Things to Do | Visit Chiba | Latest update:2021/12/22
Matsudo City is located right along Chiba’s border with Tokyo, making it a great day trip destination from Tokyo and Chiba alike. On our model day trip to Matsudo, we visited two of the city’s historical landmarks, and then treated ourselves to the city’s famous ramen.
We started our day in Matsudo from Kita-Kogane Station, en route to Hondo-ji Temple. Hondo-ji Temple has over 740 years of history, having been founded as one of the major Buddhist temples of the Kamakura Period. The road leading to the temple starts just outside the north gate of the station, and is lined with various restaurants and local shops. The small open-air market just outside the temple is a great place to sample some locally made treats.
After about a ten-minute walk down the temple road, you’ll be greeted by the temple’s red main gate. Walk under the gate and down the walkway through a tunnel of maple trees toward the main entrance of the temple grounds. As soon as you enter, you’ll be treated to a view of a towering five-story pagoda. The walking paths will take you through the temple’s serene gardens, with different Buddhist sights, halls, and towers dotting the temple grounds at each turn.
Hondo-ji Temple also goes by the nickname “hydrangea temple” because of the estimated 50,000 hydrangeas that bloom there every June. We visited just in time to catch the hydrangea festival, but any time of year is a great time to plan a trip to Hondo-ji. The temple is known as a spot for all four seasons, from the cherry blossoms in early spring to the red maple and yellow ginkgo leaves of fall.
After returning to Kita-Kogane Station, we headed five stops down on the JR Joban Line to Matsudo Station. As you come out the east exit of the station, you’ll see signs for the Tojo Historical Museum. After about ten minutes of following the signs, you’ll reach the entrance to the Tojo-tei House and Garden.
The Tojo-tei House was originally built in a classic wooden Japanese style in 1884, and has since been extended to include nine inter-connected buildings. Visitors are welcome to tour through the rooms and corridors and take in the elegance of the cedar wood spaces and their ornamental carvings. Throughout the house, you will find information displays with QR codes linking you to detailed information in many languages, including English.
The house was built as a residence for Akitake Tokugawa, who was once a candidate to become shogun before the shogunate system was abolished at the onset of the Meiji period. He served in the new imperial government, and eventually went to study in France, where he became interested in gardening, a hobby he would begin pursuing earnestly at this residence. The garden features classical Japanese and Western-style landscaping techniques, representing not only Akitake Tokugawa’s tastes, but the tastes of an era in which Japan was beginning to open itself up to the world.
The edge of the garden rests on a hill, offering a view of the Edogawa River, and on clear days a peak at Mt. Fuji too. Also, check out the Tojo Museum of History where you can learn about the House of Tokugawa, which ruled Japan for 260 years. The museum displays a rotating series of exhibitions and artifacts related to the history of the House of Tokugawa.
We had worked up quite an appetite after our first two destinations, so on our way back to Matsudo Station, we stopped by the locally famous Tomita Ramen Shop. Matsudo is known as a hub of delicious ramen restaurants, and Tomita Ramen is a chain based in Matsudo with shops all over Chiba. Even if you can’t make it out to Matsudo, there’s always the convenient option of grabbing a quick bowl of ramen at their shop inside Chiba Station.
Tomita is so popular at lunchtime that we had to go down the street from their main shop to one of the satellite shops just to get a table. Customers order on the ticket machine as they enter. We ordered three types of ramen: dipping ramen with a fish-based dipping broth, dipping ramen with a soy sauce-based dipping broth, and ramen in a salt-based broth.
63 Hiraga, Matsudo City
(About a 10-minute walk from Kita-Kogane Station on the JR Joban Line)
714-1 Matsudo City
(About a 15-minute walk from Matsudo Station)
Main branch: Takahashi Building, 1339 Matsudo City
Satellite branch: Sekine Building, 1239-1 Matsudo City
(Main branch: About a 5-minute walk from Matsudo Station /// Satellite branch: About a 2-minute walk from Matsudo Station)