Sawara streets remain as they were 200 years ago in the Edo Period. You can enjoy the Ayame-matsuri Festival and other cultural events in this historic town.
Sawara in Katori City is located in the northwest portion of Chiba Prefecture about 70 kilometers from the heart of Tokyo. Fifteen kilometers from Narita International Airport, it borders Ibaraki Prefecture on the opposite shore of the Tone-gawa River. If you have time, stroll the streets of Sawara, especially in the sprawling 'suigo' district (an area that has many waterways). The streets remain much as they were in the Edo period, providing a terrific sense of nostalgia. People in the Edo Period used to say, with respect, "If you want to see Edo, why don't you visit Sawara? Sawara-Honmachi is more prosperous than Edo." The homes of merchants, whose businesses flourished due to the fluvial transportation to and from Edo, stand its 500-meter length along the Ono-gawa River flowing to the Tonegawa River. The scene closely resembles the Edo of several hundred years ago. The area has therefore been designated a national preservation district for an important group of historic buildings.
The area contains buildings from the latter half of the Edo Period to the beginning of the Showa Era. The structures will surely attract your attention, including the 'kura-zukuri' (warehouse) style merchant houses and Western brick buildings. One of these is the former home of Tadataka Ino, who was the first to complete a map of all Japan at the beginning of the 19th century. The 100 to 200-year-old buildings along the street include many furniture stores and general stores that have been operated as family businesses since those days. You can also enjoy another view of these "living streets" from excursion boats on the river.
The Ayame-matsuri Festival is held at the Suigo Sawara Aquatic Botanical Garden each year from May to June. There you can see 1.5 million irises blooming on the sprawling grounds of the garden. Visitors in summer (mid-July) and autumn (mid-October) can enjoy the "Sawara-no-Taisai Festival," when a dozen large floats are pulled through the streets.
[Rail] 38 min from Tokyo to Chiba Station by JR Sobu Line (rapid service), and 1h from Chiba to Sawara Station by JR Narita Line.
From Narita(Narita Airport Station):
[Rail] 11 min from Narita Airport Station to Narita Station by JR Line (limited express). A five-minute walk to JR Narita Station, and 30 min from Narita to Sawara Station by JR Narita Line.