Sawara town also has a long history. In the Edo period (1603-1867), Sawara thrived as a commercial town. As an important distribution center for products shipped on the Tone River and its tributary, the Ono River, markets were held and merchants gathered in Sawara. Brewing of sake, soy sauce and miso were launched here in the Edo period and has continued down to the present day. Because it was a commercial town, the town had a free and energetic atmosphere, and the cultural level of heads of merchant families was high. Ino Tadataka (1745-1818), who created the first detailed and accurate maps of all Japan, was born in Kujukuri, Chiba Prefecture, and was adopted into the Ino Family that ran a brewery in Sawara. Impressive merchant houses and storehouses from more than 100 years ago still stand along the Ono River, which reminds visitors that Sawara was called “Little Kyoto.”
-Suigo Sawara Dashi Kaikan (Float Museum)
The Sawara Festival takes place twice every year, in summer and autumn. Ten floats are paraded in summer and another 14 floats are displayed in autumn. Gorgeous floats decorated with large dolls are on display in this museum.
- Boat Tours in Sawara
Old buildings along the Ono River also can be seen from boats. Ino Tadataka lived for about 30 years in the old Ino Tadataka residence, of which the main building and shop are preserved. Nakamuraya store’s building was built in 1855 and a building of the tsukudani (food boiled down in sweetened soy) food shop Shojo was built in 1832.
- Katori Jingu Shrine
This old shrine is said to have been originally established more than 2,600 years ago and it is one of the most venerable shrines in Japan along with Kashima Jingu Shrine in Kashima, Ibaraki Prefecture. As the god of war is enshrined within, many warlords and also the Imperial family worshipped at this shrine. Documents recording that warlords such as Minamoto no Yoritomo in the 12th century and Ashikaga Takauji in the 14th century donated money to the shrine are preserved. Sawara was also a temple town (shrine town) of Katori Jingu.