Sawara, Katori – 佐原、香取市

I had a 19 hour layover in Narita the other day. As I’ve never explored Narita before, plus traveling to Tokyo is a bit pricy (~¥4,000 round trip) and time consuming (60mins one way), I decided to book a room in Narita city instead.

At first I wasn’t sure where to go, as I arrived at the hotel at around 5pm. My wife shared me this link 15 Things To Do In Narita For Last Minute Adventures In Japan and I decided to go to Sawara. I ran a bit to the station when I noticed the next train leaves in a few minutes and the next one is 30 minutes later.

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Rice fields on the way to Sawara Station

Sawara is a district in the nearby city of Katori. The district used to be a town of its own until 2007 when it was merged with other towns to become Katori city. The old city of Sawara has been settled since the prehistoric times. During the Nara period (奈良時代) the settlement became a port and monzen machi (temple towns – towns serving pilgrims for a shrine) for the Katori Shrine and became a regional commerce center in the Heian period (平安時代). Sawara’s height of prosperity was during the Edo period (江戸時代)  where it was so prosperous that a poem said “Come to Sawara if you want to see Edo (old name for Tokyo) – お江戸見たけりゃ佐原へござれ”

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Turn left for Onogawa

When I got the Sawara station it was already past 6pm, so I walked quickly to the main point of interest, the Onogawa – Ono river (小野川). The nearest point of the river is around 550m away from the station.

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Sawara Tourism Information Center

The Tourism Information Center near the station, but it was closed. I got a feeling that this town probably sleeps early.

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Distance markers to the town’s point of interest

I lost my way because wasn’t paying attention to the map and was enjoying the small town.

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Handsome fluff in charge of security of a local flower shop

As I suspected, by the time I got to Onogawa, the place was pretty much deserted.

 

I looked up some info on the river, it’s said that during the day, you can take boat ride services to go up and down the river for ¥1,300 for adults and ¥700 for children (20 minutes). The tour starts at near Toyohashi

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Ja Ja Bridge (Toyohashi) – ジャージャー橋(樋橋)

Toyohashi or Ja-Ja Bridge is a small bridge over the Onogawa River. It was once used as an irrigation channel to supply water through a conduit inside the bridge. Back in the days, it was used to provide water for rice fields in the area where the JR Sawara Station now stands. During the rice planting season, Toyohashi provided water to the rice fields by covering its bottom center and both sides with boards. The water is discharged from the bridge if it was not needed. The water discharge made a “ja ja” or noisy sounds so it also became known as the Ja-Ja bridge. Nowadays, the bridge discharges its water twice per hour as a source of attraction for the tourists.

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Sawara Mitsubishi Building – credits to http://www.suigo-sawara.ne.jp

 

I decided to walk along the river and I noticed a red building. But since it was getting dark, I continued to stroll along the river. Turns out the building used to be a bank built in 1880.

 

The stroll along the river was very nice. I bet it would be much better if I could visit during the day when there are more activities.

If you happen to be in Narita, I highly recommend going to Sawara during the day. They also host special events such as Sawara Grand Festival (佐原の大祭) in July and October

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Sawara Grand Festival – credits to http://www.suigo-sawara.ne.jp

 

Hina doll tour (雛めぐり) in early February to Late March

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Hina doll tour  – credits to http://www.suigo-sawara.ne.jp

Suigo Sawara Iris Festival (水郷佐原あやめ祭り) in June. And many others.

Website: http://www.suigo-sawara.ne.jp/abroad.html

How to Get there:

From Narita Airport

Take the JR Sobu/Narita Line Rapid to JR Narita Station (~15 minutes) then transfer to the following options (~30 minutes) for a total of ¥670 one way :

  • JR Narita Line to Choshi (every 20-30 minutes)
  • JR Kashima Line (rare, only 4x a day)
  • Ozashiki-Narita-Sawara-Go train (once a day, at 10:13 and 15:36 for the return trip)

You could also take the Keisei Line from Narita airport to Keisei Narita Station (~10 minutes, ¥260) and walk around 200m to JR Narita Station and take the JR train to Sawara (¥500).

From Tokyo Station

Take the JR Sobu/Narita Line Rapid to JR Narita Station (~70-80 minutes) then transfer to the following options (~30 minutes) for a total of ¥1660 one way :

  • JR Narita Line to Choshi (every 20-30 minutes)
  • JR Kashima Line (rare, only 4x a day)
  • Ozashiki-Narita-Sawara-Go train (once a day, at 10:13 and 15:36 for the return trip)

Ja-ja Bridge (Toyohashi) location. Note that Google map marks the bridge as Hibashi. The kanji 樋 can be read as both toyo and hi. The city’s website and tourism guide confirms that the proper name is Toyohashi

 

 

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