Kashiwa City, Japan: The Little Shibuya of Chiba

While the most popular place to visit in Japan is Tokyo, there are also other regions and prefectures not located within the Tokyo metropolis that one can look into. One of these regions is the Kanto region. It consists of various cities that are all quite interesting depending on one’s likes and the season. One of the many cities there that one should probably try to visit when in the region of Kanto is the city of Kashiwa.

Facts: Map, Weather, History, Hotels

More commonly known as Kashiwa-shi in Japanese, the city of Kashiwa is situated in the northwestern portion of Chiba Prefecture. With a total area of 114.72 square kilometers, which is equivalent to 44.29 square miles, Kashiwa City had an estimated population of 411,602 as of the 1st of December in the year 2015. As a result, the city had a population density of 3,590 persons per square kilometer, which is equivalent to 9,300 persons per square mile.

In the Japanese language, the name of this city can be written with only one kanji character, which is 柏. This kanji character refers to Quercus dentate. In the English language, this reference translates to the “daimyo oak.” The city is also commonly known as “Little Shibuya” because of its many shopping places perfect for shopaholics or those in need of some retail therapy.

With the coordinates of 35°52′3.3″ North and 139°58′32.7″ East, the city of Kashiwa is located in the Kanto Region. It is under the governance of Mayor Hiroyasu Akiyama since November of the year 2009. The symbols of the city include the Daimyo oak tree or Castanopsis; the Phlox subulata, Erythronium japonicum, or sunflower; and the Azure-winged magpie. The phone number of the city hall is 04-7167-1111. It is located at 5-10-1 Kashiwa, Kashiwa-shi, Chiba-ken 270-8505. The hottest month in the city is August while the coldest month is January. It experiences the most rain in the month of September.

Historically, Kashiwa was a portion of Shimosa Province. The area has been settled for so long. The area around the city served as the site of the Battle of Sakainehara in the year 1478. It was during the early parts of the Sengoku period, which lasted from the year 1467 to the year 1573. The area became tenryo territory during the Edo period. At this time, the area was under the direct control of the Tokugawa shogunate.

Horse ranches were established by the shogunate for the purpose of providing war horses for its army. With the plan of large-scale land reclamation across the country, the marshy areas of Lake Tekanuma were also drained during the Edo period, as ordered by the Tokugawa shogunate. Kashiwa underwent development to become a post station on the Mito Kaido, which served as the connection of the capital at Edo and Mito located in what is now known as Ibaraki Prefecture.

yuukokukirei [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The village of Kashiwa was first made in Chiba Prefecture on the 1st of October in the year 1889, 21 years after the Meiji Restoration in the year 1868. In the year 1896, a connection between Kashiwa and Tokyo was established by rail. Because of the rail construction during the Meiji period, the area of Kashiwa became a commercial center. Its area of Kashiwa was elevated to town status on the 15th of September in the year 1926.

Similar to a big portion of the northern Chiba Prefecture, Kashiwa was also subjected to several military installations in the 1930s, especially following the Mukden Incident in the year 1931. With the established of the Kashiwa Air Field and the Kashiwa Military Hospital by the Imperial Japanese Army, Kashiwa grew into a military town. However, the air field in Kashiwa was abandoned after the Second World War. Still, the hospital continues to operate until today as the Kashiwa Public Hospital.

Kogane Town, Tsuchi Village, and Tanaka Village were absorbed by Kashiwa and became a new city known as Tokatsu on the 1st of September in the year 1954. Unfortunately, several politicians hailing from Kogane Town were opposed to this merger until finally, it was dissolved on the 15th of October of that same year. A huge portion of the former Kogane Town merged with Matsudo City instead. Two weeks later, Fuse Village also separated from Tokatsu and merged with Abiko Town, the merger of which became the city of Abiko.

On the 15th of November in the year 1954, what remained of Tokatsu became known as Kashiwa. A little after a year from its formation, a fire broke out and destroyed the former Kashiwa City Hall. The fire also destroyed most of the city center. Thankfully, the central government designated the area of Kashiwa for reconstruction with the help of a special fund. This reconstruction included the first pedestrian decks of Japan. The reconstruction was finished at Kashiwa Station in the year 1973.

On the 1st of April in the year 2008, the area of Kashiwa was finally designated as a core city with growing local autonomy. Two years after, the population of the city actually exceeded 400,000 people. The city also serves as a regional commercial center as well as a bedroom community for Tokyo and Chiba. With a mixed industrial base, the city houses food-processing industries, which play an important role in its economy. Some production facilities in Kashiwa include Nikka Whisky Distilling, Ito Ham, and Asahi Soft Drinks.

The area also serves as the home of the professional football team Kashiwa Reysol. There are also hotels in the city of Kashiwa. This includes Crest Hotel. This hotel is close to Kashiwa Station as well as the Takashimaya Department Store.

Things to Do in Kashiwa City, Japan

Dubbed as the “Little Shibuya” of Chiba, the city of Kashiwa is well-known as a shopping area. The first department store to check out upon arriving at Kashiwa is Takashimaya. Located near Kashiwa Station, Takashimaya is a luxury department store chain. Another huge department store to check out while in the area is Sogo. It is near the east exit of the station.

