The Chiba Prefecture - A Pleasant Alternative To Tokyo, Japan

The majority of foreign travelers visiting Japan for the first time will, without a doubt, include Tokyo in their itineraries. The populous metropolis houses plenty of tourist attractions and activities that embody the history and culture of the country, guaranteeing any visitor to have a rich and pleasant experience.

However, with the growing tourism industry of Japan, anyone planning to spend their entire trip just in Tokyo may easily get frustrated with the large crowds present at every destination they go to. For those wanting to catch a break but still be exposed to various facilities representative of Japan, a trip to the neighboring prefecture, Chiba, is highly recommended.

An Overview of Chiba, Japan

The Chiba Prefecture is situated right next to Tokyo, specifically southeast of the Kanto region. The majority of its area lies within the Boso, or Boso-hanto, Peninsula, while its northern section is considered to be a part of the Kanto Plain. It is the sixth most populous prefecture of Japan and consists of 6 districts and 54 municipalities.

The Weather & Climate of Chiba, Japan

Being surrounded by the Uraga Channel, Tokyo Bay, and the Pacific Ocean, the Chiba prefecture features a moderate, oceanic climate that makes it an ideal place to visit all year round. Even the winter season provides relatively warm weather, which many tourist destinations take advantage of to attract more foreign travelers.

The southern part of the prefecture carries a warmer climate and is abundant in floriculture. During the spring season, its cities provide spectacular views of vivid blooms, which have become symbolic to the Boso Peninsula. Chiba also houses sandy beaches and marvelous mountains for tourists to explore anytime they want.

The Cities & Regions of Chiba, Japan

With an estimated total map area of 5,155 sq. km., the Chiba Prefecture is ranked 27th in terms of being the largest in Japan. It is composed of 37 cities, namely:

  1. Abiko

  2. Asahi

  3. Chiba (the capital city of the prefecture)

  4. Choshi

  5. Funabashi

  6. Futtsu

  7. Ichihara

  8. Ichikawa

  9. Inzai

  10. Isumi

  11. Kamagaya

  12. Kamogawa

  13. Kashiwa

  14. Katori

  15. Katsuura

  16. Kimitsu

  17. Kisarazu

  18. Matsudo

  19. Minamiboso

  20. Mobara

  21. Nagareyama

  22. Narashino

  23. Narita

  24. Noda

  25. Oamishirasato

  26. Sakura

  27. Sanmu

  28. Shiroi

  29. Sodegaura

  30. Sosa

  31. Tateyama

  32. Tomisato

  33. Togane

  34. Urayasu

  35. Yachimata

  36. Yachiyo

  37. Yorsukaido

Chiba, Japan also houses several towns and villages which fall under the following prefectural districts:

  1. Awa District - Kyonan
  2. Chosei District - Chonan, Chosei, Ichinomiya, Matsuzawa, Nagara, Shirako
  3. Inba District - Sakae, Shisui
  4. Isumi District - Onjuku, Otaki
  5. Katori District - Kozaki, Tako, Tonosho
  6. Sanbu District - Kujukuri, Shibayama, Yokoshibahikari

Visiting each and every place listed above is virtually impossible to do in just one trip. Furthermore, not all of them may be ideal for tourists looking for activities that fully showcase the history, culture, and natural beauty of Japan. Foreign travelers are advised to prioritize the short guide below that lists the prefecture’s main tourist areas:

Chiba Area

The Chiba Area refers to the capital city, which is approximately 40 kilometers away from central Tokyo. It consists of two urban zones located around the Chiba Station and the Makuhari New City. The Chiba Station area houses the Chiba University, numerous fashion stores, and boutiques, while the Makuhari New City area houses a baseball stadium and an outlet park, among other attractions. There is also a bay area within the capital city for tourists to enjoy.

Kujukuri/Choushi Area

The Kujukuri/Choushi Area is a beach that measures 66 kilometers in length. Its long coastline stretches from Cape Daito to Cape Gyobu and borders a portion of the Pacific Ocean. Interestingly, the beach, also known as Kujukuri-hama Beach, features a straight coastline with no reefs. As such, it is among the best places for swimming and other water sports in the prefecture.

Narita Area

The Narita Area is often the first location many foreign travelers step foot on when arriving in Japan. Other than housing the Narita International Airport and being a gateway to Japan, it also serves as the temple town for Narita-san Shinsho-Ji Temple, which dates back to 940. The area welcomes over 13 million worshippers on top of countless traveling tourists every year.

