When one talks about Japan, cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto come to mind easily – these places represent Japan for the most part, and for a good reason. But that doesn’t mean that no other city in Japan is worth visiting. The country boasts of plenty of cities that are not “mainstream” but offer great Japanese experience – one of these cities is Chiba.
Chiba is a government-designated city. It is the capital of Chiba Prefecture and is about an hour from Tokyo by train. But what does the city have to offer? Let’s find out.
Chiba City has a number of notable parks comparable to those found in Japan’s key cities. Chiba Park is perfect for hanami during spring, and is likewise an altenative to the overly-crowded parks in Tokyo. Makuhari Kaihin Park has a wide open space and an interesting giant clock on ground that is decorated by seasonal flowers. Other parks that are excellent destinations include the Inage Ocean Park and the Aobanomori Park. Animal lovers will enjoy the Chiba Zoological Park; the zoo that’s best known for the standing panda, Futa.
Makuhari Shintoshin (Makuhari New City) is a wide economic zone facing the Tokyo Bay. It is home to plenty of interesting spots including the Chiba Marine Stadium (sports stadium; Home of the Chiba Lotte Marines), the Makuhari Messe (international convention center), COSTCO (warehouse), AEON Mall (shopping center), Mitsui Outlet Park (shopping center), and lots of high-rise buildings (e.g. Techno Garden Makuhari, AEON Tower and World Business Garden). There are plenty of dining options – both Western and traditional – at the malls and right outside the Kaihin-Makuhari Station. Makuhari also has an international school and medical establishments that are English-capable.
Indeed, Makuhari Shintoshin is living up to its name as a new city with everything packed in just 500 hectares.
The Japanese experience is not complete without paying a visit to cultural locations, and Chiba has some on its own. Chiba’s brand of such spots may not be as massive as its counterparts from other parts of the country, but these destinations remain appealing and are worth visiting.
The Chiba Castle is actually a museum (also known as Chiba Folk Museum) of great finds. The Chiba Shrine is tranquil and is an excellent place for repose.
On a more modern facet, the Hoki Museum – Tripadvisor’s No. 1 Chiba City destination – honors realism and holds a wide array of modern paintings. The Chiba City Museum of Science and the Chiba Museum of Art also offer cool collections that shouldn’t be missed.
The Chiba Port Tower is a 125-meter tall tower in the Chiba Port Park. It was built to commemorate the five million population milestone in Chiba during the early 80s.
The blue tower’s build is simple but is visually striking. It is primarily an observation spot, with a 360-degree view of the entire Chiba City and of neighboring cities.
Chiba Port Tower Access
At about 15 kilometers in length, the Chiba Urban Monorail is currently the world’s longest suspended monorail. It is pleasing to eye when suspended cars pass the usually curved tracks, especially when the cars are designed with engaging illustrations. An interesting spot between Sakaechou and Yoshikawa-Kouen Stations is a stunning arch that supports a portion of the rail.
Riding the monorail cars is likewise an awesome experience. The thought of travelling on a suspended vehicle gives a unique feel in transportation. Plus, it’s nice to look down at the train windows seeing people and places, rather than just seeing the usual (boring) railway tracks.
Chiba may not be as widely-known as Japan’s key cities, but visiting Chiba is never a sorry experience. Try it!