- Cate Bissell
Surfing in Ichinomiya!
I surfed at Ichinomiya Beach, in Chiba prefecture. Read more to find out about my experience, plus what other fun things you can do in the town of Ichinomiya!
What is Ichinomiya like?
Last December I surfed at Ichinomiya Beach in Chiba prefecture. I had been surfing weekly in Niigata prefecture with my friend. But the waves in Niigata are small and not too consistent. We decided we wanted to change things up a bit and challenge ourselves. The next closest surfing spot happened to be a famous one, so we hopped in the car for a quick weekend trip to Chiba!
What is Chiba like?
Chou inaka. That's a Japanese phrase meaning "super countryside." Chiba prefecture seems like a whole lot of nothing, especially after passing through Tokyo just an hour before. It reminds me a lot of Nagano prefecture, where I live. But as you get close to the sea, it's surf shop after surf shop. I realized it was the exact sort of town I've always dreamed of living in. But the houses are all spread out with large rice paddy fields in between each one, very different from the typical image of Japan.
A famous food in Chiba is namerou, which is a type of fish. So of course that was our first meal. When it was served to us, I started having second thoughts based on its puke-like consistency. But the taste is amazing! So definitely be sure to check it out if you're ever in Chiba.
We stayed at an old Japanese house, turned hostel, called Guest House PRETA TORAMI. Because it was December we were the only guests on the first floor. There was one other man staying there, from Australia, who stayed on the second floor. The owner was very kind and kept it nice and warm, as well as offered us tips on where to surf and places to eat. He also rented us boards for a good price.
Guest House PRETA TORAMI
And the surf?
We went out to surf immediately, but were met with choppy conditions and both had trouble catching waves. When the sun went down the cold became unbearable, even with our 5/4mm wetsuits.
So our next stop was Shirako Onsen, to defrost our bones. I was the only one in the woman's bath and my friend told me he was the only one in the men's bath. It was an incredible experience, having an entire large onsen all to myself.
For dinner, we had acai bowls, which we both love, and then headed to the beach to look at the stars. Unbeknownst to us, however, there was a meteor shower that night, and I saw five meteors!! Unfortunately, the conditions didn't improve for us, surfing wise. The next day brought more large waves in a choppy sea. We went out at sunrise and shivered in our wetsuits, watching everyone else catch the waves. The Chiba locals are pros. I wouldn't be surprised if I saw some of them competing in the next games. When you live next to advanced-level surf all year round, you have no choice but to become exceptional at surfing. I had fun just sitting there soaking up the awesome-ness of those around me and practicing my Japanese. My friend, however, who's competitive was pretty bummed, and I felt bad that after the five hours of driving each way, his expectations fell flat.
The choppy waters are definitely not the norm. Ichinomiya Beach is known for its incredible surf, so I would definitely recommend it to all surfers. Even if you don't surf, there are plenty of fun things to do in the area, such as walking on the beach, star-gazing, trying out an onsen, or eating Chiba's specialty dishes. Come visit this famous beach!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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