room from Nogi Shrine and brought it to SAKURA city to be reconstructed at the current location in 1983.
Moreover,Sankei-tei has beautiful tea garden!! You’ll be completely immersed in the traditional atmosphere of Japan!!
Lastly, the tour of "the National Museum of Japanese History(known popularly in Japanese as REKIHAKU)"
The REKIHAKU located in the park,which is Japan's only nationally operated and the largest museum of history and folklore,houses and displays some 230,000 artifacts of historical importance and cultural value that together help to tell the story of Japan's past!!(Its exhibits cover age periods from ancient to modern times,visually presenting the various moments of history,and scenes of everyday popular life.(※) )
In developing its galleries,REKIHAKU has endeavored to produce concrete,visual exhibits that facilitate an understanding of Japanese history and culture,relying on both the numerous authentic artifacts in its collection, and faithfully reproduced replicas and scale models based on academic validations.
At the end of REKIHAKU tour, you can drop by the museum store, where research bulletins, exhibition catalogues, and other REKIHAKU publications including visitor's guide book(summary of all the Galleries of this museum written in English) are available for purchase. Also available are picture postcards of museum artifacts,a variety of handicrafts, and an extensive collection of museum catalogues from around Japan!!
That's why I'm sure that you can most easily deepen your understanding on Japanese history and folklore through this exciting REKIHAKU tour!!
(※)The permanent exhibitions span six galleries from prehistoric to modern times, but only the first gallery(Paleolithic age～8th century) is currently closed for refurbishment.
This interesting tour set in both rarely seen historic sites and the best museum of history will make you immerse in a atmosphere of old times!!
After the museum tour,we’ll go back to the Ending Point of the JR SAKURA station by walking or route bus. (depending on your physical condition)
Incidentally,you can take a bath to wash away the sweat due to the walking tour in the natural hot spring named "You-Paradise SAKURA" located a 1 minute walk from the JR SAKURA Station if you have a time!!
And also,if you would like to try open air hot spring, you can enjoy Onsen bathing in SAKURA ONSEN located 10 minutes drive of the station.(Free shuttle bus service for visitors is available from the station)