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Foreign Languages > Chiba International Information Square > Nanohana Navigator (Hokuso Area)

Update:February 24, 2015

Nanohana Navigator (Hokuso Area)

Index

Hokuso Area

Choshi City

Kozaki Town

Narita City

 

 Choshi Electric Railway (Choshi City)

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Choshi Electric Railway train at Choshi Station 

     

     Choshi City is located on northeastern tip of Chiba Prefecture, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean to the east and bordering Ibaraki Prefecture to the north.

     Because of its ideal location, Choshi has one of the top fishing industries in the country. Choshi’s fishing port even earned the highest catches of fish in the country for 5 years in a row from 2005-2010. In addition to fresh seafood, tourists also come to enjoy the city’s natural landscape and nostalgic atmosphere. One attraction where visitors can enjoy these is the Choshi Electric Railway.

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Choshi Tourism Attendant describing Choshi’s attractions on the train

 

     The Choshi Electric Railway, which first began operation in the 1920s, runs a total distance of 6.4 kilometers, from Choshi Station to Tokawa Station. With a history of almost 90 years now, this local railway faced closing a number of times, but has overcome these trials thanks to the support of local residents and railway fans.

 

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Ashikajima Station, the easternmost train station in the Kanto Region

 

     If you have the chance to travel along the Choshi Electric Railway with a Choshi Tourism Attendant (Choshi kanko atendanto), please do! The Nanahana News staff did, and along the way we learned all sorts of fun facts about each station and their unique characteristics. For instance, Kannon Station is popular for its taiyaki shop located directly within the station, Moto-Choshi Station is famous for the bunches of hydrangea that line both sides of the tracks, and Ashikajima Station, pictured above, is the easternmost station in the Kanto Region.

 

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Nure-sembei (moist rice cracker) ice cream, produced by local high school students

 

     As mentioned earlier, the railway has faced closure a number of times. However, thanks to the popularity of nure-sembei (moist rice crackers), which Choshi Electric Railway originally produced to supplement the line's dwindling income, the railway earns twice as much profit as they do from the actual train fares, and has overcome such troubled times. Above is nure-sembei ice cream, a new product developed by students from a local high school.

 

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At Kasagami-Kurohae Station, the only place on the line where trains can pass in opposite directions

 

     Whether or not you are a big fan of trains, the Choshi Electric Railway is a must if you go to Choshi. The railway is by far one of the best locations to enjoy Choshi’s rich natural scenery and nostalgic atmosphere. In addition to sightseeing at Choshi’s many popular tourist attractions like the Choshi Electric Railway, you can also enjoy activities like dolphin watching all year round! Currently, visitors can enjoy the dolphin watching coastal course. For more information, please see the link below: 

 

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  Kozaki Sakagura Festival (Kozaki Town)


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Giant banner in front of Kozaki Station welcomes visitors to the Sakagura Festival 

     Tucked away along the northern border of Chiba Prefecture is Kozaki Town. Wedged between the cities of Narita and Katori, Kozaki’s population of about 6,500 people makes it the smallest town in Chiba Prefecture. In Kozaki, there is a movement to revitalize the town through “fermentation.”
     Fermentation is an essential part of sake brewing as well as in Japanese cooking. Kozaki has a number of stores making foods produced through fermentation, including miso, yeast bread, and other fermented food products.

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Countless sake fans wait in line for sake sampling at the Terada Honke brewery

     In 2008, the Nabedana and Terada Honke sake breweries, both located in Kozaki, combined their separately held events into a single one to create what is now the town’s largest event, the Kozaki Sakagura (Sake Brewery) Festival. Just as the name implies, the Nabedana and Terada Honke breweries, which both boast over 300 years of tradition, lead the festivities.

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Guinomi sake cup from the Nabedana brewery

     The Nanohana News crew attended this year’s festival, which was held on Sunday, March 18. The total number of visitors for this year’s festival is estimated to have been about 40,000 people – over 6 times the amount of the town’s total population.

     Visitors were able to tour the insides of brewery facilities, sample the newest and most popular sake brews, and purchase limited edition sake only available at this event. Even if you are not a particularly big fan of sake, there are still tons more to do. Over 200 booths, many of which sold fermented and organic products from Kozaki, lined the streets around Nabedana and Terada Honke, transforming much of the town into a lively market area.
     One step into this festival and you’ll understand why 40,000 visitors came out for this year’s fun...and why it continues to attract more visitors each year.

