Locals’ Recommendations | Visit Chiba | Latest update:2022/03/22
Nagareyama City is the perfect place for a relaxing day trip, just twenty minutes away from Tokyo by train. It has a rich history as the birthplace of shiro-mirin, a sweet rice wine that was once consumed as a beverage but is now used as a condiment that is essential to Japanese cuisine. The mirin-brewing industry brought prosperity to the region that is now known as the Nagareyama Honcho area during the Edo Period, and when you explore, you can still feel the atmosphere of those days lingering in the streets.
Another landmark of Nagareyama City is the Tone Canal, which connects the Edogawa River to the west and the Tone River to the northeast. 8.5 kilometres in length, it was designed by a Dutch engineer named Mulder and constructed under his supervision in 1890, and near the canal is a stone monument that bears his name.
I’ve lived in Nagareyama for over a year, and although the city’s scenery changes with Japan’s four seasons, I find it to be a beautiful place no matter when you choose to visit!
In the Nagareyama Honcho area, there is a historical facility called the Issa-Soju Memorial Hall. It is named after Issa Kobayashi, a famous haiku poet of the Edo Period, and Sanzaemon Akimoto V, a mirin brewer who also wrote haiku under the pen name ‘Soju.’ Issa Kobayashi is said to have visited Nagareyama more than 50 times over his lifetime to see Akimoto, and the Issa-Soju Memorial Hall was opened in 1995 to commemorate the friendship between the two. Inside, there is a stone slab engraved with a haiku poem that Issa Kobayashi composed during one of his stays in Nagareyama.
The Issa-Soju Memorial Hall is a recreation of the Akimoto residence, and open to the public with free entry. One of its buildings, called Soju-tei, was originally built as a study wing in 1858 that was designed in the style of a tea ceremony building, and it faces the residence’s traditional Japanese garden. I’ve been here several times, but it is particularly breathtaking in the autumn, when it is filled with the vibrant red, orange, and yellow leaves of the Momiji trees.
For 300 yen, you can order a hot bowl of matcha tea, which is served with a piece of traditional Japanese confectionery. Relax, gaze at the beauty of the garden, and surround yourself with a unique Japanese atmosphere and experience.
The Tone Canal runs across the north side of the city. Though it was originally used for the transportation of goods via ships, with 20,000 ships passing through every year at its peak, it stopped being used for this purpose after rail transport became more prevalent. Today, the canal is a beautiful, nature-surrounded place of recreation and relaxation for locals and visitors alike.
Near the Canal Waterside Park is the “Tone Canal Billiken-san” statue. Originally created by American artist Florence Pretz, Billiken became known as a god of fortune around the world. The first Tone Canal Billiken-san was built in 1913 and stood watch over the canal for more than a century before being replaced by the second Tone Canal Billiken-san in 2021. It’s said that if you rub his feet, you’ll receive his blessing!
Footpaths run alongside the canal for walking and cycling, and there is no shortage of excellent restaurants, cafes, and bars nearby. I love coming to this area around March, when the weather is warm and the canal is lined with the blooming cherry blossom trees and cole flowers.
Thank you for reading, and I hope to see you in Nagareyama soon!
6-670-1 Nagareyama, Nagareyama City
(An 8 minute walk from Heiwadai Station, on the Ryutetsu Nagareyama Line)
1 Nagareyama, Nagareyama City (Nagareyama Station)
(Transfer from the JR Joban Line to the Ryutetsu Nagareyama Line at Mabashi Station and ride to Nagareyama Station, the last stop (approx. 11-minute train ride).)