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Sakura City: A Hidden Gem between Tokyo and Narita

Things to Do | Visit Chiba | Latest update:2024/03/26

Sakura City is rich with history, and much of it comes from their warrior past, as Sakura was at one point a jokamachi, meaning the sprawling town at the base of the area lord’s castle. Here you can still see the places where samurai warriors lived and trained like at the Old Samurai Houses of Sakura and Hiyodori-zaka Slope old samurai road. Museum fans can also enjoy a visit to the National Museum of Japanese History and the Sakura City Museum of Art. Visitors will find that Sakura is conveniently located on the way to Narita Airport, accessible by both the JR and Keisei lines via JR Sakura Station and Keisei-Sakura Station. Come explore this cultural nook in Chiba and build your itinerary using our recommended locations below.

Hiyodori-zaka Slope and Old Samurai Residences

Hiyodori-zaka Slope, the “Old Samurai Road,” leads you through a lush towering bamboo forest toward three old samurai residences. Here you’ll find traditional houses where samurai families of the Sakura Clan once lived. Enter the houses and see where they cooked, slept, and carried out their activities of the day, and there is even armor and other artifacts on display for your enjoyment.

More information on the Hiyodori-zaka Slope and Old Samurai Residences here:

Heart of Zen Experience

For a truly immersive time in Sakura, we recommend the Heart of Zen Experience. Special reservations (usually requiring a group of 3 to 6 people) can be made for the program by contacting the Sakura City Tourism Association using the email address listed on their page. The Visit Chiba team had a chance to participate in this unique experience conducted by the priest from the local Hojuin Temple, Katoh-sensei. The Heart of Zen takes place at the Former Residence of Lord Hotta, a beautifully preserved traditional estate in here in Sakura.

Please keep in mind that the contents of the Heart of Zen Experience are often updated, and the below information is based on our experience in November 2023.

There are two main parts to the Heart of Zen Experience: zazen meditation and sado tea ceremony. The experience starts with zazen, which is a Buddhist discipline based on seated meditation. First we were fitted into traditional hakama, then we headed to the meditation room. There, Katoh-sensei handed out a sheet with English instruction, and then proceeded to explain the main elements of practicing zazen. If you do wish to participate in this program, we recommend having at least one Japanese speaker in your group, or a guide, who can interpret the subtler points of the instructions.

Katoh-sensei explained to us the key aspects to practicing zazen, like how your eyes should remain just slightly open throughout most of the meditation, focused on a spot on the floor in front of you, and the roles posture and breathing play in the process. He taught us that breathing serves as the “entry point” into zazen, and how when you lose focus during the meditation, you can re-center your mind by simply breathing in and out slowly, deliberately filling your lungs and emptying them. After the zazen, we then took part in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Katoh-sensei guided us through the steps of preparing the tea, and using a whisk to mix the tea powder with water. We were also treated to sweets made by a local wagashiyasan, or traditional Japanese confectioner.

Lunch at Boshuu-ya

If you’re looking for a spot to grab some lunch while you’re in the area, one of our favorite restaurants is the soba noodle shop Boshuu-ya (Google Maps). You’ll find it in a traditional-style building in a central location between JR Sakura and Keisei-Sakura Station, not far from the Old Samurai Residences and Sakura City Museum of Art. An English menu is available upon request.

Art & History Museums

Sakura City Museum of Art

The first thing you’ll notice here is the stunning entrance hall and its distinct western-style architecture. Designed by Yabe Matakichi, a famous 20th century architect, the outside shows the elegance of western architecture put into practice by Japanese designers. This museum has changing exhibits, always exploring artists that have a connection to Sakura City. The cafe inside has handmade sandwiches and desserts, as well as a tasty variety of drinks.

National Museum of Japanese History

Having gotten a good look at various aspects of the area’s past and present, bring it all together here at “Rekihaku”, the National Museum of Japanese History. Step way back to the very beginnings of Japanese society, and journey through the ages seeing the changes, innovations, and arts that made Japanese culture what it is today. Start in prehistory and ancient times, the hunter/gatherer times, and continue through history until you find yourself in 20th century Japan. Everything in between is beautifully displayed, and you’re sure to bolster your knowledge of Japanese culture seeing how rice production was first done, kimonos of the nobles reproduced in authentic silk, and much much more. See it all first hand here, in fleshed-out, life-like displays that are easy to absorb.

Get more information on “Rekihaku” here:

Sightseeing Spots

Hiyodori-zaka Slope

A bamboo forest largely unchanged since the Edo period nearly 300 years ago. It's thought that the samurai warriors of the Sakura liege lord, who controlled what is now Sakura City, used this path for coming and going from their lodgings nearby.

5-23 Jonaicho, Sakura City

(A 20-minute walk from JR Sakura Station)


Old Samurai Residences in Sakura City

Samurai warriors of the Sakura liege lord, who controlled what is now Sakura City, lived in these three residences: Kawara-ke, Tajima-ke, and Takei-ke. A prior reservation can get you a full tour in English, and nearby is the bamboo forest path (Hiyodori-zaka Slope) which the warriors regularly used.

Kawara-ke: 57 Miyakoujimachi, Sakura City
Tajima-ke: 61 Miyakoujimachi, Sakura City
Takei-ke: 60 Miyakoujimachi, Sakura City

(A 15-minute walk from JR Sakura Station)


  • Handicap parking
  • Handicap toilet
  • Ostomate restroom
  • Wheelchair ramp

Sakura City Museum of Art

The entrance hall to the Sakura City Museum of Art was designed by famed architect Yabe Matakichi after the shift to the Meiji Period. Originally a bank, then a city administration building, and eventually a city library, today it stands beautifully preserved as the entrance into a niche corner of European-influenced Japanese art.

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.)


National Museum of Japanese History

A one-stop shop for everything that made Japanese society what it is today. The museum leads you on a chronological tour through 6 unique sections, showing you each key point in Japanese history and culture, all with beautifully preserved artifacts, paintings, models, and more.

117 Jonai-cho, Sakura City

(A 15-minute walk from Keisei Sakura Station. From JR Sakura Station: Take the Chiba Green Bus headed for "Tamachi Shako", and get off at the "Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan Iriguchi" or "Kokuritsu Rekishi Minzoku Hakubutsukan" bus stops (about a 15-minute bus ride).)



  • Handicap parking
  • Handicap toilet
  • Ostomate restroom
  • Wheelchair rentals
  • Written communication for the hearing impaired
  • Wheelchair ramp
  • Stroller rentals
  • Breast-feeding room
  • Service dogs permitted
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