It’s almost summer, and that means it’s time to start planning those weekend beach trips. In Kanto, there are two directions you can head in. The more popular choice for tourists is to go west to Kanagawa, but if you head east out to Chiba you’re spoilt for choice.
It’s hard to understand why the prefecture of peanuts and Funassyi gets so overlooked at this time of year by visitors to Japan. It may take a little while to get down there (about an hour and a half to two hours from Tokyo), but you can find some of the most beautiful beaches in Japan along Chiba’s Pacific coast.
The whole coast is dotted with sandy stretches, and whether you’re looking for a family orientated spot, a quieter place, or somewhere to surf, you can find it in Chiba. After a certain point on the JR Uchibo line, you can get off at pretty much any stop and step onto a beach. Here are five of the best.
1 Okitsu Beach (興津海水浴場)
My first choice is Okitsu. Just a short walk from the station, this beach has clean sand and shallow water to swim in, so it’s a popular place for families to go. On the beach you can hire parasols, beach towels and more to get as comfortable as you want.
The great thing about Okitsu, though, is the view to the side. It is flanked to the south by beautiful hills full of lush greenery. You can spend as much time gazing at them as you can swimming in the clear waters.
2. Ubara Beach (鵜原海水浴場)
Once you get down from the long, concrete steps, you get to another beach surrounded by beautiful hills and white cliffs. It is like a huge cove as the beach goes around in a semi-circle, so you are just facing the Pacific Ocean, and it feels as if there is nothing there but you, the beach and the water.
One interesting quirk of this part of the coast, is that about a half century or more ago, there was a ship carrying ceramics which got caught in a typhoon. The ship sank, and to this day you can find broken, but perfectly preserved, bits of pottery which have washed up onto the beach.
3. Ichinomiya Beach (一宮海水浴場)
As I’ve already mentioned, surfing is a popular activity down in Chiba, and the place to do it is at Ichinomiya. Part of the incredible 66km Kujukuri beach, this place is popular because of its high and volatile waves.
fto mizno on Flickr
There’s no need to go there only in summer either. Surfers head down in all four seasons, keen not to miss the action. If you’re not into water sports, though, it’s still worth going down. There is a long cycle route you can ride along and enjoy the view.
4. Okinoshima (沖ノ島海水浴場)
If you head down to Tateyama, you’ll find a bit of a natural wonder. This was once a separate beach and island, but in 1923 there was a huge earthquake which raised the sea floor, and created a natural bridge to Okino Island.
snotch on Flickr
The beach is also famous because you can see coral. This is the northernmost point in the world where you can go swimming, snorkelling and see coral. Any further and it would be impossible.
There is also an interesting little manmade cave here. During World War II, it was carved out as a place for soldiers to hide out and watch the seas, but now it’s just a cool place to hang out.
5. Iwai Beach (岩井海水浴場)
One of the busier choices, Iwai beach is perfectly set up for a day with the family, a group of friends, or even a date. The beach is only 2km, and it has calm and shallow waters. For this reason, many people feel it’s a good choice to relax and enjoy yourself without having to worry.
Masako T on Flickr
Because of this, the area caters well for visitors, with shops and so on. Also during the summer there are events such as fireworks displays during the holidays. It’s just another option among many along Chiba’s breath-taking coast.