Edo Period Matsudojuku was a stop on the highway to Mito, a vast pasture land for the shogun’s horses, and the farmland that fed the growing city of Tokyo. Today Matsudo City, just over the Edo River from Katsushika Ward, is a bedroom community for Tokyo. This small city full of period atmosphere is a not to be missed day trip destination from Tokyo.
Temples and Shrines
Matsudo Shrine close to Matsudo Station is a sleepy place most of the year. However, it captures attention in spring, when the cherry blossoms burst into bloom. Again in summer, it entrances visitors as the site of the Sakagawa Lantern Festival.
On either side of Kita-Koganei Station are picturesque temples. To the west is Hondoji, a Nichiren sect temple with a garden of hydrangeas and irises in June, higanbana spider lilies in September, and autumn foliage in November and December. To the east is Tozenji, a Jodo sect temple famed for its weeping cherry trees.
Manmanji temple just outside the east exit of Mabashi Station on the Joban local line has a gate in the Kamakura Period style and houses two imposing Nio guardian deity statues, recognized as important cultural treasures. At New Year and near the spring and autumn equinoxes, parishioners are invited to squeeze through the space between the feet of the Nio statues to ensure health and safety.
Gardens and Parks
Forest and Park of the 21st Century is a sprawling green space. This park has wide lawns and paths for strolling, a satoyama landscape, and a wildlife preserve for birds. Visitors can picnic and bird watch.
At a few dozen farms in Matsudo, visitors can pick fresh nashi, Japanese pears from August until October. Admission to the farms is free, with fees for picking and direct sales. Within easy walk of Higashi Matsudo Station is Takaai Farm where customers can pick their own fruits.
Matsudo Museum within the Forest and Park of the 21st Century transports you back in time to the early history of the region, and has a reconstruction of a Showa Period tenement building, complete with household goods. Close to Higashi Matsudo Station is Showa no Mori Museum, s a mecca for Showa Period transportation buffs, with a great selection of vehicles, train cars, and household goods that reveal the life of Showa Japan.
Dining and Shopping
Matsudo is famed for its ramen shops, represented by two exceptional restaurants. Tonikaku is highly rated for its tonkotsu broth for tsukemen ramen and abura soba. Chuka Soba Tomita Ramen is the big draw, consistently rated as one of the best ramen shops in Japan, with its special tokusei ramen.
As an alternative to the more famous fish market in Tokyo, consider a visit to Nanbu Ichiba. It’s less crowded by visitors, but boasts a fish auction, great shopping, and dining.
For leisurely meals try Ittoku, a neighborhood favorite that serves beautifully presented and delicious bistro food inspired by Japanese and British cuisine.
Finish your evening at Brennan’s Irish Bar, the only Irish-owned establishment of its kind in Chiba, and recipient of annual endorsements for perfectly poured pints of Guinness.