Sawara Area

The Sawara Area is located approximately 70 kilometers away from central Tokyo and is situated in the northwest section of the prefecture in the city of Katori. It borders the adjacent prefecture, Ibaraki, just opposite of the Tone-gawa River. Many of its streets and buildings have remained untouched since the Edo Period, providing a nostalgic experience to locals and foreign travelers, alike. There is also an annual festival called Ayame-matsuri Festival which showcases over a million blooming irises held from May to June.

Mt. Kano-zan Area

The Mt. Kano-zan Area refers to the central portion of the Chiba Prefecture, located towards the western end of the Boso Peninsula. It is part of the Minami Boso Quasi-National Park, which features a 380-meter high observatory that provides a panoramic view of the Tokyo Bay. Tourists can also enjoy other facilities such as an amusement park, an animal farm, and several religious structures.

Southern Boso Area

The Southern Boso Area collectively refers to the southern portions of the Chiba Prefecture and Boso Peninsula, which are part of the Minami Boso Quasi-National Park. This area includes the cities of Kamogawa, Katsuura, Minamiboso, and Tateyama. It features several sandy beaches, nature parks, flower fields, and hot springs, which make it a perfect place for tourists looking to relax and enjoy recreational activities.

Urayasu Area 

The Urayasu Area is located in the northwestern portion of the Chiba Prefecture. It houses the popular tourist destination Tokyo Disney Resort, which attracts locals and foreign travelers of all ages. Tourists coming from Tokyo can access the area by taking an 18-minute train ride to the Shin-Urayasu Station or a 13-minute train ride to the Maihama Station through the JR Keiyo Line.

Another highlight of the area is the Urayasu Heliport, which allows visitors to cruise Tokyo’s skies and enjoy the sunset from a new perspective.

Central Boso Area

The Central Boso Area is also known as the Internal Boso Area and is situated 60 kilometers southeast of Tokyo, a little off the center of the Chiba Prefecture. It offers plenty of hiking routes and natural sightseeing locations which are great for tourists traveling with family. The area is particularly stunning during spring and autumn when its wisteria and azaleas feature vivid seasonal colors.

A Guide To Exploring Chiba, Japan – Sightseeing, Caves, Temples, City Complexes, and More

The Chiba Prefecture offers a wide array of tourist attractions and activities such as natural sightseeing areas, religious structures, and commercial complexes. Some of the must-visit places recommended for visiting travelers include:

Mother Bokujo

Mother Bokujo also goes by the name Mother Farm. It houses a farm and amusement park that offers visitors with various activities cow milking, horseback riding, making butter, cycle-monorails, and go-karts. The area also features several flower fields which consist of more than 3 million flowers of different varieties. Crossing the farm from one end to the other usually takes about 30 minutes by foot but there are alternative ways to explore the area without walking such as taking a bus or mini tractor ride.

Address: 940-3 Tagura, Futtsu-shi, Chiba

Admission Fee: 1,500 yen per person

Kamogawa Sea World

Kamogawa Sea World is one of the best amusement parks in Japan that houses about 11,000 sea creatures of varied species. Visitors may catch charming shows by the marine animals, come into contact with them, or simply watch them go about their day in their closely replicated natural habitats. Tourists may also enjoy a nice meal at the park’s restaurant, which provides a view of killer whales swimming past the establishment.

Address: 1464-18 Higashi-cho, Kamogawa City, Chiba

Admission Fee: 2,800 yen per person (for adults); 1,400 yen per person (for children); 1,960 yen per person (for people aged 65 years or older)

Shinsho-Ji Temple

The Shinsho-Ji Temple was established during the mid-10th century in honor of the god of fire, Fudomyo-o. In the Shingon sect of Buddhism, fire symbolizes several things such as wisdom and protection.

The halls of the temple which enshrine the image of the historical Buddha known as Shakyamuni and the principal image of Buddha known as Dainichi-Nyorai are included in the Important Cultural Properties of Japan. Its other structures such as the three-storied pagoda and temple gate have also been designated as Important Cultural Properties.

Address: 1 Narita, Narita-shi, Chiba

Nihon-Ji Temple

Nihon-Ji Temple is a Zen Buddhist temple situated on Nokogiri Yama or Saw Mountain. It was established in 725 by Emperor Shomu and has housed some of Japan’s famous monks such as Jikaku, Kukai, and Ryoben.

The entire vicinity of the temple grounds measures 330,000 sq. m. in area and features interesting structures, historic buildings, and rare plants. Near the top of the mountain, tourists may enjoy a view of the entire Kanto region from an observatory known as Jigokunozoki, which means “looking into hell” in English. There is also a glass-walled restaurant near Jigokunozoki for travelers to enjoy a pleasant meal amidst a panoramic view of the natural scenery.

