Chiba’s stunning seaside town of Katsuura is considered one of the best coastal destinations in the Kanto Region. It is close enough to Tokyo for day trips, but give yourself a couple nights to begin exploring everything the area has to offer—then come back and dive deeper.
Just two hours after departing Japan’s capital, and the mass of humanity brushing shoulders against one another in Tokyo Station, you emerge from an entirely different environment at Chiba’s Katsuura Station. Your pulse will immediately slow down as you stroll around the traditional fishing town, yet just beyond the station, adventure awaits—such as marine and outdoor activities that include boat tours, fishing, scuba diving, surfing and stand up paddle boarding. If you want to take it slow, don’t miss out on the fresh seafood, local markets or a relaxing soak in one of the local spas. Or if you want to ease into your two-day urban escape, simply lounge on the beach to the chorus of waves and sea birds as you consider your next moves.
Boat trips, spicy ramen, beach exploring and unwinding in the spa
After you arrive by train, bus or car from Tokyo to Katsuura in as little as 90 minutes, stop by the local tourist office, which is conveniently located just a five-minute walk from the train station. Grab some maps or rent an E-bike and begin exploring the town. Once you get the lay of the land, one of the best places to start your getaway is at Seafari Japan, the popular RIB (rigid inflatable boat) tour company that offers more than eight ocean experiences including the “Coastal Cruises Tour,” which takes in all the landmarks, natural beauty and wildlife, while your guide provides insights into the natural history of Katsuura. Other adventures include fishing, snorkeling, banana boats and full charter options.
Seafari Japan is located just 10 minutes by bike from the tourist office and Ryosuke (Japan), Dane (U.K.) are multilingual and guided tours are offered in multiple languages. They cater for all ages and group sizes with everything provided—even woolly hats in winter.
After a couple of hours on the water exploring the Katsuura coastline, you will have worked up quite an appetite. Luckily there is no better cure for an empty stomach than local favorite, tantanmen ramen. There are plenty of local restaurants that serve this famous spicy ramen, but, Ragtime Bar & Restaurant, with its stunning view of Hebara Beach and famous surf breaks is well worth the 15-20 minute bike ride.
Spend the afternoon surfing, swimming, exploring or just soaking up the rays then—just before the sun begins to set—head to Eden Spa & Restaurant (just 10 minutes south) for a soak in their rooftop spa. It is a mixed spa (bring your swimsuit) with a stunning infinity pool. It’s a great place to unwind and relax while enjoying the sunset over the ocean with friends and family.
After you soak, when you are fully relaxed, wander downstairs and grab a table at the Spanish-inspired restaurant. The menu embraces local organic produce while allowing you to taste the wonders of the Mediterranean, specializing in paella, tapas, and ajillo served with freshly baked homemade focaccia bread.
Katsuura has a range of accommodation from AirBnB properties and Japanese pensions to large-scale hotels. For a cozy beachfront bed and breakfast option, check out Splash Guest House, which sits right on the sand with a nifty little surf break out front and a glorious sunrise view. The Japanese and English couple are gracious hosts and also provide rental surf gear and surf lessons.
Epic sunrise, morning market and a SUP lesson all before lunchtime
If you are staying overnight in Katsuura make the effort to get out of bed early so you don’t miss a chance to enjoy the famous sunrise. The sun slowly rising up out of the Pacific Ocean to start the new day in the “Land of the Rising Sun” is, especially for city folk, free food for the soul.
Katsuura Asaichi (morning market) dates back more than 400 years and is one of the largest morning markets in Japan. It’s here the community gathers each morning to sell fresh local produce, including fresh fish and veggies, and it is a great place to meet locals who are always keen for a chat even if you don’t speak the same language. The market opens every day at 6:30 a.m. and is busiest on weekends. It is closed Wednesdays.
Perk up with a cup of freshly brewed coffee from the market’s famous Spice Coffee Stand and enjoy some local treats while taking a refreshing stroll on the quiet road at the foot of the temple. Next ascend the 60 stone steps to Tomasaki Shrine to enjoy a panorama view of Katsuura town and coastline. This is where they bless the Inori-dama (wishing stones) that people throw towards the famous ocean torii gate (a power spot) on Hirashima Island for good luck.
Chiba has some of Kanto’s most pristine beaches along its extensive coastline and Katsuura boasts some of the best: Ubara, Moriya and Okitsu to name a few.
After enjoying the sunrise and a stroll through the market there is still plenty of time to get back in the water. You have a number of water activities to choose from in Katsuura from surfing, snorkeling and fishing to tubing or wake foiling behind a boat. If you are looking for something fun and challenging and have never tried stand-up paddling, join a SUP lesson at Malibu Point. This cool local surf shop is just 10 minutes on the bike from the station or the morning market and offers SUP lessons. Be sure to say hello to the adorable turtle that resides in the backyard.
If you have time for one last stop before catching your train back to reality, pop into Ari Jewelry and exercise your creativity as you build your own one-of-a-kind jewelry by combining stones, gems and trinkets of your choosing to make a masterpiece for yourself—or as a gift for a loved one.
As you settle into your seat back to Tokyo close your eyes and look back at how much you managed to pack into the last forty-eight hours, then begin envisioning your next trip to discover more of of what Katsuura has to offer.
By Train: Jump on the Wakashio Limited Express (Sotobo Line) from Tokyo Station to Katsuura Station (1 hour 27 minutes).
By Car: Take the Shuto Expressway to the Aqualine then get off at the Ichihara-Tsurumai I.C. and follow Route 297 all the way to Katsuura (1 hour 30 minutes.).
Check out the Katsuura Special in the Travel & Adventure Directory for listings of Katsuura tour and travel companies. Enjoy the Katsuura Video at outdoorjapan.com/video/ or at facebook.com/OutdoorJapan/videos and be sure to follow Discover Katsuura at instagram.com/discoverkatsuura