I have just spent two hours in a car, driving from Tokyo but standing here I have to admit it was totally worth it. The view from the observation tower on top of the Byobugaura cliffs is breathtaking; the thought that the nearest landmass is US soil, awe inspiring.
Known among the Japanese as Dover of the East, the Byobugaura inlet lies on the northeast coast of Chiba, near the small town of Choshi. The nickname comes from the area's long history of marine erosion, which has caused the resemblance to the White Cliffs of Dover. The actual name is a combination of the Japanese words for "folding screen" and "inlet".
A tourist watches in awe.
Three geological strata can be seen here: the Kanto Loam, the Katori and the Naarai. Past eruptions of Mount Fuji have contributed to the coloration of the Kanto Loam stratum. The cliffs cover a 10km (6.2 mile) long part of the coast, which pedestrians can access from several points. The 2011 tsunami hit this area hard so some visibly damaged parts of the promenade are now closed to the public.
The Byobugaura Beach is popular with surfers, families as well as people gathering shellfish. The cliffs are a safe heaven for falcons and other birds looking to create a nest so wildlife photographers and bird watchers line the promenade for hours on end during the breeding season. The walk along the promenade takes about an hour so by the time I am back to the starting point I am looking for a place to have lunch.
The internet has got my back and it sends me to the port of the nearby town of Choshi for what turns out to be the highlight of the trip: the Kyuroku restaurant near the port. The extensive menu offers customers a variety of options but, unable as I am to make a decision when confronted with too many good options, I go big and order one of the larger teishoku meals. My company does the same and a few minutes later our table is covered in bowls and dishes, large and small. The fish is fresh and extremely tasty, as is everything else. We wash it down with some green tea and head out again.
Shellfish collectors & photographers
Peregrine falcon nesting
Choshi is mainly famous for its centuries-old soy sauce producers, Yamasa and Higeta. Both companies offer tours of their plants, which you will not leave empty-handed. Then there is the fish market, popular with both tourists and the locals. Having had enough seafood to last me a lifetime, I buy a local beer sold at one of the market's stalls.
The fish market
Meals at Kyuroku Restaurant
The sun is starting to set but before we leave we decide to visit the 110-year-old lighthouse of Cape Inubo, from which we can see a part of the inlet cluttered by rocks. The repetitive sound of waves crushing on them and the soft, golden light are the perfect note on which to end a day trip. We just sit there for a while, taking it all in, then head to the car and get ready to face the evening traffic.
Waves crushing on rocks
Access from Tokyo: Choshi Station on the Sobu, Narita and Shiosai lines.
Don't forget to make an appointment for the soy sauce factory tour!