Japan:A Closer Look at Kanto – Part 1

Dec 29th, 2008 | By Shane Sakata | Category: Regional Travel Resources

Map of Kanto JapanWhile the name of this region of Japan may not sound familiar it is one of the areas in Japan most visited by tourists as it includes the major cities of Tokyo and Yokohama.  The Kanto region occupies less that ten percent of Japan’s land mass but is home to approximately one-third of the country’s population.  Chiba, Gunma, Ibaraki, Kanagawa, Saitama, Tochigi and Tokyo are the seven prefectures that make up the Kanto region.

Ibaraki, Chiba, Tokyo and Kanagawa prefectures lie on the Pacific Ocean while  Saitama, Tochigi and Gunma are inland prefectures.   Located in the southeastern part of Honshu, Japan’s largest island, the area is dominated by the Kanto plain and is home to the largest industrial zone in Japan and serves as a center of commerce for the county.

Part 1 of A Closer Look at Kanto will provide handy travel resources to Chiba, Gunma and Ibaraki prefectures.  Part 2 will cover Saitama and Tochigi prefectures and the coverage of this region will be completed with articles dedicated to Kanagawa and Tokyo.

Chiba Prefecture

Chiba Prefecture is a peninsula that has it’s eastern shore on the the Pacific Ocean and it’s western on Tokyo Bay.  The area is home to more than 6 million people and the northwestern portion of the prefecture is effectively a bedroom community of Tokyo due to it’s proximity to Japan’s capital city.  Chiba is also home to Narita International Airport which is the port of entry for most visitors to Japan.

The area is rich in agricultural production, second only to Hokkaido in northern Japan, and also boasts one of the largest fishery outputs in the country.

Naritasan Visit the Naritasan Shinshoji Temple that is knows as Ofudo-sama (God of Fire) of Narita and was founded in 940.  Stroll through temple town from JR Narita station to get to the temple.

See Edo and early Meiji period architecture at Boso no Mura.  You can try on Samurai body armor and take part in other traditional Japanese arts & crafts by making a reservation as you enter the park.  The nearby Boso Fudoki no Oka Museum is home to 113 burial mounds and many haniwa (clay figures).

Take a tour of the Kikkoman Soy Sauce factory in Noda.

Catch a baseball game from April until October at Chiba Marine Stadium.

Visit Oyama Semaida rice paddies, the nearest terraced rice paddies to Tokyo.

Take the kids out to see Turtle Beach and Pelican Pond at Kamogawa Seaworld.

Visit Mickey Mouse and his friends at Tokyo Disneyland.

Head out for a round of golf in Chiba or take in the view of the Pacific Ocean from Inubosaki Lighthouse.

Browse the Welcome to Chiba site to learn about more great things to see in Chiba Prefecture and don’t forget to check the Chiba Event Calendar before you visit.

Gunma Prefecture

Kustatsu Onsen Gunma Japan A little over an hour from Tokyo on the shinkansen (bullet train), Gunma is one of the most popular destinations for onsen,or hot springs, in Japan and it’s natural beauty is popular with those who love outdoor activities like hiking, golfing and skiing.

Visit the Oze National Park, a plateau that is more that 1,700 meters above sea level and was created by lava from Mt. Hiuchi-ga-take and a registered wetland under the Ramsar Convention.

Take a dip in the Kusatsu Onsen and participate in Yumomi (cooling of the water) or the collection of Yunohana (alluvial sediment deposited by a mineral spring).  Or, visit one of the other onsen located in Gunma prefecture.

Go whitewater rafting on the Tone River near Minakami Onsen.

Find more great things to see in Gunma Prefecture by browsing the Tourism Guide to Gunma or the Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO) Gunma resources.

Ibaraki Prefecture

itako sappa bune river tourIbaraki prefecture is located in the center of the island of Honshu about 40 kilometers from Tokyo and is home to Japan’s second largest lake.

Visit the town of Itako to see the irises each June or take a  Sappa-bune boat tour of the areas 12 bridges called ‘Maekawa-junikyo Meguri’.

Take in the view and the flowers at Kairakuen Garden in Mito

Learn about or participate in Japanese arts & crafts in Kasama.

Take a hobikisen on Lake Kasumigaura.

Visit the beautiful Fukuroda-no-taki Falls near Oku-kuji in northern Ibaraki.

Visit Ibaraki Travel Information and Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO) Ibaraki pages for more regional travel planning ideas.

Odd Facts & Trivia

Approximately 12,000 hectares of land has been reclaimed since 1950 along a 76 kilometer stretch the Tokyo Bay coastline in Chiba.

Articles in the Japan: A Closer Look series:

Be sure to read “Cut & Paste Japan Trip Planning” for other great resources on travel, culture and current events in Japan.

Image Credit:  Wikimedia, Mapofkanto (modified under Creative Commons) Flickr, Narita-san, Kustatsu at night & a celebration day

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  1. The Naritasan Temple is really amazing. I recommend it. Especially for those you may have arrived at Narita on a relatively early flight, you can visit it before leaving the Narita area.

  2. Great article! Will have to check these places out!

  3. A good bit of information for gaijin currently living in Japan and also good for those just visiting.

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