Katori City is located in the northeastern part of Chiba Prefecture, about 70 km from Tokyo and 15 km from Narita International Airport. When visiting the main sightseeing district, Sawara, you should get off the train at JR Sawara Station. The district is also directly accessible by car from Sawara Katori Interchange on the Higashi-Kanto Expressway.
Sawara flourished based on water transport and was once even called "Edo masari" (superior to Tokyo) in the Edo-period. People there incorporated various elements of Edo culture while also establishing their own unique culture. Along the Onogawa River and Katori street, there are still many buildings and facilities which remind us of Sawara's former prosperity. These attract many overseas tourists to the region. In 1996, Sawara became the first area in the Kanto region to be designated as an "Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Building" for its efforts to preserve those historic facilities and improve its landscape by fully utilizing such structures. It was also introduced in the Michelin Green Guide Japan in 2015. The boat tour of the Onogawa River, which runs through the central part of the region, is especially popular among sightseers.
One of Japan's most renowned shrines, Katori Jingu dates back more than 2,700 years and is famous for its spring cherry blossoms and colorful autumn foliage. Katori Jingu has also attracted much interest as a "power spot" - a source of mystical energy. Sawara is well known as the place where Ino Tadataka (1745-1818), who surveyed the geographical features of Japan and created a map of the country, lived during the Edo Period (1603-1867). Many tourists visit his private home as well as the Ino Tadataka Museum, where his measuring instruments - which are designated national treasures - are on display. The famous Sawara grand festival, held in summer and autumn, dates back about 300 years and is designated by the government as a significant intangible folk cultural asset. In the festival, large dolls measuring up to five meters tall - the largest of its kind in Japan - are installed on floats. If you visit the Suigo Sawara Float Hall, you can see a permanent display of two floats, and grasp a sense of the overwhelming atmosphere of the festival. The Suigo Sawara Aquatic Botanical Garden, situated in the northern part of the city, holds an iris festival in June as its main attraction. Visitors to the festival can enjoy the magnificent scenery of 1.5 million Japanese irises of 400 varieties in full bloom. In the garden, people can also have the unique experience of viewing the irises while riding a small boat.
Visit Sawara, 30 minutes from Narita Airport, to enjoy its history and riverside scenery.
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