Address: Nokogiriyama, Awa-gun Kyonan-machi, Chiba

Makuhari Messe

The Makuhari Messe is Japan’s first convention center that dates back to the year 1989. It is situated on a 210,000 sq. m. site that features four buildings, two of which are referred to as International Exhibition Halls, while the other two are known as the Event Hall and the International Conference Hall.

The convention center is known for hosting world-class events such as the Tokyo Auto Salon and the Tokyo Game Show. It is equipped with various facilities such as ATMs, shops, restaurants, fax machines, and coin-operated lockers. There are numerous events scheduled throughout the year but tourists may also visit the facility on other days to simply appreciate its architectural design.

Address: 2-1 Nakase, Mihama-Ku, Chiba City, Chiba

National Museum of Japanese History

The National Museum of Japanese History, or also known as Kokuritsu Rekishi Minzoku Hakubutsukan by the locals, houses an extensive collection of historical artifacts, including several which have been designated as Important Cultural Properties and National Treasures of Japan. The museum stands on a 130,000 sq. m. space and occupies a total of 35,000 sq. m.

A Useful Plants Garden is situated outside the museum where guests may learn about different plants that have been used for food, papermaking, medicine, and other purposes throughout the centuries.

Address: 117 Jonai-machi, Sakura-shi, Chiba

Admission Fee: 420 yen per person

The Stage Set & Design Centre of NNTT

The New National Theatre, Tokyo (NNTT) has a Stage Set & Design Centre located in Choshi, Chiba that manages and maintains the costumes and props used for the performances it hosts. There is an art workshop within the vicinity where productions items are made and repaired, as well as an archives building where tourists may view themed exhibitions.

The center also holds concerts and NNT performance viewings throughout the year. It is open every day except Mondays from 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM.

Address: 1-1044 Toyosatodai, Choshi-shi, Chiba

Admission Fee: 210 yen per person

Chiba Kenritsu Bijutsukan

The Chiba Kenritsu Bijutsukan is an art museum that separates itself from the rest by providing guests with a People’s Art Studio that strives to help the community see, talk, and create what they want. The studio offers several artistic materials and hosts workshops such as metalwork, Western-style painting, and Japanese-style painting.

Some of the artworks showcased by the museum include those done by Chu Asai, Shinobu Tsuda, and Hostuma Katori, all of which have made great contributions to the industrials arts development of modern Japan.

Address: 1-10-1 Chuo-ko, Chuo-ku, Chiba-shi, Chiba

Admission Fee: 300 yen per person

Resorts, Inns, and Hotels in Chiba, Japan

A trip to the Chiba Prefecture deserves more than one day to be fully enjoyed and appreciated in its entirety. With the numerous accommodations available in the area, tourists will not have a hard time looking for a place to rent out that would fit their budget and preferences:

  • Taiyo no Sato (Choshi City) – a high-end ryokan (Japanese inn) that offers fine seafood dishes and private baths

  • Reef Break Resort (Isumi City) – a beach resort that offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean

  • Resort in Shirahama (Minamiboso City) – a budget hotel ideal for tourists with pets

  • Hotel Nankaiso (Minamiboso City) – a hotel with 99 ocean view rooms that feature Japanese and Western-style designs

  • Hilton Tokyo Narita Airport Hotel (Narita City) – a hotel located right in front of the Narita International Airport

  • HOTEL MYSTAYS Maihama (Urayasu City) – a hotel conveniently located near Disneyland, DisneySea, and Tokyo

By Train

  • Local Train

Local trains from Tokyo and the Boso Peninsula are available through the JR Uchibo Line or JR Sotobo Line. A one-way trip costs 1,300-2,500 yen per person and takes about 90 minutes from end to end.

  • Limited Express Train

Limited express trains are available at the JR Wakashio and JR Sazanami lines. A one-way trip costs 2,500-4,000 yen and takes about an hour or two, depending on where one plans to disembark.

By Bus

There are highway buses that travel to different sections of the Boso Peninsula, such as Kamogawa and Tateyama, available at the Tokyo Station. These bus rides cost around 2,500 yen per way and take about 2 hours or travel time to reach the destination.

Tourists coming from the Haneda Airport may also take a bus ride to the Boso Peninsula through the Tokyo Bay Aqua Line Expressway. These buses offer direct trips to Kisarazu and Tateyama for 1,230-2,250 yen per way.

By Ferry

The Boso Peninsula can be reached through the Tokyo Bay Ferry, which connects the Kurihama (Mura Peninsula) and Kanaya (Boso Peninsula) areas. A one-way trip costs 720 yen per person and takes 40-60 minutes to make the crossing. Regular-sized cars are subject to a charge of 4,000 yen.