Attractions in Sawara and Katori City, Chiba prefecture


Sawara 佐原 in Katori city,香取市 Chiba prefecture, is an old town lies in a natural waterway district known for its cherished old townscape. Sawara is designated as a conservation area for historically important buildings, and the town is often used as a location for filming TV dramas and movies, that is recently making Sawara more popular among tourists from Asian countries.


Sawara Old Town

Sawara was formerly a rice growing region, developed as a logistics base of river transportation to transport rice to Edo City (former Tokyo). Since the development of waterway also so encouraged business in Sawara that wealthy merchants had built solid houese along a stream in the central town, which visitors can still find to this day.

The houses built approx. 100 years ago. Compared with brick houses, wooden houses are hardly preserved.

The Suigo Sawara Municipal Aquatic Botanical Garden
水郷佐原水生植物園(すいごうさわら すいせいしょくぶつえん)

This aquatic botanical garden is the most exquisite Japanese Iris garden in Asia, where 1500 thousand iris flowers in 400 species are displayed. The irises are at their peak from the May to June. In July and August, visitor can enjoy the splendid view of lotus flowers, the largest collection in Japan, including more than 300 kinds. Admission fee varies with season. (500 JP Yen or 700JP Yen).

Small Boat Cruises

One of the most popular attractions in Sawara is waterway cruise, slowly cruising under small bridges called Katozu juunikyou 加藤洲十二橋 (The Twelve Bridges), which is like riding a gondola boat in Venice, Italy. The boat departures from the boarding point near the Suigo Sawara Municipal Aquatic Botanical Garden. The fee for Katozu juunikyou cruise is 6500 JP Yen per boat, up to 5 people. For extra passengers, 1300 JP Yen is added per person.

In Sawara, there are other cruise services available, one in the old town to cruise along Onogawa stream, and other is in the Suigo Sawara Municipal Aquatic Botanical Garden. These would be options for tourists who don’t have much time for Katozu twelve-bride cruise.

Katori-jingu Shrine 香取神宮(かとりじんぐう)

Another popular spot in Katori city other than Sawara town, is definitely Katori-jingu Shrine, one the largest and major Shrines in Japan, founded approx. 2600 years ago. In Japan, there are 400 shrines named “Katori"-jinja(=shrine) and the "Katori"-jingu(=prime shrine) is the head shrine. Katori-jingu Shrine lies in a forest and visitors are to approach a path in the forest toward the precincts of a shrine, while feeling a sense of comfort.

Water Activities

Sawara is also known as a spot where various waters sports can be enjoyed, such as boating, canoeing and fishing. On weekends, cars towing a boat or a jet ski bike can be seen often on streets around there.


As Sawara area in Katori city is located on a flatland, it is perfect for cycling. You will get a great feeling from cycling along Tanbo rice fields. In fact, cycling is the most convenient way to visit tourist spots in Sawara as tourist spots are not located in one place, besides, the public transportation is not much convenient either. For example, the distance between Sawara town and Katori-jingu Shrine is about 4.6km, it would take 1 hour on foot or 10 min by taxi. It is about 9.5km between Sawara Old Town and the Aquatic Botanical Garden, where local bus services are available, but the buses run every one hours or so. (almost every 2 hours on weekdays). Bicycle rental services are available at Tourist information center near JR Sawara Station (1-min walk), at Sawara Machinami Kouryukan (Get-together facility), and the roadside station (Michi-no Eki) on the Tonegawa river side. The rental fee is 300 JP Yen per bike for a day (10:00AM-4:00PM).

Getting there

From Keisei Ueno Station, take Keisei Honsen Line (Travel time 70 min.) and get off at Keisei Narita station. Take an one-min walk to get to JR Narita Station.
From JR Narita Station, take a train on the JR Narita-sen Line JR成田線 and get off at Sawara station 佐原駅 (Travel time: Approx.30 min.).
A 10-min walk from Sawara station to the old district.

* JR Narita-sen is a single-track line and it runs only every one hours or so.
* There are two JR Narita-sen lines. Be sure to take a JR Narita-sen line bound for Matsugishi stn (松岸駅). or Chofu station.(銚子駅)
The Narita-sen (sub)Line bound for Abiko takes you to a totally different place.
* From JR Tokyo Staion (Yaesu Exit), express bus services to Sawara are also available.

Related Websites

Katori City Tourist Information

Sawara Map

Sawara Old town - Katori-jingu Shrine Route Bus (Japanese webpage)

Sawara River Co.,Ltd

Suigo Sawara Tourism Association (Japanese website)

Katori-jingu Shrine (Japanese website)

Sahara tourist info center (Japanese website)

Keisei Bus Service

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