Things to Do | Visit Chiba | Latest update:2022/03/22
Population density has allowed Japan to develop not only great infrastructure, but also bring together many unique architectural designs in close proximity. Here, we’ll show you 4 buildings that follow different styles, but are all equally impressive and important symbols of the communities.
Makuhari Messe is a nationally recognized convention complex encompassing multiple buildings, and there are always events going on like music and media festivals, but also trade and job fairs, conferences, or research events in one of the many designated halls large and small. The designer of the facility, Fumihiko Maki, is an esteemed Japanese architect and recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, often called the Nobel Prize of architecture. There are two primary buildings (International Exhibition Halls) on the convention complex grounds, both with a unique look. One is meant to resemble the rolling mountains of Chiba’s inner geography, and the other is meant to symbolize the ebbing waves of the outer coastlines of the Chiba peninsula. The overall appearance of Makuhari Messe is very modern, almost reminiscent of science fiction, with most of the exterior a stunning chrome color, accentuated by the pleasing building lines.
The Hoki Museum was built in 2010, and the first museum dedicated solely to Japanese “realistic” paintings. The collection inside is impressive, taking you through curving halls of art, and with a chic cafe inside to relax and ponder the meaning of the nearly 500 paintings. All of the beauty is not inside however, as the exterior architecture has won awards for its design. The company that did the design, Nikken Sekkei, is one of the top in the field of architecture in Japan. The angular, modern designs of concrete and glass on the first floor is impressive enough, but the truly fascinating part of the building is the elongated hallway that curves away from the building in its own sort of floating section. It’s both an illusion on the eyes, and a monument to modern architecture.
This museum brings together many creators that have an artistic connection to Chiba Prefecture. This includes both Japanese and overseas artists, including exceedingly famous ones such as Renoir and Millet. The design of this expansive museum was done by an architect who is often considered representative of Japan’s post-war period. Masato Otaka seems to have designed this museum to resemble a Japanese “hiraya“, which employs long rooms with no change in elevation. You can see from the panoramic view of the museum that while it looks somewhat modern, the basic layout is reminiscent of traditional Japanese homes. The style of tiling on the outer walls of the building is done with Tokoname ceramics, making it a work of art in itself. Furthermore, the surrounding trees transform the museum into an artistic oasis in the middle of the modern city.
Sakura City has many fragments of its warrior past still visible in the city today, like former samurai residences, and castle ruins. In the shift to the Meiji Period however, it was famous for leaving its warrior culture behind in favor of the arts, and many artists have a strong connection to this city. One artist, Matakichi Yabe, studied architecture in Germany, and was a key figure in pioneering European designs for buildings; namely banks, 2 of which can still be seen in Chiba. The entrance hall at the Sakura City Museum of Art was formerly the Sakura Branch of Kawasaki Bank designed by Yabe, and the European elements are beautifully pronounced, and still stand as a symbol of Japan’s adoption of international arts and technology at the turn of the 19th century.
2-1 Nakase, Mihama Ward, Chiba City
(A 5-minute walk from JR Keiyo Line, Kaihin Makuhari Station / 17 minutes by bus from JR Sobu Line or Keisei Line, Makuhari Hongo Station / 40 minutes by Highway Bus from Narita Airport)
3-15 Asumigaokahigashi, Midori-ku, Chiba City
(From JR Toke Station - South Exit, take the bus bound for "Asumigaoka Brand New Mall" to the "Asumigaoka Higashi 4-chome" stop (approx. 5 minutes), then walk 1 minute.)
1-10-1 Chuoukou, Chuo-ku, Chiba City
(A 10-minute walk from Chiba Minato Station on the JR Keiyō Line, or the Chiba Urban Monorail.)
*If you require a breast-feeding room, please inquire at the reception.
210 Shinmachi, Sakura City
(An 8-minute walk from Keisei Sakura Station's south exit, or A 20-minute walk from JR Sakura Station's north exit.)