One department store that would remind one of 109 in Shibuya is Vat. Brands sold in this store includes Rienda, Swordfish, Anap, Stussy, Ash & Diamonds, Rodeo Crowns, Shake Shake, Mercury Duo, Spiga, Uniqlo, Tommy Hilfiger, Egoist, and R&E shoes. For some girly shopping, one can check out Marui (0101). These are also vintage and second-hand shops in the area.

For people who want to check out some restaurants in Kashiwa, head on over to Table Beet. Located at 7-26, Chuo-chou Sakae apartment 1F, the restaurant is open from 11:30 AM until 1 AM. Only fresh organic produce is used by this restaurant, all of which are grown and picked on a daily basis from their own private farm. The price ranges from 1,000 yen to 3,000 yen.

Customers looking for a restaurant where servers speak good English should try Chaka. Located at 1-5-4, Asahi-cho, the restaurant is open from 5:30 in the afternoon until 2 in the morning. Their English-speaking services are great. Offering fusion cuisine, their dishes are reasonably priced. The restaurant also offers an extensive wine list, great for a date. The long staff also sings during birthday celebrations.

Another great option for foreign customers is The Hub. Located near the West Exit of Kashiwa Station, The Hub features big screen sports. They have an English menu for English-speaking visitors to peruse. Their staff is also very friendly and accommodating. While their drinks may be slightly expensive at 900 yen per pint, their bar food is reasonably priced.

Also a good example of a British pub is The Cavern. However, this pub comes with a twist. Its theme is “The Beatles,” with its interiors designed with the band’s memorabilia. Fans of the Fab Four would definitely love this place. The atmosphere is accentuated by the constant playing of the songs of the famous band. Visitors can request for their favorite track by filling up the forms on the table. There is, however, a seating charge in this restaurant. While the drinks offered in this pub are most certainly not cheap, the restaurant is still worth a look.

Young people looking to party can check out Warter. Located at 14-13 Okunan Bld 1F, it is the only local nightclub in the area that is always crowded on the weekends. Open from 10 in the evening until early morning the next day, the club is typically filled with young crowds looking to have a good time. Music played in this bar is typically in the hip-hop and psychedelic genre. The door charge changes depending on the event or the performers playing for that night. The drinks usually cost about 500 yen to 2,000 yen. Free shots are also sometimes available.

Checking Out Football Stadium Hitachi Kashiwa Soccer Stadium

As the home of J-league 1 professional football team Kashiwa Reysol, the city of Kashiwa also houses a well-known football stadium. The team plays their home games in two stadiums that are situated outside the center of the city. These two stadiums are the original Hitachi Stadium and the new Kashiwa No-ha Stadium. The newer stadium of the two is generally used for high profile matches while the original is used for the rest. Because the original Hitachi Stadium is smaller and contains no athletics track, it is said that this stadium provides a better atmosphere during the games.

There are bus stops that are specifically used to go to both stadiums on match days. The bus stop located on the West side of the station leaves for Kashiwa No-ha Stadium while the bus stop located on the East side of the station leaves for Hitachi Stadium. A good indication of which bus stop to queue to is the huge number of supporters sporting yellow outfits. Tickets to the games can be availed either from the club shop or from outside the stadium itself.

The Hitachi Kashiwa Soccer Stadium is the more famous of the two stadiums in Kashiwa. It is located at 1 Chome-2-50 Hitachidai, Kashiwa-shi, Chiba-ken 277-0083, Japan. Its contact number is +81 4-7162-2201. The stadium serves as the home ground of Kashiwa Reysol. Built in the year 1985, the original stadium can hold 15,349 people. Most visitors include this stadium as part of their itinerary, as the stadium is famous in the city.

A Guide on Spending Time in Kashiwa City

Aside from checking out the Hitachi Stadium in Kashiwa, there are still other places that one can visit. One of these places is Vampire. One may find its name strange considering that it is a pet shop. However, unlike the typical pet shop that features just cats, dogs, birds, and mice, Vampire features monkeys, snakes, turtles, bats, tropical birds, and even a pig.

Another must-see when in Kashiwa is the Kashiwa Festival. It is typically held in either the last week of July or the first week of August. Because of its popularity, huge crowds can be expected. There are also various food stalls during this festival. It features Taiko drumming performances for the entertainment of visitors. Locals usually come out wearing their summer kimonos while they celebrate this festival.

To know more about Kashiwa, head on over to the Kashiwa Information Center. Located at VAT bldg. 3F, 1-1-11, it is close to the south exit of the station. Visitors can contact the station by calling 7168-8686. It is open from 9 in the morning until 7 in the evening. The center is the best place to get information about how to get around the city of Kashiwa as well as its local tourist attractions. All the staff in the center are friendly and there are sometimes English speakers to guide foreign tourists.

The city is served by the JR Joban Line hailing from Ueno Station of Tokyo. If one avails of the rapid services, the trip from Ueno to Kashiwa would only take approximately 30 to 35 minutes. This would cost 450 yen. Some mid-day services may take only about 25 minutes from Ueno to Kashiwa.