The charming old castle town of Makabe is located in the foothills of Mt. Tsukuba, not far from Tokyo. It flourished as a regional cultural and industrial center from the Edo through Taisho periods. About 300 traditional storefronts, warehouses, and gates remain, as well as the original street plan from 400 years ago. The Makabe Denshokan, a former guardhouse, now houses a historical museum. Pick up a map there and stroll around town to take in the buildings registered as cultural assets. The Hina-matsuri (Hina Doll Festival) in Makabe is held annually from the beginning of February to early March. The old stores, and some homes, share their elaborate doll displays with visitors.