This past weekend we decided to relax our pandemic prevention routine to take advantage of a holiday weekend, the marvelous late fall weather of cool, brisk nights and bright sun-warmed days and the Japanese government’s financial subsidies offered in its “Go To Travel” campaign designed to support the country’s hard-hit tourism industry.
Along with Toma, Yuko and Mai, we took an overnight trip to Kyonan, a small town located in southwest-central Chiba Prefecture near the southern tip of the Bōsō Peninsula, facing Tokyo Bay. This area’s warm maritime climate with hot summers and mild winters supports a thriving commercial fishing and agriculture economy. It is also one of the largest producers of the flowers in Japan.
We traveled by rental car, expertly driven by Yuko, and it was an exciting way to visit and experience a new and interesting location. While this blog text will explain some of the trip’s highlights, I trust the accompanying photographs will better help you share my joy and excitement.
Our route used the 23.7 km Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line Expressway that consists of two-10 km long tunnels underneath the bay (the fourth-longest underwater tunnel in the world) and a 5 km long bridge with an artificial island rest area at the bridge-tunnel crossover point. A second artificial island supports a distinctive tower in the middle of the tunnel section. Called the “the tower of wind,” it uses the bay’s almost-constant winds as a power source to supply needed air in the tunnel.
Once across the bay we stopped to shop at one of the many agricultural road stations and embarked on an exciting trip through mountainous terrain on a winding roadway that brought us to our Kyonan destination. We arrived late in the afternoon, checked into a new rental house situated on the Sakuma River’s terminus with Tokyo Bay, and relaxed before dinner.
Words can do no justice to describe the spectacular dinner served to us in the property’s dining facility in a private room. All the seafood and vegetables were locally caught or grown! For me, the expertly prepared Blowfish was one of the more memorable dishes. The sashimi “boat” added by Keiko to the standard dinner menu was a very special treat.
The after-dinner “sparkler” display provided by Mai, Yuko and Keiko was fun.
Toma and I were up at sunrise and off for a long quiet walk along the bay area. The sunrise was dazzling (my photo is untouched).
After enjoying a traditional Japanese breakfast (later supplemented by some wonderful blueberry muffins and blueberry jam I had purchased at the road stand), we departed on the day’s adventure –– a visit to nearby Mount Nokogiri. The western end of the mountain falls precipitously into Tokyo Bay providing numerous views of the spectacular scenery of the Bōsō Hills and Tokyo Bay. The area is popular with tourists as well as researchers drawn by the various flora, fauna and geological structures that are found here.
The mountain is also the site of the sprawling Nihon-ji Buddhist temple complex that features a huge seated carving of Yakushi Nyorai. At 31.05 metres (101.9 ft) tall, it is the largest pre-modern, stone-carved Daibutsu in Japan.
After visiting Nihon-ji we set off for the summit of Mount Nokogiri. With an elevation of 330 meters (1,082 ft), the ride both up and down to the summit parking area, navigating numerous switchbacks and picturesque views, was thrilling.
The drive, however, was exceeded by our hike to the summit. Crowded with other tourists, we slowly climbed and waited hours for our turn to visit Jigoku Nozoki (Hell Peek Point or “a peek into hell”)! You literally feel like you are at the edge of the world while looking over the awesome cliffs at the view of Tokyo Bay, the Boso Peninsula and other landscapes. Unfortunately, cloud and mist conditions prevented a view of Mount Fuji that is also visible on clearer days.
We had not eaten since breakfast and our next stop was at a local fish restaurant. For me it was a welcome meal of fried oysters and a craft beer! I slept much of the uneventful late night ride home.