Takayoshi Sakuma (since June 2003)
| Teikyo Heisei University, Teikyo Heisei Nursing Junior College|
Ichihara (, Ichihara-shi) is a city located in Chiba Prefecture, Japan.
As of April 2012, the city has an estimated population of 279,065 and a population density of 758 persons per km². The total area is 368.20 km².
The city is home, together with Chiba City, to the JEF United soccer team.
Ichihara is located in the western part of the Boso Peninsula, and geographically is the largest of Chiba Prefectures cities and towns. The highly industrialized northern part of the city sits on Tokyo Bay, while the southern part of the city is primarily mountainous. Ichihara, dense in housing developments, serves as a satellite town of Tokyo and Chiba City.
The area of modern Ichihara is the center of ancient Kazusa province. The ruins of the Nara period Kazusa kokubun-ji have been found within the borders of Ichihara, although the exact location of the Nara-period provincial capital remains uncertain. During the Sengoku period, the area was contested between the Chiba clan to the north, and the Satomi clan to the south. During the Edo period, the area was divided between Goi Domain, Tsurumaki Domain and large areas of tenryo territory controlled directly by the Tokugawa shogunate and administered by various hatamoto. During the Meiji period, the area was reorganized into 171 villages under Ichihara District, Chiba Prefecture. By 1945, these villages had been consolidated into five towns and 16 villages. Through further consolidation and mergers, the city of Ichihara was founded on May 1, 1963. On October 1, 1967, the neighboring town of Nanso, and village of Kamo were merged into Ichihara.
The citys economy is fueled by a large industrial complex overlooking Tokyo Bay. It contains the largest number of oil refineries in Japan, as well as power, petrochemical and shipbuilding companies.
The traditional diet of Chiba Prefecture is not fundamentally different than that of the rest of Japan. Chiba Prefecture produces prolific quantities of rice across all areas in the prefecture, vegetables in the northern area of the prefecture, and fish, seafood, and shellfish along the coastal areas of the prefecture. Choshi has been a major center of worldwide soy sauce production since the Edo period, and the prefecture remains the top producer in Japan. Kikkoman is headquartered in Noda in northwestern Chiba Prefecture. These are all important components of Japanese cuisine.
Certain local products, however, are grown in abundance and have resulted in several dishes unique to the areas. Peanuts, grown in great quantities in the prefecture, appear fresh in markets in the prefecture and are eaten boiled as a snack. Miso made from peanuts instead of soy beans is also produced in Chiba. Takenoko, whole bamboo shoot, are harvested in the central part of the Boso Peninsula. The takenoko of Otaki lack the concentration of arsenic typically found in uncooked bamboo shoots, and as such, are uniquely eaten raw in the area as "takenoko sashimi". Futomaki or futomakizushi, literally "fat roll", is a large version of the sushi roll. The futomaki popularly made in Chiba Prefecture is up to 4 inches in diameter. Futomaki in Chiba Prefecture often utilize various ingredients to form a pattern, such as a flower or a kanji character, when the roll is cut and served.