Hiding in Chiba: take a bus that goes under the ocean to the castle’s peaceful Edo-style town.
Should you find yourself wondering what to visit when in the southern Chiba Prefecture region, why not explore Otaki Castle and its Edo-style town and mountain trails?
Built in the 16th Century and subject to various restorations over the centuries, this small but nonetheless imposing stronghold operates as a cultural and historical showcase for the area. The castle that overlooks the town of Otaki contains armory, artifacts, currency and craftwork from the era. It also boasts a commanding view of the surrounding district.
Inside Otaki Castle
The museum within has four floors but are not accessible to wheelchairs beyond the first. On this floor, there are panels showing scenes from the 12th to 19th century and a video focusing on the local history. Next floor is stocked with arms including the nihonto (sword) and samurai gear. Fans of the legendary warriors can don the fearsome helmets and feel the literal weight of the centuries upon them! There are also fascinating if cumbersome-looking rifles on display.
The 17th-century suburbia, where some 12, 000 people lived is detailed on the third floor. Back then, townships had developed around the castle and residents included merchants, farmers, crafters and warriors. There’s no lack of goods from the ages – houseware, tea ceremony kits, crockery, coinage, cash holders, account books and clothing. Look out for the ink paintings which would have adorned more gentrified homes. During this period, residents were ranked accordingly to their profession and social standing.
Nearby Otaki Castle
Four windows on the fourth floor will give you views of Otaki Town, surrounding fields, mountains and the greater area. You can even camp while in the area at the Forest Park Otaki Camp Area, situated a 15-minute walk from the castle. Open all year round (apart from Dec. 29 to Jan. 3) you can stay in a log cabin or tent.
All in all, your visit to the museum should take about an hour and you can spend another hour or two hiking various short walks through the woodlands. A couple of food stalls are located near the parking lot and shika kara-age (local deer meat) is the recommended tasty morsel of choice.
Back in Otaki Town, the Watanabe Family Residence (a large merchant house from the 1840s Edo-period) is a fine example of its time.