• Home
  • About Chiba
  • What to do
  • Areas
  • Plan your trip
  • Transportation
  • Travel Tips

Home > Plan your trip > Sakura & Shisui Model Day Trip

Main article starts here.

Updated:December 24, 2020

Sakura and Shisui Model Day Trip

Stop 1: JR Sakura Station

・Old Samurai Road "Hiyodorizaka Slope"
・The Samurai Houses of Sakura

Stop 2: JR Minami-Shisui Station

・Sakagura Cafe
・Shisui Magariya at the Iinumahonke Sake B
rewery

The city of Sakura and the neighboring town of Shisui are great destinations for visitors looking to do some sightseeing in a location that is close to Narita Airport. We started this tour at JR Sakura Station, which is just two train stations away from JR Narita Station.

Stop 1: JR Sakura Station

20201201_Sakura1
Rental bikes at the tourist information center outside of JR Sakura Station's North Exit.

20201201_Sakura2
We rode the rental bikes for about 10 minutes and parked them at The Samurai Houses of Sakura.

Hiyodorizaka Slope:
Our first destination of the day was the Sakura Buke-Yashiki, otherwise known as The Samurai Houses of Sakura. We rented electric bikes from the tourist information center at JR Sakura Station, and rode for about one kilometer (about a 15-minute walk) and parked at the samurai houses. Before entering the grounds though, we took a walk to the nearby old samurai road known as Hiyodorizaka Slope. The scenes along this bamboo-lined walking path are said to have hardly changed since the days of the samurai. Nowadays, the slope is a popular spot for people looking for a perfect backdrop for their social media post. Some people even rent a kimono or hakama just to come here to take a photo.

20201201_Sakura3
The entrance to the Hiyodorizaka Slope.

20201201_Sakura4
The bamboo-lined pathway.

Samurai Houses of Sakura:
Once we returned the top of the slope, we headed to the entrance of the Samurai Houses of Sakura. Sakura was an influential castle town during Japan’s Edo period (1603-1867) and these three old samurai houses and the property they share are vestiges of that storied past. The oldest of these three houses, the Tajima family house, has remained at this site since it was built in the early 1800’s, while the other two were relocated here from the surrounding areas. Visitors can tour around the property, enter two of the houses, and view artifacts that were excavated from the original properties.

20201201_Sakura5

20201201_Sakura6

20201201_Sakura10

20201201_Sakura8

20201201_Sakura9

20201201_Sakura7

If you’re interested in Japanese history, you may want to consider spending a whole day in Sakura, as the National Museum of Japanese History, Sakura Castle Ruins Park, and other historical sites are nearby the samurai houses. The entrance to the park is about 700 meters (about a 10-minute walk) from the samurai houses, and the museum is just on the other side of the park. There is even a Sakura City themed RPG smartphone game, Tenrin’s Sakura, that you can download in English or Japanese, to play while you tour around Sakura. To learn more about the historical sites in Sakura, please visit the Sakura City English sightseeing website: http://sakuraseeing.city.sakura.lg.jp/en/discover/( External link )

Google Maps Plus Codes:
The Samurai Houses of Sakura: P68G+M2 Sakura, Chiba
Old Samurai Road, Hiyodorizaka Slope: P68C+PV Sakura, Chiba

Stop 2: JR Minami-Shisui Station

20201201_Shisui1
JR Minami-Shisui Station.

20201201_Shisui2
Just follow the signs for Sakagura Cafe.

Sakagura Cafe:
We took the train one stop from JR Sakura to JR Minami-Shisui Station, headed for “Shisui Magariya at the Iinumahonke Sake Brewery,” a famous family-owned sake brewery in Chiba with over 300 years of history located in the rural town of Shisui. With its history and its countryside setting, Shisui Magariya is a great place to experience traditional sake brewing that makes use of local ingredients and classical techniques, fused with modern day knowhow and technology. First though, we stopped for lunch Sakagura Café, which is inside the main Shisui Magariya building. The staff recommended their delicious curry lunch plate, cooked with sake kasu (a paste-like cooking ingredient made of the lees left over from sake production). The building also has a sake gift shop on the first floor, and an art gallery on the second and third floors.

20201201_Shisui3
Sakagura Cafe.

20201201_Shisui4
Curry lunch set, topped with sake kasu (sake lees).

Shisui Magariya at the Iinumahonke Sake Brewery
After our meal, it was time for the brewery tour. Iinumahonke is more than just a sake brewing company, they are also committed to promoting sake culture by holding community events such as their morning market, and renovating the centuries-old buildings on the brewery grounds. They are also engaged in promoting their sake all over Japan and in overseas markets. Their foundation in sake culture is said to date back centuries ago when the brewery was established by village leaders who started making sake with the annual rice tax they collected from local farmers.

One of the brewers, Mr. Mikogami gave us a tour of the brewery and explained the sake making process at each step along the way. Iinumahonke produced an English language guide of the brewing process which helped me understand some of the more technical aspects of the explanation. We were also shown some of the traditional sake brewing equipment and tanks that are preserved on site, and we were able to compare it to the machinery that they use today. Mr. Mikogami also showed us how the rice is washed and sorted and how they select rice that will result in the best tasting sake.

All that information helped us appreciate the last stage of the tour, a tasting of three of their recommended sake varieties. Mr. Mikogami helped us understand and appreciate the differences in the taste, aroma, and texture of each. I particularly enjoyed Kinoene Junmai-ginjoshu, a 2019 Sake Awards Gold Prize winner. Mr. Mikogami explained how they use the natural flavors of the rice to create the rich and fragrant taste of Kinoene Junmai-ginjoshu, inspiring me to bring a bottle home as a souvenir!

20201201_Shisui5

20201201_Shisui8

20201201_Shisui6

20201201_Shisui7

20201201_Shisui9

20201201_Shisui10

Shisui Magariya at the Iinumahonke Sake Brewery
Google Maps Plus Code: P75C+HP Shisui, Chiba
https://www.iinumahonke.co.jp/( External link )