Yesterday was another beautiful October Thursday so we took a day trip to Sawara, a small town located about half an hour north of Narita by train. Sawara is considered one of the most charming towns in the greater Tokyo area. Designated a Historic District by the National Government, the central area of town, located along the Ono River, has many well-preserved merchant houses built between the early 1700’s and the 1940’s. Others that sat in a state of disrepair for many years are now in the process of being restored.

We spent the afternoon exploring this quaint district on foot and also enjoyed a 40 minute boat tour along the river. Just outside town, the Ono River feeds into the much larger Tone River. The tour took us out into the larger river before turning back toward town. From there we were able to look out across the wide open countryside that surrounds Sawara. We also enjoyed the countryside from the train. It was a delight to look out on open fields and to enjoy a big prairie sky on a beautiful sunny day!

Different places in Japan are known for certain foods and Sawara is no exception. Unagi (eel) is it’s specialty so, of course, that’s what we had for lunch. Even had we not tried it last Sunday and discovered how much we liked it, we would have had to try it in Sawara. Fortunately, we enjoyed it just as much the second time around. That still surprises us because, for some reason, we both had the mistaken impression that it would be rubbery and unpleasant. Not true at all! Grilled eel is a rich oily fish but it’s melt in your mouth tender as well as delicious.


3 thoughts on “Sawara

  1. Matt and I could never enjoyed unagi… we had some that was okay but I always thought it tasted like dirt. Kumiko, pleasantly introduced us to hamo, which is pike or conger eel and we loved that! It is too bad you didn’t discover your enjoyment of unagi earlier, then you could have enjoyed Eat Eel Day which is July sometime. It is thought that unagi gives you strength to get through the hot summer.

  2. >Eat Eel Day which is July sometime

    It was July 24 this year.
    My post about it:

    ウナギ (Unagi) is Freshwater eel (that’s the sweet eel on a bowl of rice). アナゴ (Anago) is saltwater eel (that’s used for sushi).
    They taste different.

    Too bad you didn’t go to 佐原 (Sawara) last weekend. There was a huge festival there!

    佐原 (Sawara) was the hometown of 伊能忠孝 (Inou Tadataka). He was the first person to draw a map of Japan.
    He walked the entire country and surveyed it in the 1700’s and drew a surprisingly accurate map.

    His hometown was Sawara and his childhood home is now a museum to him in Sawara.
    (As an adult, he moved to 門前仲町 (Monzen-Nakachou) in Tokyo…and there’s a statue of him there.)

    Anyways, I like 佐原 (Sawara). It’s a very traditional town. Did you ride in the boat on the river?
    The address on the street signs are kinda unique. Rather than block numbers…some addresses there have katakana.

  3. What a very nice day you had in Sawara. We love a river cruise especially if it is accompanied by a guide with info about the area. We had eel “steak” in San Diego a few years ago and found it very tasty…were surprised by both the appearance and the taste!!

    After having spent time recently on the canals of Venice and Amsterdam, seeing the river in Sawara reminded us of a canal.

    Keep on with your adventure!!!!


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