Every October this small town, some 70km NW of Tokyo, goes into full-on celebration mode with an exuberant festival, or 'matsuri'. Gigantic, eerily lifelike 'dolls' are paraded through the streets on floats, complete with attendants and musicians in full traditional costume. Everyone turns out to graze on uniquely Japanese fast-food from the dozens of street stalls, take boat-trips down the Ono river and peek into some of the beautiful old houses - rare survivals in modern Japan. We stumbled across it by chance as it seems to be ignored by the major guidebooks, and had a wonderful day there. A real not-to-be-missed event if you're anywhere near at the right time.
Sawara, Chiba Prefecture. 1 hr 30 mins by bus from Tokyo Station on the Keisei Line, or 30 mins from Narita Airport.
Google map: bit.ly/fd1OYt
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com