Have you already been to many major sightseeing spots in Japan? Would you like to explore less touristy places where you can feel the genuine atmosphere of today’s Japanese life? Then I’d like to introduce you my lovely hometown, Noda (野田市), in Chiba Prefecture (千葉県), which offers its visitors many interesting and exciting things to do! To get to Noda from Tokyo, it takes approximately one hour and thirty minutes by train by taking the Tobu Line (東武線) to Nodashi Station (野田市駅).
Sekiyado-Jo Museum is a castle with museum exhibitions about the local history inside. Sekiyado used to be a highly regarded place during the reign of Edo Bakufu (江戸幕府) in 1600-1868 because of its vicinity from Edo (Tokyo). This Sekiyado-Jo castle is not so huge, but nevertheless beautiful and historical.
The admission to the museum is only 200 yen for adults and 100 yen for students. When the weather is fine, you can even see Mt. Fuji from the top floor. There is also a park and a small marketplace within the castle estate. Unfortunately, transportation from and to the castle is not very convenient. Make sure to check the bus timetables in advance!
Have you ever wondered how soy sauce is made? Are you a fan of soy sauce? Or do you simply like learning about the production of things? Then you should definitely go to Kikkoman Soy Sauce Museum!
Here, you can learn the history and the process of Kikkoman soy sauce production. The best thing is, the admission is free! Plus, you will get a free souvenir (most likely a bottle of soy sauce) after the tour. The location of this museum is very convenient; only three minutes by foot from Nodashi Station (Tobu Line).
Reservation is necessary, so don’t forget to book your places over the phone in advance! You can also eat Kikkoman’s special bento box at the restaurant at 770 yen per bento box. Booking is necessary, but you must reserve for two people or more.
This is a huge park where you can enjoy various activities including horse riding, a water labyrinth, flower gardens, adventurous athletics, fishing, a swimming pool in summer, and so on.
My recommendation is to do hanami (cherry blossom viewing) here. During the hanami season, which is generally from middle March to early April, Shimizu Koen estate is full of beautiful cherry blossoms. Many people visit the park for hanami and the atmosphere is merry and festive. There are also a lot of street stalls where you can taste Japanese street food. In order to know Japanese people and culture, this is a fantastic occasion. Even if your time of visit is outside hanami season, this park is still worth visiting.
When you exit Atago Station (愛宕駅) on the Tobu Line, take a left and walk the narrow pedestrian path straight for three minutes. Soon, you’ll see Atago Shrine (愛宕神社) on your left. If you have time to spare, it’s nice to walk into the shrine, too.
At the junction in front of Atago Shrine, take a left. Then you are already at the center of Noda City. Noda City Post Office (野田市郵便局) is a landmark. In this main shopping street, you can buy nice local products. They sell Japanese sweets, rice crackers, pickled vegetables, mochi, sandwiches, and so on. For example, Marushimaya (丸嶋屋) is famous for monaka (sweet-beans-paste covered with rice cake). Yonezawaya (米澤屋) sells senbei (rice crackers) of very good quality. Although this street is not very lively or modern, you can enjoy strolling and shopping to your leisure without the crowds.
The Mogi family is one of the most thriving families in Nodashi, being the founder of Kikkoman, the soy sauce and other foods company. They are famous for their economic and social contribution to Noda City.
Mogi-Honke Museum is an art museum which exhibits a collection of Katsushika Hokusai (葛飾北斎) Ukiyoe pictures and other famous works of Japanese art. Here again, reservation on the phone is desirable. The phone number is +81-(0)4-7120-1489. The museum is open every day from Wednesday to Sunday, from 10:00am to 5:00pm. Admission is 700 yen for adults and 400 yen for kids up to junior high school.
Noda City might not frequently appear in Japanese guidebooks, but it is rich in history and culture. If you have one day to spare, it’s really worth visiting. Just don’t forget to book a Kikkoman tour if you plan to go! Enjoy your trip to Japan!