Written by Ramona (GREATERTOKYO_Explorer)
Food, History And Crafts! Enjoy Japanese Culture On Your Way To Narita
Exquisite Japanese food, a fascinating museum dedicated to portable shrines, and the impressive National Museum of Japanese History - stop by these facilities on your way to Narita Airport for an in-depth experience of Japanese culture in Chiba.
An Exciting Experience of Japanese Culture Awaits in Chiba
At the end of your trip to Japan, how do you plan to spend your day? If you're using Narita Airport and your flight is in the evening, you can still enjoy your explorations of Japanese culture on your way to the airport.
In fact, with Narita Airport being located in Chiba, a prefecture that boasts an amazing historical heritage and delicious seafood, it would be a good idea to explore this area before departure.
This itinerary will take you to an exciting museum of portable shrines, where you can learn about Japan's festivals, to a refined ryotei that offers exquisite Japanese food, and to the impressive National Museum of Japanese History, where you can wander about through the ages of Japanese history.
9:00 - 9:32 -- Depart from Otemachi Station and Get Off at Myoden Station
Our first destination, the Gyotoku Mikoshi Museum is located near Myoden Station, which can be reached from Tokyo by taking the Tokyo Metro Tozai Line. If your departure point is Tokyo Station, then head to the nearby Otemachi Station. The ride to Myoden Station takes about 32 minutes.
To fully enjoy this itinerary, we recommend that you send your luggage to Narita Airport in advance so that you can travel hassle-free. Make sure to inquire to the staff at your accommodation about the baggage delivery procedures and they will suggest a convenient service. For details, please take a look at the official page of Narita Airport's baggage delivery service.
9:45 - 11:15 -- Marvel at Gorgeous Portable Shrines! Gyotoku Mikoshi Museum
The Gyotoku Mikoshi Museum, located close to Myoden Station, is a facility that opened in 2018. Its purpose is to introduce the culture of portable shrines through exhibitions and workshop tours.
Portable shrines, or mikoshi, are used during shrine festivals. On special festival days, a prayer is held by the shrine priests for the guardian deity of the shrine to move temporarily from its place in the main hall to the portable shrine. The deity is then paraded through the town so that its blessings reach the entire community.
The exhibition at the Gyotoku Mikoshi Museum features gorgeous portable shrines created by Nakadai Seisakusho, a well-established workshop specialized in making mikoshi. There are shrine parts and accessories on display, making it easy to understand how much craft and talent are required to make these precious ceremonial objects.
The best thing about this exhibit is that visitors are allowed to touch the objects on display and see for themselves the structure of a portable shrine. The process of making the parts of a mikoshi is shown in detail.
There are several completed mikoshi on display and you can tell at one glance that they are true masterpieces of craftsmanship. Take your time to observe their exquisite details, which show great artistry backed up by a tradition of several hundred years.
On weekdays, visitors can also ask to be taken on a tour of the workshop itself, which is located at the back of the museum. You can see craftsmen at work and marvel at their concentration and dexterity. Their craft has been handed down for generations.
Please note that the process you might be able to see can vary. It can be either the wood carving process, the application of metal fittings and decoration or the lacquering process.
A visit to the Gyotoku Mikoshi Museum will leave you in awe at the incredibly fine works of craftsmen who keep the tradition of making portable shrines alive.
11:31 - 11:45 -- Travel from Myoden to Funabashi Station
From Myoden Station, take the Tozai Line train and get off after 5 minutes at Nishihunabashi Station. Change to the JR Sobu Line and in another 2 minutes, you'll arrive at JR Funabashi Station.
12:00 - 13:20 -- A Scrumptious Lunch at Nabesan
Funabashi is a port town and boasts delicious seafood. Our recommendation is to enjoy the local seafood with the refined dishes of Nabesan, an elegant ryotei (Japanese restaurant) that has been operating since the Taisho period (1912-1926) in this town.
At Nabesan, you will enjoy your meal in Japanese rooms with tatami flooring and sliding doors, tastefully decorated with fresh seasonal flowers and Japanese objects. This ryotei has a beautiful Japanese garden, which guests can glance at while enjoying their meals.