     Please see the link below for information about this year’s 2012 Kozaki Sakagura Festival:

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  Narita Taiko Festival (Narita City)


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The plaza before the Great Hall of Narita Shinshoji Temple overflows with people 

 

     The Nanohana News staff headed out to Narita on an early Sunday morning on April 15 to see the Narita Taiko Festival. Every year, taiko teams from all over Japan gather in Narita for the annual Narita Taiko Festival.

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Over 700 taiko players perform in unison for the Sengan Hana Daiko

 

     This festival, which is typically held on a Saturday and Sunday in April, opens each morning with an event called the “Sengan Hana Daiko.” Not only is the image of 700 drum performers playing all at once an amazing sight, you can also feel the drums resounding through your whole body and even throughout the entire plaza.

 

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Visitors crowd the streets as they enjoy both shopping and taiko in Narita

 

     After the “Sengan Hana Daiko” performance, the taiko teams spread out throughout Omotesando Street, which links Naritasan Shinshoji Temple and Narita Station. Here, you can watch taiko performances by the invidual teams all along the street. The entire area was bursting with activity as visitors enjoyed both taiko performances while shopping and trying local gourmet specialties while strolling down the traditional townscape of Omotesando Street.

 

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The powerful performance of the Choshi Hanedaiko drummers 

 

     While the Nanohana News staff was walking along the streets, we came upon this group’s performance – the Choshi Hanedaiko Team! Just as the name implies, this form of wadaiko (Japanese drumming) is a tradition from Choshi, located on the northeast tip of Chiba Prefecture. In the Choshi Hanedaiko style, the taiko drum is carried by two drummers. While sandwiching the drums between their necks and ribs to hold the drums firmly in place, drummers leap as they strike the drum; whirl around as they leap; together they float in the air with the drum itself. The most fascinating scene of their performance is the nekase-uchi, where one of the drummers pins his partner down to the ground, all while they both continue to play without missing a beat.


     While you will have to wait another year for this fantastic celebration of drums, you can find out more about the Narita Taiko Festival on the official website: http://nrtm.jp/. (Click on the “English” link to access a brief overview of the event in English.)

 

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  Naritasan Shinshoji Temple (Narita City)

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Steps leading up to the Niomon main gate of Naritasan Shinshoji Temple

 

     The name “Narita” is world famous thanks to Narita International Airport, but that's not all there is to Narita - located approximately just 10 minutes by train from the airport is Naritasan Shinshoji Temple.

 

     One of the most famous temples in the Kanto Region, Naritasan Shinshoji Temple was originally founded in 940 and is dedicated to Fudo Myo’o, the god of fire. A number of the temple’s structures have been dedicated as National Important Cultural Properties, including the Niomon main gate, pictured above, as well as the Komyodo and Shakado Halls. Narita Shinshoji Temple attracts over ten million visitors a year.

 

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  Throngs of people come to join in the festivities of the Setsubun Ceremony

 

     Many of the temple’s visitors come to attend the fantastic festivals and events held here throughout the year. Coming up is the Setsubun Ceremony on Friday, February 3, 2012.

 

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Straining to catch the lucky beans thrown by celebrity guests 

 

     While Setsubun is a tradition commonly celebrated throughout Japan, the Setsubun Ceremony at Naritasan Shinshoji Temple is a particularly grand occasion. Each year, actors, sumo wrestlers, and other famous figures join in the mamemaki (“bean throwing”) ritual at Shinshoji Temple. Actors Ken’ichi Matsuyama, Hiroshi Tamaki, Naoto Fujiki, Kyoko Fukada, and Yasuko Matsuyama, as well as sumo wrestlers Hakuho, Baruto, Kisenosato, and Okinoumi are scheduled to participate in this year’s mamemaki ritual.

      

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Plum blossoms of Naritasan Park in bloom

 

     Another such event is the Narita Plum Festival, where visitors can come enjoy the sight of the delicate white and red plum blossoms at Naritasan Park. This year the festival will be held from February 11 to March 11.          

    Also, another popular spring event is the Narita Taiko Festival, scheduled for April 14-15. Don’t forget to mark it on your calendars! You can find out more about the Narita Taiko Festival on the official website: http://nrtm.jp/. (Click on the “English” link to access a brief overview of the event in English.)

  

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