The Mood of the 18th-Century Streets Attract Visitors
CHIBA – There are several towns and streets that maintain the traditional feel of the Edo period of 17-19th century Japan. These places are known as Ko-Edo, meaning “Little Edo”, the old name for Tokyo. Sawara City of Chiba Prefecture recently caught some attention as a Ko-Edo, attracting more than 11 million tourists* a year during the past couple years. Sawara is located two hours east of Central Tokyo by train, passing Narita. Sawara, in the middle of nowhere, is a canal town where small boats come and go. Once this town flourished as a trading spot due to its advantage of being an easily navigable port area. A lot of historical buildings still exist along the Onogawa River even today.
Among those buildings are storehouses that were built in the Edo period and other architecture from the Meiji (1869-1912), Taisho (1912-1926) and Showa (1926-1989) periods. A variety of historical buildings can be seen along the willow-planted street, too. Latticeworks in front of the wooden building stand out. Roofing tiles are thick and black or grey. Recently, old buildings have been turned into stylish restaurants or fancy stores for tourists. Movies are often shot here.
This region has been designated as an “important preservation district of historic buildings”. When you visit, don’t miss the house of Tadataka Ino, who crossed the entire country to draw the first map of Japan over the course of 17 years!
Photo by Eri Minouchi, text by Motomi Takahashi