The next journey of enquiry and discovery takes place on the Uchibo and Sotobo railway lines in Chiba Prefecture. Two pairs of travellers will go around Boso Peninsula over three days. Gitan Otsuru and Jun Shibuki will be in charge of the first half of the trip, while Mami Kumagai and Taku Suzuki will take over the second portion of the journey.
The first pair of travellers will start by riding on the Uchibo Line. Established in 1912, it was originally called the Kisarazu Line, operating from Soga Station to Anegasaki Station. The entire line was established in the Taisho era and in 1972, its name was changed to the Uchibo Line.
From Chiba Station in Chiba City, Mr Otsuru and Ms Shibuki take the 9.50am train to Kisarazu Station, 45 minutes away. They ask a local about a famous spot here and are told about Nakanoshima Bridge, which boasts a breathtaking panoramic view of Tokyo Bay, Kisarazu City and even Yokohama Bay Bridge. Nakanoshima Bridge, which connects Nakanoshima Bridge Park and Kisarazu Port, is a popular spot for clam digging. At 236m long and 27m tall, it is also said to be the tallest pedestrian bridge in Japan.
The travellers then drop by Fresh Mart Sanpei, a supermarket that has been loved by the locals for 50 years. It was originally a butcher's shop, but now sells everything from groceries to household goods. This includes about 50 kinds of meat such as beef, pork and chicken. The owner suggests Mr Otsuru and Ms Shibuki check out a restaurant behind the supermarket. Yakitori Sanpei, a small eatery, opened in 1984 and has only eight counter seats. A popular dish here is the roasted pork, which is simmered in a homemade soy sauce-based sauce for an hour. Another favourite, beef shoulder steak, is simply seasoned with butter and a squeeze of lemon, after which soy sauce is added. It is cooked on a hot iron plate.
Mr Otsuru and Ms Shibuki then head by the 2.50pm train to Hamakanaya Station and reach after about 20 minutes. A resident suggests two places - the Kanaya Art Museum and Lovers' Sanctuary. The museum is closed on this day, so the pair goes to the Lovers' Sanctuary, installed next to Kanaya Ferry Terminal in 2010. This romantic monument was designed by Yumi Katsura, a fashion designer. It is said that when a couple rings the “bell of happiness” here at dusk, they will be blessed with eternal love. Many weddings have also been held at the Lovers’ Sanctuary with the bell in the background.
The two travellers continue asking locals for recommendations. A store owner at Kanaya Harbour tells them loquats are famous in Boshu and they should check out the souvenir shop next door. Shokusai Ichiba sells nearly 2,000 local products. It has a dedicated corner for about 200 loquat products such as cookies, sweets and juices. Its most popular product is loquat jelly, which has even been presented to the imperial family.
Mr Otsuru and Ms Shibuki then go to Tateyama Station, six stops away from Hamakanaya, on the 4.30pm train. Onboard, they ask passengers about accommodation spots. One of them suggests Tarobe, a Japanese-style inn with a great view of the ocean. The train reaches Tateyama Station in 25 minutes. The travellers call the inn but it is fully booked. They speak to a lady who owns a bar and she recommends they eat at Oshare Sushi and try their luck at the Tateyama Seaside Hotel. The pair manages to secure two rooms and the lady offers to drive them there. After driving along the coastline for about five minutes, the team reaches the resort hotel. Opened in 1962, all the rooms face the ocean.
After checking in, the pair walks to Oshare Sushi which was recommended earlier. It has been around since 1999. It was in fact renovated three years ago and its name was changed in Umi no Hana. It serves fresh local fish caught on fixed-net fishing boats owned by the store. The sushi is made with locally produced Koshihikari rice by experienced chefs. For sashimi, seasonal fish caught in the waters of south Boso is used. They include yellowstriped butterfish, red seabream, barracuda, Japanese seaperch and Japanese amberjack. The sushi also features locally caught Japanese seaperch and yellowstriped butterfish.
The next morning, Mr Otsuru goes to the hotel's hot spring, which offers a panoramic view of the ocean. It has a private hot spring source and the bath is open for day use also. The hotel's shuttle bus takes him and Ms Shibuki back to Tateyama Station. They then take the train to Chikura Station, two stops away. There, they meet up with the travellers for the second part of the trip, Mami Kumagai and Taku Suzuki.
1) A must-visit attraction near Kisarazu Station is the scenic Nakanoshima Bridge
2) Boshu loquat jelly is one of Boso Peninsula’s popular items