The urban area of Funabashi is a hotbed for people and activities.
However, just one step into an alleyway may lead to a more historic landscape full of temples and shrines, old architecture and remnants of the past.
Funabashi Daijingu Shrine
It is said that this temple, with a history of over 1900 years, was built when Prince Yamato Takeru (*Notes) made his expedition to the Kanto Region.
The largest shrine in the city, the Funabashi Daijingu Shrine holds numerous events throughout the year including ancient Shinto music and dance performances (kagura) and sumo tournaments.
The shrine, which also hosts the"Funabashi Morning Market" (Funabashi Asaichi) and "Tomyodai Festival" (Tomyodai Sai), is an important place for cultural exchanges between the local residents.
Yamato Takeru (or Yamatotakerunomikoto) was a legendary prince and hero of the Yamato Dynasty who lived circa 100 A.D.
In a time when Japan was still divided by large numbers of governing tribes, Yamato Takeru was sent to various regions to spread the sovereignty of the imperial court.
The Tomyodai is a private lighthouse that stands in the precincts of Funabashi Daijingu Shrine.
The structure is 12 meters in height and comprised of Japanese-styled rooms on the first and second floors and a Western style room on the third floor.
During the Edo Period, the lighthouse of Funabashi Daijingu Shrine was the guiding point in the seas of Funabashi, however, in 1868 the tower burned down in a battle.
In 1880, it was rebuilt through the contributions of a local volunteer and played an active part protecting the seas of Funabashi for 15 years as an officially recognized private lighthouse.
It is one of the largest existing lighthouses of its kind in Japan and also a designated tangible folk cultural asset of Chiba Prefecture.
Ebi River and the 13 Bridges
Ebi River is a river that runs in the southern regions of Funabashi.
Legend has it that the name "Funabashi" came about when Prince Yamato Takeru used a boat (fune) as a bridge (hashi) to cross this river during his expedition to the Kanto Region.
There are currently 13 bridges crossing Ebi River, each decorated with a variety of sculptures and bronze statues.
It is believed that the shrine was erected around 810 to 824 A.D.
This shrine has been worshiped as a protector deity for the 23 villages in its environs, and attracts many people to the annual spring and fall festivals and ancient Shinto music and dance performances (kagura).
As well, nearly 100,000 people gather for the grand "Shimousamiyama no Shichinen Matsuri" (Shimousamiyama's Seven Year Festival), which takes place every seven years (including the year it is held).
Funabashi Gotenato and Toshogu
The "Funabashi Goten" (Funabashi Palace) was built around 1614 to lodge General Ieyasu Tokugawa on his way to go hunting in Eastern Chiba.
The palace was lost in later generations, however, the small shrine and stone monuments of the Toshogu that was built for the general to pray in, still remain at the same location.
Japanese confectionery store/dry goods store
The Japanese-style buildings of Hirosechokusendo (a Japanese confectionery store) and Morita Gofukuten (a dry goods store) built in the Meiji Era, face one another on opposite sides of Honcho-dori street.
Their appearance is even more striking today, as the two substantial traditional houses are towered over by high-rise apartments and buildings.
The Fudoin temple belongs to the Shingon Buddhist sect. The Great Buddha sitting at the temple’s entrance was initially build to repose the souls of lives lost in a tsunami. However, after the early 1800s, the Buddha was also used to commemorate two representative fishermen who died in prison following a neighboring battle over fishing grounds.
This memorial ceremony, called the "Daibutsu Tsuizenkuyou" takes place each year on February 28.