City life can be overwhelming sometimes, but in today's world where urban sprawl makes it harder and harder to find a place to get away from the buzz of it all, finding a quiet spot surrounded by nature can be priceless. As it turns out, one of the prettiest places like this in Chiba is practically free.
Mihama-en is a lush and beautiful traditional Japanese garden located in Chiba City. A breath of fresh air amidst the bustling Makuhari New City area, Mihama-en makes visitors feel far, far away from modern urban life. It is operated by the adjacent Makuhari Seaside Park, and costs only ¥100 for adults, and ¥50 for children.
Beautiful stone paths wind through the cloud tree-lined gardens, over small brooks, around a peaceful pond, past the summer house, and through the beautiful landscaping. Features of the garden represent mountains, rivers, seas, and forests. The trees look absolutely beautiful when the leaves turn colors in autumn, and plum blossoms can be seen in the spring. The skyscrapers of the surrounding areas are intentionally used for background imagery. Bridges, benches, lawns and nature fill the space, making for a peaceful walking area, a haven for photographers, or a quiet place to sit and relax.
There is a traditional teahouse called Shorai-tei in the garden as well. Guests can drink green tea and eat sweets there for an additional ¥400, which can be arranged at the entrance gate to give preparation time for the food and drinks. Shorai-tei also hosts traditional tea ceremonies and outdoor tea parties with prior reservation. The teahouse is open from 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Travelers sometimes rightly gripe that some "traditional style" sightseeing spots are no more than synthesized tourist traps that merely represent cultural aspects. Mihama-en, however, is the real deal; it is a carefully maintained garden laid out in traditional style. One visit here saw four different groups of Japanese people dressed in formal kimono posing for photographs with professional photographers, likely for photos for a wedding or other ceremony.
Mihama-en is open from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. in winter (from September to April) and 8:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. in summer (May to August). Admission to the gardens ends a half hour before closing time.
Mihama-en is located in the Makuhari New City area of Chiba City, near Makuhari Messe and the hotels and businesses surrounding it. It is about a ten minute walk from JR Kaihin Makuhari Station (Keiyo and Musashino Lines, and also some trains on the Uchibo and Sotobo Lines), and there are many English signs in the area pointing to it and other nearby points of interest. There are also many busses from the train station to the areas near Mihama-en and Makuhari Messe.