I made my first trip to the Pacific Coast in Chiba Prefecture just east of Tokyo. The chosen destination was the semi-remote town of Onjuku, home to Onjuku Beach. (Listed here in group 3, or you can click on the approrpiate block in this map for a close-up of the beach area..)
I had been jonesing to get out of the city and into some roiling surf for months, but invariably ended up either disappointed with muddy Kanagawa beaches or cancelling altogether at the last minute due to poor weather or oversleeping. I wanted to get onto a real beach without having to go all the way down to Izu, so I thought, “Hey, why not Chiba?”
The main why-not was not ever having been there, and not knowing if it was actually worth the trip. As it turns out, it most certainly is, and thanks for Brent and Andrew for giving me the basic knowledge to get me moving in the right direction.
To get to Onjuku I bought an express ticket for the Wakashio (特急わかしお) train out of Tokyo station. It leaves from the Keiyo (京葉線) tracks at the far end of the station, and gets you all the way out to and down the coast in a whopping 79 minutes. An open seat ticket (自由席, jiyuu-seki) will set you back 3,192 yen, and you may have to stand the whole way. Alternatively, you can pay an additional 700 yen for a reserved seat (指定席, shitei-seki) which–as the name implies–guarantees you your very own seat all the way.
Once arriving in Onjuku City it was a short 7-10 minute walk to the beach. I was immediately struck by how perfectly beach-like it was. コレこそまさにビーチだぞ！ (Now this is what I call a beach!) was the first thing out of my mouth on seeing the long expanse of white sand and frothy, crashing surf. Blue skies over a forest of colorful parasols, and thousands of mostly-yound Japanese out in their darkly-tanned best.
I grabbed a boogie board from local surf shop and spent the afternoon riding some respectable waves and working on my first good sunburn of the Summer. The waves aren’t quite as big as those in Shimoda, perhaps, but they were more than adequate for me on this uncrowded strecth of rock-free sand a mere hour-and-a-half from home.