Photo By: t.kunikuni
Region
Kanto
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Chiba
Population
5,926,349

Sakura

Beauty becomes it.

  • The Sakura Autumn Festival is October 12 to 14!
Castle ruins, samurai houses and museums brimming with Japanese history are only a few of the surprises you’ll find inside this often overlooked city. Just a short train ride away from Narita International Airport, this historic samurai city is one of Chiba Prefecture’s hidden gems. Totally worth exploring, most of the spots covered in this article are accessible from Keisei Sakura station.

Sakura Castle Ruins Park

The landmark of the city is Sakura Castle ruins and its surrounding forested grounds. Back in the day, the area was the largest castle town in the region, under the command of daimyo (feudal lord) Doi Toshikatsu.

Photo by: lin Judy(快樂雲) The sakura in sakura.

Nowadays, what is left from the castle are just scant ruins and the expansive Sakura Castle Park, which is an excellent venue for hanami (cherry blossom viewing parties) without all the crowds usually associated with it. Inside the park, you can find the Sankeitei, a tea ceremony house. It’s a pleasant oasis to relax with a cup of matcha tea with traditional sweets.

National Museum of Japanese History

On the same grounds is the National Museum of Japanese History (Map), which is the dedicated to the research and display of Japanese history and culture. It’s one of the best museums in Japan for a look and understanding of its history.

The museum features six galleries and a special exhibition that allow visitors to understand how Japanese lived from primitive times through to modern days. See the cultures of the Heian era, the lives of the samurai, the birth and development of overseas trading and the Ryukan and Ainu ways of life.

Samurai Houses

A short walk from the museum that’s plotted on a hill, take a stroll around the three buke-yashiki, the famed samurai houses of Sakura. The 3 houses are bordered by bamboo groves, citrus, loquat and persimmon trees. If you take the Hidoyorizaka Slope from the Samurai Houses (also known as the Old Samurai Road (Map)) you will eventually end up in a small bamboo forest.

Photo by: PROTANAKA Juuyoh (田中十洋) Follow Where the samurai were.

More art

For nature lovers who want more than the bamboo forest, water features and lush gardens are to be found on the 10 hectares of land that make up the Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art. This place perfectly blends together nature with art.  The museum displays 19th and 20th-century artists such as Picasso, Monet and Renoir. American artists also get a look in, with Warhol and Pollock featuring.

Seasonal events and other features

All the above can be squeezed into a day, but Sakura has a few seasonal highlights. In October, check out the Sakura Autumn Festival that celebrates harvest time. It has a procession of floats and centers around Shinmachi-dori Street. If you are in Sakura in spring (which is recommended), don’t miss the tulip festival and picturesque Dutch windmill at Furusato Square (Map). In summer, there are also thousands of sunflowers in full bloom here.

Sakura Autumn Festival.

Other points of interest

  • Tsukamoto Samurai Sword Museum
  • The house and garden of the last feudal lord Count Hotta
  • An old steam locomotive (sadly out of service), just five minutes from the station.

Travel Tips

Sakura is serviced by the Keisei and JR lines. However, these train stations are on opposite sides of the city — a 30-minute walk or 10 minutes by bus from one to the other. You can rent bicycles from three locations: In front of JR Sakura station by the tourist center (JR Sakura Ekimae Kankojoho Center (Map)), also near the Keisei Sakura station (Sakura City Sight Seeing Information Center (Map)) and from Furusato Square. While there are some English pamphlets, staff has very limited English.

Discovering so much in a day may make you even want to spend the night. In that case, the city even has a youth hostel called Omotenahsi Lab, with at least one English-speaking staff.

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Things To Know

National Museum of Japanese History

Admission costs  ¥420 for adults and ¥250 for students. Children under 15 do not need to pay admission.  The museum is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. from March to September and from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from October to February.

Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art

Admission for the museum costs ¥1,300 for adults and ¥1,100 for university students and seniors. For children, the admission fee is  ¥600. The museum is open every day from 9.30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sankeitei (Tea Ceremony House) admission

The tea house is open from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tea and sweet set costs ¥400.

Samurai Houses

Admission fee for Buke-yashiki (Samurai Houses) costs ¥210, for adults and  ¥100 for students ¥100. The houses are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

How To Get There

Address

Japan, 〒285-0017 Chiba Prefecture, 佐倉市城内町官有無番地 Sakura Castle Ruins Park

By train

From Keisei-Ueno station, take the Keisei Line to Keisei Sakura station.

From Narita Airport Terminal 2 station take the JR line to Sakura station. From Tokyo station take the JR Sobu line to Chiba station. At the station, change to Narita line and get off at JR Sakura station.

By foot

Most of the locations mentioned are easily accessed on foot within 10 to 30 minutes of Keisei Sakura station.

Where To Stay

Omotenashi LAB
  • Shin-machi 168 Sakura-Shi, Chiba 285-0023
  • 8.6/10
  • 1.6 km
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Wishton Hotel Yukari
  • Yukarigaoka 4-8-1 Sakura-Shi, Chiba 285-0858
  • 8.2/10
  • 5.4 km
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