The first sunrise of the year is considered very important in the land of the rising sun. They call it 初日の出 (Hastsuhinode) which literally translates to the first sunrise. We learned that a place called Inubou-saki on the eastern tip of Chiba prefecture is the first place in Honshu, which is the main island of Japan, to see the first sunrise. If you go through some of the photos in my gallery, you will realize that the sun is one of my favorite subject and I thought I can not let this chance pass.
First Sunrise January 1, 2014
Around December 29, 2013, we decided to push through with the trip. But wait! The sunrise was forecasted to occur before 7am, and we are a good 3-4 hours away from Inubou-saki. The only way we will be able to do it is if we stay near or around Inubou-saki the day before. We searched around and consulted my favorite website japan-guide on the best way to approach the place.
And here's how we did it. We decided to stay in a small historic town called Sawara in Chiba that is famous for its historic riverside area with many old and traditional Japanese houses. On our way there on the morning of December 30, 2013, we decided to stop at Narita Station and took a stroll to the Naritasan Temple. It is considered as one of the best and biggest Buddhist temple in Japan. It is not very well known although its only a few minutes away from the very popular Narita Airport.
The main street towards the temple called Omotesando. Lined with shops. many of the shops sells eels and chestnuts. Just after the shops, you will notice a big traditional gate on your left. When you enter, you will see a smaller elevated entrance. Look on the pond on both sides and you will see a lot of turtles.
sleepers tied to the door
A small pagoda on the right side
an old structure that used to function as a resting place for horses and horsemen after the building above, we came across this pavillion a typical thing to do when you are in a temple in Japan is to write your wishes on a piece of paper and tie it to trees and or fences near a pavillion
The main pagoda is probably the biggest pagoda we've seen yet
Here we are...
Sheena pretending to clap and pray
another angle of the pagoda
on the far end of the temple, there is a big elongated pond. It was serene, cool and almost deserted.
After a couple of hours in Narita, we headed to Sawara where we slept for the night. Sawara is a very small and sleepy town about an hour away from Narita.
We woke up at 3am on January 1, 2014, got ready and walked towards the station. The station opened at around 4am. We took the first train out to Choshi, which is the main town just north of Inubou-saki.
At Choshi, we got off the modern train, bought this roundtrip ticket below and hop on a two-car diesel "chug-chug" train. It was very packed and almost felt like riding the Yamanote line during rush hour but it was only around 530am.
when we arrived in Inubou-saki, we felt the typical vibe that accompanies any big event or festival in Japan. We walked for 10-15 minutes towards the boulevard and everybody was there to witness the first sunrise of the year and what I sight it was.
the first sunrise another shot of the boulevard
the view was stunning, although the white building on the right is already closed. it says "a parking lot with views of the first sunrise"
Sheena, dreaming! ha!
the beautiful Inubou-saki lighthouse
Post office in Japan is very popular and many people try to find unusual post boxes. I saw the only black post box in Enoshima and this is also the only white post box I saw in my entire stay in Japan. Most of the boxes come in red.
just fooling around
Sheena fooling around with a baby dinosaur
went back to the station
here's the chug-chug train on our way back to Choshi
and we're back in Sawara! It was beautiful... and deserted because it was a public holiday. No tourists, no open shops and we had the street all to ourselves.
According to japan-guide, Sawara is a small town northeast of Narita City that prospered during the Edo Period (1603-1867). Sawara's historic center lies along a canal and is known as "Litte Edo" for its small district of preserved and restored traditional residences, merchant shops and warehouses from the Edo Period.
beautiful vintage window... notice how thick it is.
typically, you don't see many flags in Japan but in this town we saw 4 or 5 flags. we just had to pose beside it.
one of the famous attraction was the waterfall bridge
an old storage
somebody was enjoying the serene old-town
some corks we saw on the side of the road
cute toys on the kitchen window of one of the houses in Sawara
and yours truly!
the end! It was a blast! an exciting 2 day trip to experience one of the most celebrated events in Japan.
I hope you enjoyed the post!!