Sawara Canal – Chiba | Travel Information

Sawara Canal boat

Sawara Canal, located in the small rural town of Katori, is a historic region of Japan that played an essential role in the transportation of rice to the capital during the Edo Period of Japan (1603-1867).  The Sawara Canal is more popularly known as ‘Little Edo’, which means little Tokyo (Edo was the former name of Tokyo), due to the significance this rural village had several centuries ago.  Many businesses flourished in the Edo period all thanks to the Sawara Canal which allowed for easy transport of heavy goods.

While ‘Little Edo’ is mainly used to describe Kawagoe, the Sawara Edo canals also do take the name. Around the Canal, there are numerous historic shops and buildings that have been preserved and maintained for hundreds of years. The Sawara Canal has a very similar aesthetic to the Kurashiki Canal in Okayama Prefecture, which was used for the same purpose some 400 years ago.  However, the stylisation of the buildings is completely different from the Kurashiki region, which showcases the differences in regional architecture across Japan in the 1600’s. 

Walking through Sawara Canals can really feel as if you have take a step back into history. You can even take a historic boat ride on the traditional style flat-bottom boats which were used to traverse these shallow waters that merchants used to use to deliver their goods.

The town of Sawara hosts a bi annual festival named the Sawara Matusi, where large floats travel through the streets during July & October when the festival takes place. These floats often have statues depicting deitys and other Japanese legends.

Sawara Canal

Outside of the festival times, you can see examples of these floats at the Dashi Kaikan Museum, which is only a short 2 minute walk away from the historic canal.

Accessing the Sawara Canal

The Sawara Canal area is located only a short 10-15 minute walk from Sawara Station.

Now Sawara Station can be acced from Narita Station, along the Narita Line, for 500JPY. This journey will take approximately 30 minutes on the train. 

Where To Stay near Sawara Canal

Nearby Attractions


Nokogiriyama (Mt. Nokogiri) is a mountain located on the Boso Peninsula. It has a total height of 330m (approx. 1080ft) and contains one of the oldest temples in the region – Nihon-ji Temple. Nihon-ji Temple has a history that dates back roughly 1300 years, and as such was one of the first places of worship in the Kanto region of Japan. 

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