Chiba (pop. 880,000) is the 13th largest Japanese city and the capital of Chiba prefecture. Chiba city is effectively an eastern suburb of Tokyo.
Located on Tokyo Bay, the Port of Chiba is the lifeblood of the local economy. Central Chiba has a few department stores including Sogō and Mitsukoshi.
Chiba's main business district in Makuhari, halfway between central Chiba and Funabashi. Redevelopment of the area started in the 1970's, and Makuhari has turned into the new de facto economic pole of the Chiba prefecture since the 1990's. Many major companies have offices, including the headquarters of the second largest Japanese retailer, Æon, and the head office of IBM Japan. Offices aside, Makuhari has enough shopping centres, outlets, amusement malls and hotels to satisfy the tens of thousands of employees working there.
The Makuhari Messe (幕張メッセ) is a large convention center hosting high-technology events. The most famous are the annual Tokyo Auto Salon in January, the annual Tokyo Game Show (video game hardware and software exhibition) in September, the bi-annual Tokyo Motor Show in October, and the annual Jump Festa (manga, anime, and video game exposition) in December.
The Chiba Marine Stadium, home field of the local baseball team, the Chiba Lotte Marines, is also located in the district, on the Mihama water front.
Chiba is not a major tourist destination, but its proximity from both Tokyo and Narita Airport make it an easy day trip.
The main attraction is the 5-storey Chiba Castle. Although it is a merely ferroconcrete reconstruction, it is large enough to be appreciated, and is picturesque during the cherry-blossom season (early April). The original castle was first built in 1126.
The city's aerial monorail (attached by the roof) is a fun way to explore the city. Take it to navigate between the port (Chiba Minato station), Chiba station and Chiba castle (Kenchō-mae station).
How to get there
From Tokyo Station, take the JR Keiyō line to Chiba Minato, then change to the city monorail or walk inside the city.