The menu we recommend is the course called Boshu no Sachi (4,800 yen), which comprises various representative dishes of Japanese cuisine made with ingredients from Chiba Prefecture.
The first part of the course includes delicious appetizers and sashimi.
A main seafood dish follows, along with fresh sushi and even tempura. The dishes are prepared with great care and arranged beautifully on elegant tableware that makes them even more appetizing by highlighting the vivid color of the ingredients.
Please note that it is recommended to make a reservation in advance, especially if you wish to enjoy the refined Boshu no Sachi course.
The very friendly, kimono-clad okami-san, the lady in charge of attending the guests at the ryotei, speaks English and is happy to tell you the story of the exquisite dishes prepared at Nabesan.
13:40 - 14:17 -- Travel from Keisei Funabashi to Keisei Sakura Station
To reach the next destination, we recommend taking the train from Keisei Funabashi Station toward Sakura City. You will reach Keisei Sakura Station in about 24 minutes.
Use the south exit and follow the signs toward the National Museum of Japanese History, which can be reached in less than 15 minutes on foot.
14:40 - 16:30 - So Many Fascinating Exhibits! The National Museum of Japanese History
The National Museum of Japanese History is a leading facility in the field of historical research. It stands on the former precincts of Sakura Castle, in the heart of a city that thrived from the early 16th century through the middle of the 19th century as a jokamachi (castle town).
The museum consists of six large exhibition rooms, each focusing on a particular feature of Japanese history and culture. There is an entire room dedicated to prehistory and ancient cultures, followed by a room with exhibits related to the early days of Japan as a state and the medieval ages. Premodern, modern, and contemporary history are also presented with fascinating displays.
The exhibits focus on the lifestyle of the Japanese people during the ages, showcasing daily occupations, food culture, clothing and festivals.
Many of the exhibits are interactive and provided with touchscreens that have foreign language support.
An entire room is dedicated to folk culture, folk beliefs and religion. Visitors can learn here in detail about yokai, the fantastic creatures that appear in Japanese legend, as well as about the features of the Shinto and Buddhist traditions and how they are practiced nowadays.
The best feature of this museum is that it provides insights into contemporary lifestyles. For example, in the room on contemporary history, you'll find a model of a Japanese home. It makes it easier to imagne how contemporary Japanese families live nowadays.
In addition to the permanent exhibitions, there are various temporary exhibitions themed around new results of historical research and seasonal events.
The museum has an excellent souvenir shop with objects related to the exhibits.
The original goods are elegant and practical. They can make a nice keepsake of your visit here and of your trip to Japan.
The museum is very wide and if you're interested in a specific era of Japanese history, you might want to prioritize that over other exhibits. Make sure you have enough time at your disposal to enjoy your visit.
16:54 - 17:30 -- From Keisei Sakura Station to Narita Airport Terminal 2
Besides the National Museum of History, Sakura boasts two excellent art museums, the Sakura City Museum of Art and the Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art, as well as a street with old samurai residences. If your time allows it, it might be fun to explore this street too.
The Keisei Line express train takes you in 24 minutes directly from Keisei Sakura Station to Narita Airport.
Have a Great Time Enjoying Japanese Culture in Chiba!
There are many wonderful locations in Chiba on the way to Narita Airport, where you can experience authentic Japanese culture. After visiting the Gytoku Mikoshi Museum and the National Museum of Japanese history, and after tasting the exquisite dishes of Nabesan, you'll know you have to come again to Japan because your explorations of this culture have just started.
Otemachi Station → Myoden Station → Gyotoku Mikoshi Museum → Myoden Station → Funabashi Station → Nabesan → Keisei Funabashi Station → Keisei Sakura Station → National Museum of Japanese History → Keisei Sakura Station → Narita Airport
Transportation: less than 2000 yen
Lunch: 4,000 yen
Entrance fees, souvenirs, other expenses: around 2000 yen
For more information on places to visit and exciting things to do in Chiba and Ibaraki, please refer to these websites:
Chiba Prefecture: http://japan-chiba-guide.com/en/index.html
Ibaraki Prefecture: http://english.ibarakiguide.jp/
Supported by Ibaraki-Chiba Joint Promotion Council of Themed International Tourism